New Year, new start

I really haven’t had much time to blog, so much so that it’s been months since my last one. So, with the New Year (although it’s already February) I decided I’d make more of an effort

Although my blog has the title of “Planes and stuff”, it’s more likely to become just “stuff”. Planes are somewhat lacking up here in Scotland, and the ones that are around are a good few hours drive away – in fact Lossiemouth is a longer drive than Manchester is. I really am hoping that this year I can get some trips in. Already planned is Aprils Joint Warrior up at Lossie; and most definitely up around Greenock and Faslane for the Warship participants

I’ve kind of stumbled into the Warship photography. It’s been interesting watching the Warships and Submarines go past the house over the last few years so when I started listening to the Russian Navy transmissions on my radios I started taking more notice of what was going by. In October last year I decided to pop up to Greenock to get some photos of the Warships taking part in the Joint Warrior exercise. It was an interesting day and I decided I’d get a secondhand Jane’s Fighting Ships off eBay so that I could get more information on things.

HMS Ambush

When the book arrived I noticed that Jane’s accepted photos so I sent a few away which will now hopefully be published in next years book

Of course, having the one book led onto others as I just needed to know about what weapons the ships were carrying; and radar, and comms equipment. I think I have 8 books now.

Jane’s were good enough to give me a discount on some newer books, including Fighting Ships, so I now have some more up to date copies than those originally bought off eBay

Belgian Navy Minesweeper Lobelia (M921)
Danish Navy Frigate Hvidbjornen (F360)

Onto my radio listening now, and in particular the Russian Navy Morse Code (CW) transmissions

This has turned into quite a fascinating hobby for me, although sometimes frustrating due to poor reception. I discovered through a forum that the CIS Navy ships send weather reports every 6 hours for their current location. They use the standard observation method as described by NOAA in their observation handbook, and within this message format there is a Lat/Long position report for where the observation took place. This means you are able to track their positions. This totally amazed me when I found this out

I now have a database of over a hundred callsigns as used by the CIS Navy, although I haven’t heard them all. Probably the busiest week or so of listening was in November when myself and a few others tracked a large movement of ships in the White Sea. Eventually we were able to work out that this was in fact a test of a new Cruise Missile from a newly launched Nuclear Submarine. More information can be found here http://rusnavy.com/news/navy/index.php?ELEMENT_ID=16398. In total we were able to track 9 ships during the firing, although all remained unidentified. The busiest mover was callsign RBC89 which gave position reports as shown here on google maps:

They do round up the positions hence the odd one that are on land. Below are example messages taken from the 5th November

0343z RBC89 191 19 5 0725 191 = FOR RJD90 RJH74 =
05001 99659 10364 41/96 91909 10020 49980 54000
70022 89/// 22252 00020 2???? 319// 40302 88000
05016 = + RBC89

65.9N 36.4E Heading SW @ 6-10kts
http://goo.gl/maps/hT0Ep

0354z VVV RJD99 DE RBC89 QSA? QTC

0355z VVV RJD99 DE RBC89 QSA? QTC

0356z RBC89 186 ?? 5 0730 186 = FOR RJD90 RJH74 =
05021 99662 10362 41/96 92207 00040 49980 54000
748?4 89/// 22272 00030 20202 319// 40402 88000
05016 = + RBC89

66.2N 36.2E Heading NW @ 6-10kts
http://goo.gl/maps/5TPrF

0403z RBC89 223 3 5 0801 223 = FOR RJD99 =
02552 05001 = + RBC89

0407z RMB81 QSA? QTC
VVV RJD99 DE RMB81 QSA? QTC

0550z VVV RJD99 DE RBC89 QSA? QTC
RBC89 572 9 5 0955 572 = FOR RJD90 RJH74 =
050?? 99662 10345 41/96 9230? 00050 40000 52020
70222 89/// 22232 00030 20202 232// 40302 88000
05016 = + RBC89

66.2N 34.5E Heading SE @ 6-10kts
http://goo.gl/maps/hmxyW

In the last message group RBC89 calls RJD99. The position is decoded from 99662 10345, with the heading/speed 22232.

The main frequencies in use are 8345kHz and 12464kHz, although there are hundreds listed that have been used by the Russian Navy. They are all in CW

Quite a few ships have been tied up to the callsigns now through their reports. This is achieved from the Russian Navy themselves as they publish news items everyday on the internet, especially when ships arrive at certain locations. I also use a few other websites including Shipspotting.com and Bosphorus Navy News

Well, that’s it for this update. Next will be Numbers Stations and QSL cards