To be certified as a radio operator
After the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, safety of life at sea caused
administrations to take particular measures.
Following international accords, different rules and regulations were
accepted by several countries. It provided for certains ships, bearing in
mind its category ( cargo, passengers etc), tonnage and voyages (deep
seas, coastal etc.) to be mandatorily equipped with a radio station
comprising a complete set of specific apparatus and that a 24 hours radio
watch be maintained while at sea.
Certification of radio installations and operators was hence rendered
mandatory.The first certificate of competency in radio were for operators
in the maritime service.
Operators we to be holder of either a 1st or 2nd Class certificate
depending on the ships' tonnage and category,(deep sea or coastal voyages)
.Competency in sending and receiving morse code had to be proven at a
speed of 20 words per minute for plain text and 15 for 5
There always was a technical part on radiocommunication, knowledge of
the equipment, its installation and it use, its circuit and installation
schematics and on the use of the different apparatus.
All the rules and procedures had to be learned from a booklet published
by the British 'General Post Office' and called ' Handbook for wireless
In practice, it was called the
PMG and that publication, amended from time to time pursuant to the
International Conventions, was in use for at least 50 years.
The Officer in Charge of a passenger ship station needed a 1st Class
certificate which implied that he had more experience, had a faster code
and better knowledge.
All morse code radio operators in the commercial service were to hold a
2nd Class certificate at minimum.
Instructions to radio inspectors were given by the Director of the
Radio Branch, C.P.Edwards and such instructions were found, dating back to
1927. It concerned the examination pertaining to Direction finding which
was to be given to candidates wanting their 2nd Class certificate to be
Old equipment descriptions., photographs of some of them and an example
of an examination sheet used to test candidates on equipment
interconnections of a typical installation.
Further, candidates were tested on work procedures, rules and
regulations, radio telegram format, special cases, word count to establish
the fees for message handling, Q code and other work procedures for a
wireless telegraphy ship station.
The technician in charge of a broadcasting transmitter was, for a good
number of years, also to hold a radio operator certificate.
When radio-telephony came in use, the ned for competent operators followed; international and canadian regulations rapidly made it so that a certificate was mandatory for the maritime, the aeronautical and the land services.
Numerous Guides and Circulars were published by the Department over the
To operate a radio amateur station, one needed also to be certified.
Morse code and some knowledge of the radio techniques and of the
regulations were part of the test.
There was two certificates, the Amateur certificate , code 10 words per
minutes and the Advanced, code 15 words per minute with a more involved
That certificate permitted the holder to use higher power and
frequencies.Some candidates have described their experience attending the
examination, here is one:
( Michael C's memories )
Today, with better and different equipment, the rules were changed. With satellite communications available on-board ships, the requirement for a 'spark' has been set aside ...
For more efficiency, the Department has also decided to identify and mandate qualified personnel for the the examination of candidates for radio amateur and radio telephone operators certificates.
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