Fun_People Archive
16 Jul
Final thoughts on Morse code and all the ships at sea

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Thu, 16 Jul 98 13:09:51 -0700
To: Fun_People
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Subject: Final thoughts on Morse code and all the ships at sea

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Forwarded-by: "Jack D. Doyle" <doylej@PEAK.ORG>

Oatis, J.  1998.  Final thoughts on Morse code and all the ships at sea.
Nando Times InfoTech, Reuters News Service.  New York.  July 16, 1998
12:58 p.m. EDT.

    Tap out an SOS for Morse code. At least as far as ships at sea are
concerned, it is going down for the last time. As of Feb. 1, 1999, all
passenger ships and all cargo ships of 300 gross tons or more will no longer
use Morse code for distress calls, relying instead on the global satellite
communications system that has all but taken its place under an
international agreement.

The beginning of the end came in 1988 when an international treaty on safety
and rescue at sea was amended to phase out Morse worldwide, beginning in
1992, in favor of the satellite setup dubbed the Global Maritime Distress
and Safety System. U.S. civilian ships dropped Morse for distress calls in
1995. On Jan. 31, 1997, France's coast guard tapped out its final, poetic
message -- "Calling all. This is our last cry before our eternal silence."

Morse has its fans. Recent searches of the Web and discussion groups on the
Internet turned up thousands of Web pages and hundreds of discussion group
postings mentioning Morse code. They include:

----"Morse Goes to the Movies," a Web site cataloging uses of Morse and
telegraphs in movies, TV shows, commercials and cartoons at

----Another site, "Telegraph Lore," contains links to a wealth of telegraph
history and anecdotes. It is located at

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