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Ocean Weather Service (Britain)

Last modified: 2008-07-19 by
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[Ocean weather ship] by Martin Grieve, 5 February 2008

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Description of the flag

For most of the time between 1946 and 1981 ships in rotation were stationed at ten positions in the North Atlantic. As far as possible each ship remained in the same geographical position sending weather reports to meteorological forecasting centres and giving navigational assistance to trans-Atlantic aircraft. Britain was responsible for one station and shared responsibility with the Netherlands for another.

The first British weather ships were converted Flower Class corvettes. HMS 'Thyme' was converted in 1946 and named Ocean Weather Ship 'Weather Reporter'. In 1947 she was re-named 'Weather Explorer' and joined by HM Ships 'Genista', 'Marguerite', and 'Snowflake' as, respectively, OW Ships 'Weather Recorder', 'Weather Observer', and 'Weather Watcher'. They were sold or scrapped between 1958 and 1960 and replaced by converted Castle Class corvettes. HM Ships 'Amberley Castle', 'Oakham Castle', 'Pevensey Castle' and 'Rushen Castle' became respectively OW Ships 'Weather Adviser', 'Weather Reporter', 'Weather Monitor' and 'Weather Surveyor'.

The ships were owned by the Air Ministry, administered by the Meteorological Office and had civilian crews. Initially they flew the Red Ensign but in 1948 Admiralty letter NL 6920/48 of 19th November authorized a Blue Ensign defaced by a circular gold badge consisting of the sun rising over the sea encircled by the words 'Ocean Weather Ship', with over all a Royal Air Force eagle.

David Prothero, 5 February 2008

Ocean weather service blue ensign

[Ocean weather ship] by Martin Grieve, 12 February 2008

Between 1993 and 1996 Ocean Weather Ship "Cumulus" was stationed in the North Atlantic at 57N20W. She wore a variation of the badge in which the word 'ship' was replaced by 'service'.
David Prothero, 12 February 2008

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