Question on Warship Alarm: Actions Stations and General Quarters

March 20, 2009

Hi Mac,

Could you please tell me the name of the whooping signal or alarm sounded by British and Commonwealth warships? What does it mean? What device is used to create it and when was it first used?

Thanks in advance for your time and responses,

Rory A Prendergast


Here is some history of closing up at action stations as its called in the Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy:

General quarters from Wikipedia 

In all my sea service in WW2, the ship's bugler would sound Action Stations on his bugle over the ship's intercom system, there was a different bugle call for an aircraft attack, he would sound " Repel Aircraft."

I guess the device used is the Klaxon, first used in the 20th century after the use of drum beats to call the crew to General Quarters ( action stations ) was superseded.

In the US Navy its called going to General Quarters, in the RN and Commonwealth Navies its going to Action Stations.

A ship's complement is based on the exact number needed to fight the ship, and everyone has a designated action station, in a lower state of readiness, one has a cruising station.

Hope this helps a little.


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