10 October 2014

Russian Navy Morse

This short text does not claim to be complete or exact, it is just an attempt to collect and consolidate sparse notes about the Rus Navy way to Morse. I did examined my own logs, browse some Navy and Defense websites, mainly from Russia, N&O columns / Spooks newsletters, public available sources and public sites/forums on the web (later reported). You have to know that this document is always-under-construction and may be outdated, incomplete or even wrong.
Comments are welcome.

Morse code: it's just beeps in the air

Morse CW is cheap and straightforward; many examples suggest, it often is used as last attempt in case of technical - or propagational problems with fast transmission modes. It is however absolutely clear: the vast amount of data is exchanged by transmission lines via satellite or landline.
The Russian Navy (and other Russian Forces) still use the Morse Code and during these peacetime periods they openly transmit Morse Code references to activate voice and data links. They transmit the frequencies in Morse in the clear and the recipient ship-shore station transmits/receives according to the information received.  The Russians wouldn't be sending such open transmissions if the deployment wasn't peacetime operations.
Monitoring such transmission is not illegal, it is not an hostile behavior!
Ask yourself why the Russians still use Morse Code? You seriously think that all transmissions used by an adversary, or potential adversary is not routinely monitored by the other side? Do you not think that signals intelligence collection agencies interested also routinely monitor these open broadcasts? 

....  .  .-.  .     .--  .     --.  ---
they use T ( _ ) as an abbreviation for zero ( _ _ _ _ _ ); 

the char K indicates that the recipient(s) are asked to confirm or just a "fast exchange" between two stations;
the sequence '+ ar' (end pf message) may be replaced by +, K, 'RPT AL QLN +', or similar endings such 'RPT AL QLN K' repeat back online (see later the section "procedural signs"); 
WLHN (rare) is believed to be a collective call, ie for all forces, and believed to be originated from Moscow HQ; 
<BT> is the prosign for = and in some cases it could depend on the decoder (see later the section "procedural signs");

common preamble format (if present)

preamble example: 
162 30 18 1202 162 = 517 = [message]

162 message number
30   groups count
18   day of month
1202 local time
517 (if present) appointment code, a specific person or dept at the address

the preamble may include the senders callsign too;
the preamble is not used in plain requests and replies using the Q-code (radio checks, ec.);  

the preamble may precede:
- encrypted messages: 
 [preamble] = [ 5FG or 5ALG with or without encryption group and coded end-group]

- weather reports:   
[preamble] = recipients = [FM-13 synoptic data]

status/priority of the message
RKT (rocket) higher in the hierarchy;
XXX flash message, can be compared with the USAF EAMs messages since they seem to use a certain set of codewords. It should be something like a "get attention" for a message of high priority;
SML (aircraft) a precedence higher than routine;
UUU as preface means routine;

They use an extended set of Q-Codes. Some are known, many others not.
QTC I have a message (message follows)
QWH I start send on frequency (KHz)
QWH 9700/rptd = 12056/rptd will send on 9700, alternatively on 12056
QWH 9700/8536 = 12056/12572 the link will run with two parallel frequencies
QYR I start working on 81 Baud RTTY (presumed)
QYS I start working on duplex RTTY
QYT4 I start use MS-5 system
QYT4 QMO adjust your MS-5 system
QSX I will listen on frequency (KHz)
QSX 8440/rptd = 12414/rptd I will listen on 8440, alternatively on 12414
QLS use (upper) alternative frequency or change frequency
QRS send slower
QCM your transmission is affected by technical problems
QLN  rpt via landline
QSA radio check (request and reply)

plain Q-code example messages (from my logs)
"RBEG QSL 435 K"
“RAL2 DE RHW2 QSA 2 ? K”
"RMI93 OK QRU k"

weather reports messages
Ships send weather reports every 6 hours (usually 0000, 0600, 1200, 1800 UTC) 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: so you are able to localize the positions of the ships by decoding the Code FM-13-X-SHIP (or shortly FM-13). This ships synoptic code is comprised of 23 groups of symbolic letters representing meteorological and oceanographic elements, report identification and ship location data (see resources later at the end of this post).

1) Ship current position is coded in the Ships Synoptic Code Section 0:
... 99LaLaLa QcLoLoLoLo ...
... 99662 10345 ...

99 Data on Position Follow

LaLaLa (662) Latitude in degrees and tenths of a degree. Always coded with three digits, the first two digits are actual degrees, the last digit for tenths of a degree (66.2)

(10) Quadrant of the globe (specify whether the latitude is north or south and the longitude east or west). 
If north of the equator (north latitude):
- 1 when east of the Greenwich Meridian (east longitude)
- 7 when west of the Greenwich meridian (west longitude)
If south of the equator (south latitude):
- 3 when east of the Greenwich meridian (east longitude)
- 5 when west of the Greenwich meridian (west longitude)

LoLoLoLo (345) Longitude in degrees and tenths of a degree. Always coded with four digits, with the leading (hundreds) figure coded as 0 or 1. The first three digits are actual degrees, the last digit for tenths of a degree (34.5)

2) the ship movement data is coded in Section 2:
... 222DsVs ...
... 22232 ...

222 indicator
Ds (3)
true ship’s course made good during the three hours preceeding the time of observation:
Ship hove to
2 E
3 SE
4 S
5 SW
6 W
7 NW
8 N
9 Unknown
/ Not reported

Vs (2) Ship’s average speed, in knots, made good during the three hours preceeding the time of observation:
0 knot
1 1 to 5 knots
2 6 to 10 knots
3 11 to 15 knots
4 16 to 20 knots
5 21 to 25 knots
6 26 to 30 knots
7 31 to 35 knots
8 36 to 40 knots
9 Over 40 knots
/ Not reported


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

in plain text:
"ship  RBC89 (calling RJD99) at (Moscow) time 0955 was at 66.2N 34.5E , heading SouthEast @ 6-10kts"
the position of RBC89 is decoded from 99|662 10|345, with the heading/speed obtained from 222|32.

CW "771 19 9 1551 771 ...99548 10198...22242...AR RMWT K"
in plain text:
"ship RMWT position at 1551 Moscow time: 54.8N 19.8E  heading South @ 6-10kts"

Since the time of reception differs from the one indicated in the preamble (does not matter if UTC or Moscow Time), it is presumed that the preamble time is the time when the message was prepared and not the time of the transmission: i.e. the data relate to the observation at 1603 Moscow Time (1203z) but sent (and then received) at 1220z.

about the procedural signs (wikipedia)

In Morse code, prosigns or procedural signals are dot/dash sequences that do not represent text per se, but have a special meaning in a transmission: they are generally not copied down, they are a form of control character.
They are used to indicate formatting of the text being copied or to indicate operational changes in transmission. They may be written as if they were composed of two or three ordinary alphabetic characters but they are sent "run together", omitting the normal inter-character spaces that would occur if they were being sent as normal text. These ligatures are often represented in print either by a ligating bar (overline above the letters) or by surrounding the run-together letters with angle brackets (such as <BT>), indicating that they are linked and sent as one contiguous sequence.

Sources and References
Informations in this document was submitted by independent radio monitors or has been obtained from public available sources and public sites on the web. Wherever data was obtained via the web or elsewhere, references and/or links to these sources have been noted.


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