24 October 2014


Russian Navy Morse | BATHY, TESAC, TRACKOB reports and GSVMF

Other than the basic FM 13 weather observations, the oceanographic and hydrographic ships of the Russian Navy send other specialist messages containing information about sea temperature, salinity and current at different depths. Think: salinity and sea temperature versus depth could be vital to a commander of a submarine who needs to hide his boat under a halocline or thermocline layer (it was discovered that thermal layers affect sonar performance; below a thermal layer, a submarine's active sonar performed poorly when trying to acquire a target. Conversely, a surface ship's sonar pings were reflected and scattered by the layer as well, allowing the submarine to hide beneath it).These messages are known as BATHY, TESAC and TRACKOB reports and, as well as the FM 13 ones, are sent to the Hydrographic Service of the Russian Navy. First, let's take a look at this service.

The Hydrographic Service of the Russian Navy (GSVMF) is one of the important national bodies responsible for the safety of navigation. Although the Hydrographic Service forms a part of the Navy, it also meets the requirement of merchant and fishing fleets and vessels of other ministries and agencies.  The Hydrographic Service is under the direction of the Department of Navigation and Oceanography of the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense (DNO of the RF MD), which is traditionally located in St Petersburg.

The principle functions of the DNO of the RF MD are:

— to carry out oceanographic, hydrographic and geophysical surveys in the World Ocean
— to compile and produce Nautical Charts, Publications and Guides to Navigation
— to develop and produce Guides, Instructions, Regulations and Methodical Directions on carrying out the World Ocean surveys and processing of their results
— to equip the coast of the Russian Federation by aids to navigation
— to organize mariner notification about changes in navigational conditions and regime
— to develop up navigational instruments and complexes.

As reported by defencerussia "In 2014, survey vessels of three fleets of the Russian Navy will make long trips [...] The main objectives of the campaign are comprehensive oceanographic studies of the Mediterranean Sea, the collection of data for the next hydro-navigation proof nautical charts, manuals and handbooks on shipping, a study of the navigation system, ensuring the presence and demonstration of the flag of the Russian Navy,” the Russian Navy Captain of the 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said. 
To carry out ocean ographic surveys some special units have been created as a part of the Hydrographic Service of the Navy, such as expeditions and parties. 
The surveys are being run by oceanographic and hydrographic ships of up to 9000 tons displacement, equipped with modern navigational and oceanographic facilities. Ships may have anti-terror team on board consisting of marines in order to maintain security during the cruise. 

The Oceanographic and Hydrographic observations are sent daily by the Hydrographic ships (FM 13 reports at fixed times 00, 06, 12 and 18 UTC) to the ground stations of the GSVMF.  Such messages are not sent directly to ground stations but forwarded via Naval HQs:

RJP99 547 18 4 2214 547 = FOR RJH74 RJH45 = ... (via RIT, NSF HQ Severomorsk)
RMCW 6T2 18 23 16TT 6T2 = SML FOR RJE73 RJH45 =... (via RCV, BSF HQ Sevastopol))

In fact, looking for example at the FM-13 reports (at least here in Southern Europe) you may see that most of these messages almost always report two recipients, mostly RJE73 RJH45 or RJH74 RJH45 usually using the "sml" priority indicator: I do not know if the recipients are local GSVMF offices at each HQ naval bases (RIT, RCV,...) or just GSVMF central offices.
As reported by  planesandstuff site, the observed calls of GSVMF ground stations are:

and  the observed calls related to survey/research ships are:
RFE76 Sibiriyakov
RHO62 Admiral Vladimirskiy
RJP30 Senezh
RJP99 Gorizont (belonging to the Northern Fleet)
RKB92 *
RMCW Donuzlav (belonging to the Black Sea Fleet)
RMX62 *
(* = not confirmed)


The BATHY, TESAC and TRACKOB reports are described here with tables and instructions about their decode: the data collected by these reports are sumarized below (from the same source).

The BATHY report should be used for recording temperature observations versus depth taken with instruments which provide the temperature with a resolution of 0.1 degrees Celsius or less, such as mechanical or expendable Bathythermographs, thermistor chains or others. The TESAC report should be used for temperature values with a higher resolution and/or when salinity or current versus depth are reported (see later). In addition to the temperature information, the BATHY report makes provision for encoding sea-surface current measurements and depth to the bottom, as well as other environmental information. 
Report information is designed according to the reporting code FM 63-X Ext BATHY.

The TESAC report should be used if one or all of the following data sets are available: Temperature versus depth with a resolution of 0.01 degrees Celsius, Temperature and salinity versus depth, Current versus depth. 
Report information is designed according to the reporting code FM 64-IX TESAC.

example of a TESAC message (from planesandstuff)

1836z RJP99 911 28 4 2216 911 = FOR RJH74 RJH45 =
KKXX 04093 1545/ 17000 03601 88870
20000 31149 20010 31110 20020 31096
20030 30876 20050 30402 22075 30344
30100 30344 20?43 30288 00000 55555
10144 04025 = + RJP99

The TRACKOB report should be used for recording of conventional oceanographic observations at the sea surface taken along a ship's track. The report form permits the collection and transmission of one or more parameters such as water temperature and/or salinity and/or ocean currents in terms of direction and speed.

It is designed to report spot values as well as averaged data over a selected time period. The instruments used should provide the temperature with a resolution of 0.1 degrees Celsius or less, the salinity in 0.01 of practical salinity units, the current speed with a resolution of 0.1 metres/second or 0.1 knots, and the current direction to at least 10°.
Report information is designed according to the reporting code FM 62-VIII Ext. TRACKOB. 
Mediterranean hydrographic vessel “Donuzlav” (defencerussia.wordpress.com)

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