I trust that you will have arrived here at story 566 having first acqainted yourself with Story Line 253 in the main long menu list above?

In story line 253, written some time ago [by the way, todays date is the 10th December 2014]I promised that when the international radio callsign of HMS Queen Elizabeth had been made known to the world, and not just to the UK or just to the Royal Navy, I would alert you to it. That has now been done.

It is G Q L Z

It does seem a pity and an opportunity lost that the quintessential UK callsign for a ship called QUEEN ELIZABETH [whether a naval or a mercantile vessel] was G B S S as shown in 253. It seems now that its use will pale into insignificance, although it will always remain a UK assignment of course. It is a pity that not all aspects of our history and heritage are correctly documented and used to maintain our proud maritime history. I have no doubts in my mind that the person responsible for allocating GQLZ to the carrier was ignorant of that historical snippet concerning the use of the name, yes name, Golf Bravo Sierra Sierra in modern speak, but of course George Baker Sugar Sugar when first assigned. However, we were denied that, but see a logical answer below - lateral thinking doesn't always bear fruit or give the correct answer to a problem!  Oh Well! C'est la vie as the saying goes.

Why GQLZ is obvious in the trendy sense of the use of its constituent letters, BUT, WHY NOT GBQE - Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth? It is not in use today so it is unassigned and READILY AVAILABLE! It makes more sense than 'playing' around as a child might do endeavouring to make something out of nothing. It reminds me of private car number plates where owners try and convince themselves that they have a word, whereas in truth, they have a jumble of letters that is often quite silly. GQLZ is nothing but poetic licence! The letter 'G' is one of the letters allocated to the UK as often as not wrongly stated as GB, which rules out dear and faithful Northern Ireland from whence many of her crew hailed from. It is true that the ships RMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Queen Elizabeth the 1913 battleship had really nothing to do with Northern Ireland, the former being built in Scotland and the latter in Portsmouth, our maritime services/heritage belongs fully and inseparably to the good old United Kingdom. The letters, in this case 'QLZ' are alphabetically assigned under the 'G' international assignment, with the 'Q' representing "QUEEN" and, the 'LZ' said quickly, could be construed as being "liz" for Elizabeth. However, I have never heard that most famous naval expression 'BZ' called anything other than BZ or Bravo Zulu. Note, that the two naval ships carrying the name Queen Elizabeth have at least something in common with one being built in Portsmouth Dockyard and the other due to operate from the City when her trials, many in number, have been completed and she has been commissioned. It is also of some interest to know [or remember] that parts of the new carrier were also built in Portsmouth Dockyard.

I have mentioned that callsigns are names and they have a history just like ships pennant number have. That in mind, I am first going to tell you about the 1913 battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth and her callsigns and pennant number. All the relevant details about the ship, except her callsigns [plural], can be found on the internet, although her pennant number was B00 [BRAVO ZERO ZERO] and not as shown on Wikipedia, just 00.

International radio callsigns, from the time of their introduction until WW1, were fixed, starting with 3 letters and thence to four letter callsigns. In 1919, the Queen Elizabeth was GTHS which phonetically was George Tommy Harry Sugar. In 1925 this was shown to be GSHT [not a misprint or a mistake and vouched for by the IMO]. Come 1930 and it was GECF finishing off in 1941 with GVWT. Only one of these callsigns is in use today, so THREE were spare at the time of the current assignment. Only GSHT is in use, and that by a 28 gross tonnage private yacht called the 'KARILLA'. This is a picture of her

Now for the selected callsign's history viz GQLZ.

First let me tell you about a very famous shipping company who ran upwards of 250 vessels on global trade routes carrying virtually all the merchandise imaginable. It was known as the Scottish Navy, not because of the sheer size of its mercantile fleet, but because the officers of that line had identical officers stripes on their uniforms to those of a naval officer. All the ships were called CLAN followed by another name, some famous, some not so.

For our purposes, we are looking at CLAN STUART [famous of course] for GQLZ was her radio callsign. This was way back in the 1930's-1940 period. She was the last vessel to use that callsign until now.

This document will tell you the full story and how all 75 onboard were saved. She would have had a naval DEMS rating[s] onboard for she carried a 3" [or so] deck mounted gun. She was in collision with another UK merchant ship, outward bound in the Channel off Start Point enroute to West Africa to a port many of us once knew called Beira. As you will see, her wreck is still used today by divers.

As our new carrier will do, on many occasions to come whilst enroute to the Western Approaches [or even Plymouth] from Portsmouth, she will pass close by Start Point the grave of the former owner of the UK callsign GQLZ. I wonder just how many of those manning the conning bridge will be aware of that fact?


I just love British naval callsigns [for ships, submarines and establishments], and when special, the ships/establishments that owned them often way back in time. I even have an RN shore wireless stations 3 digit callsign [three letters + the the figure 1] which is an acronym of my name by sheer chance] documented first off as an Admiralty Coast Station and used in Portsmouth in the period 1930-31 and later, in 1955 at Spurn Head on the Humber, as my cars registration number, and I have had the plates since 1985 on several new cars. I have also one special favourite which I show on this 1930 page from Indicatifs D'Appel. Can you spot what it might be - remember warships have four letter callsigns and warships are shown with cross swords after their names?


Yes!- I do believe that you have sussed it: HMS FLAT CALM. If only all vessels could be called that, and of course live up to its name. Utopia I would say. But what on earth was this vessel? It was a Admiralty-built wooden drifter [a fishing vessel if you want] used in WW1 and given the number 3890. It served in WW1 without radio communications. In 1920 it was sold and renamed 'Rowan Tree' and was subsequently fitted with radio communications equipment in early 1930 receiving its international callsign GFBV which back in WW1 was phoneticised as George Freddy Butter Vinegar, but changed to George Fox Baker Victor for WW2.  Below is a picture of a wooden drifter but flying a red ensign instead of a white ensign off Lowestoft, also photographed in WW2. HMS Flat Calm did a variety of jobs but was fundamentally a minesweeper. It was taken back into naval service again for WW2 still bearing its new name 'Rowan Reee' and  callsign.  There was also a ship called 'Rowan' as well as 'Rowena'.

this one off Lowestoft Suffolk UK.


Good bye and good sailing.