International maritime communication used Morse as the standard code until 1999. Every Navy vessel carried a variety of Morse code devices on board. The large light next to the wheelhouse on the bridge was the most spectacular and effective one. Handled by a specially trained sailor skilled in signals, it functioned as a ship-bound lighthouse, with the added ability to transmit highly detailed messages. Our spotlight dates back to the 1930s and was likely used on a French Navy battleship. By moving slatted louvers the signalman sent short and longer spaced rays of light that could be read by trained sailors in the distance. Morse code uses long and short elements and combinations to convey a message. The elements making up the code were formed by sounds, marks and pulses of varying length. Created in the 1840s Morse code was in use for more than a century and a half. The famous S.O.S. sent by ships in distress (as on the Titanic) was sent by Morse code.
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