Welcome to the Signal Bridge!
The signal bridge is located atop the wheel house, the highest manned point on the ship, providing the best view of the horizon. The signal bridge is name so, since that is where the signalman would perform their duties communicating with other ships using visual signaling. Visual signaling between ships is especially important during times of war when observing strict radio silence is used to make it difficult for the enemy to locate the position of the ship or convoy. Even in times of peace, visual signaling is still used extensively. There are three primary ways of sending visual signals: flag-hoist, semaphore flags, and flashing light.
Flag-hoist is a daylight system of communication where a series of flags representing letters, numerals or pre-defined actions are displayed. This system is very efficient for sending messages or commands to a group of ships simultaneously and having all ships act on the command in unison (especially useful during fleet or convoy operations). Flag hoists are generally visible at greater distances than semaphore flags and can be displayed for a long duration if necessary.
Semaphore is another daylight system of communication where two handheld flags waved in certain positions represent letters and numerals. Messages are sent by signaling one character at a time. Semaphore flags messages can be sent much more quickly than flag-hoists (or even by flashing light). Semaphore messages can only be seen at shorter distances and are "fleeting" in nature.
Flashing light is a visual communication method that can be used day or night. A directional light, with shutters or momentary on switch, is used to flash messages from ship to ship using morse code.
The S.S. Lane Victory has a flag bag and signal lamp on the signal bridge. Additionally, you will find many modern communications antennas mounted on or above the signal bridge.
The signal bridge was also an optimum spot to install some of the Oerlikon 20mm anti-aircraft cannons due to the unobstructed view of the port and starboard horizons.
Finally, the signal bridge also has a wheel, magnetic and gyro compasses that can be used to pilot the ship from this location. Passengers on our cruises need to be wary when on the signal bridge as the ship's whistle can be very loud from this vantage point.