The portuguese warship and the broken down merchant ship. (True Story)


New member
14 Aug 2006
Lagos, Portugal
Heard on the VHF on Sunday. Apologies for the length of the post. But it did make me smile.

A merchant ship "Nina" had engine problems about 20 miles off the portuguese coast and called another ship to request that they give them a wide berth. This call was intercepted by a Portuguese Warship.

The radio comms went like this:-

Merchant vessel Nina this is Port Warship, come in please.

Port Warship, this is Nina, over

we understand you have engine failure, do you require assistance over?


I have engineers on my warship who could probably assist you.

thank you but negative we will deal with the engines

what is your position

I am in international waters

my position is 22 miles south of portimao - are you in my vicinity?

I am in international waters

(The captain then thought he would try another tack!!)

Do you have an estimated time when you will have fixed your engines?

Negative - but we can fix them.

Can you give me your position please.

I am in international waters, 8 miles outside Portuguese borders.

(There was then another long pause from the warship and the captain of the warship took on a new style - one of "please I need your help")

Nina - this Port Warship - please can you pass me your GPS position - I need this for my report for my senior commander, it 'as to be radio'ed to 'im as part of my report. I cannot do report without GPS position. There is nothing bad about wanting position OVER

(Long Pause, then Nina replied)

Port Warship - this is Nina - my position is etc etc.

(It was then like the flood gates were opened and the Warship Captain went for it)

- And what was your last post of call and when did you leave?

- And what is your next port of call and when will you get there once engines are ok?

A very fed up Merchant Ship captain gave the information (Seem to recall he was going to Dakar, Senegal)

The warship captain was by no means finished.

"And what is your cargo please?"

- We carry 4800 metric tonnes.

"Of what please?"

....... And so it went on - about another 5 minutes of questions by the warship captain and grudging answers by the merchant skipper.

I couldnt help thinking "I bet he wished he'd kept his GPS position to himself at the start of the conversation and stuck to "International Waters".


Active member
16 Mar 2002
Visit site
That thought crossed my mind too. Maybe the OP could change the name of the vessels involved to Merchant and Navy?


New member
26 Jul 2004
Visit site
Did you know that it is an offence to report traffic heard on VHF unless it is for safety relay puposes?

[/ QUOTE ]

Is it still an offence if (as appears to be the case here) the VHF traffic was transmiited and heard outside the UK and the poster was outside the UK when he made the post reporting the traffic ?


Well-known member
24 Mar 2004
Visit site
What sort of warship cannot detect the location of a stationary merchant ship within VHF range? Wasn't AIS working? Or radar?
very strange.


New member
27 Nov 2002
Visit site
"Did you know that it is an offence to report traffic heard on VHF unless it is for safety relay puposes?"

And so is robbing the rich and giving to the poor, but no-one is making an issue of it.


Well-known member
19 Nov 2003
Visit site
Re: The portuguese warship and the broken down merchant ship. (True St

Well all the info requested is precisely what you hear Dover Coastguard requesting 2 or 3 times an hour. Sometimes its a slick answer, sometimes sounds like an inspired guess, and sometimes the english is almost untranlatable.