Quantcast Distress and Hand Signals

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There are three common types of hand-held personnel distress pyrotechnic devices currently found aboard surface ships; the Mk 13 smoke and illumination signal, the Mk 1 Navy light, and the Mk 79 personnel distress signal kit.

Mk 13 Marine Smoke and Illumination Signal

The Mk 13 marine smoke and illumination signal provides a pillar of smoke by day and a fiery light at fight. It is a very comforting thing to have in a life raft or a life vest.

The Mk 13 signal (fig. 1-13) is a metal cylinder about 5 1/8 inches long and 15/8 inches in diameter. It weighs between 6 and 7 ounces. One end contains a canister that, when ignited, produces orange smoke for about 20 seconds. The other end contains a pyrotechnic flame pellet that will burn for approximately 20 seconds.

Mk 1 Navy Lights

Navy lights are hand torches that burn with a brilliant light visible up to 3 miles at night. They come in two colors: blue and red. Navy blue lights

Each end of the metal tube is enclosed by a plastic cap. Under each cap is a pull ring. When you pull the ring, a friction wire attached to its inside surface moves through a cap coated with a composition that ignites (by friction), setting off either the flare or the smoke canister (depending on which ring you pull). 

When using the smoke signal, keep it to leeward. These signals are packaged 12 per aluminum container (Mk 3), 9 such containers (108 signals) per wooden box. They may also be packaged 18 signals per aluminum container (M2A1).

The signal body carries illustrated instructions for use. The flame end plastic cap has three prominent protrusions (beads) across its face to identify it as the end to use at night. When you use the signal, point it away from the face and hold it at arm's length at a 45-degree angle after it ignites. After one end of the  signal has been used, douse the signal to cool the metal  parts. Keep it so that, if necessary, the other end can be used. Each end is separately insulated and waterproofed. NEVER try to use both ends at once.

Figure l-13.-The Mk 13 marine smoke and illumination signal.

(Mk 1 Mod 1) burn for 75 seconds; Navy red lights (Mk 1 Mod O) burn for 135 seconds. The two lights are similar in appearance and construction (fig. 1-14).

Navy lights consist of a paper tube that contains the pyrotechnic substance with a wooden handle at one end and, at the other end, a cover with an exterior coating of abrasive, like that on the scratching side of a safety matchbox. A tear strip protects the exterior of the cover. The upper end of the paper tube, beneath the cover, is capped by a fabric impregnated with igniting compound similar to that on the head of a safety match.

To ignite the Navy light, tear off the protective strip, remove the cover, and scrape the inverted cover across the top of the paper tube. When you do this, it is advisable to hold the light pointing away from you at an angle of about 45 degrees to avoid contact with hot

particles falling off the pyrotechnic candle. Hold the light at that angle while it burns.

Navy lights are shipped in metal containers with 6 to 12 lights packed in each. The metal containers are packed into cardboard cartons that hold 12 metal containers. Since these lights deteriorate when exposed to moisture, they should not be removed from their containers until ready for use. For the same reason, keep them away from water or moisture. Lights that have been left in open containers for more than 6 months should be turned into the nearest ammunition depot at the earliest opportunity. Lights that have become chemically encrusted or give off an acetic acid (vinegar) odor should be disposed of immediately. Put them in a weighted sack and dump them overboard

Figure l-14.-The Mk 1 Navy light.

Mk 79 Mod O and Mod 2 Personnel Distress Signal Kits

These kits (fig. 1-15) are designed to be used by downed aircrew personnel or personnel in life rafts as a distress signaling device. It is small and lightweight so that it can be carried in pockets of flight suits or on life rafts. The projector aims and fires the signals. Each signal contains a red pyrotechnic star. On activation, this star is propelled upward to a minimum height of 250 feet. The star burns for a minimum of 4 1/2 seconds.

The Mk 79 Mod O kit consists of one Mk 31 Mod O surface signal projector, a plastic bandoleer holding seven Mk 80 hand-fired signals, and an instruction sheet. The Mk 79 Mod 2 kit contains Mk 80 Mod 2 signals.

The projector consists of a steel cylinder slightly more than 5 inches long and approximately 1/2 inch in diameter. The base (or handle) is knurled to provide a more positive gripping surface. Fixed at the base end is an eyebolt to which is tied a 48-inch polypropylene cord, the other end of which is attached to a plastic bandoleer designed to hold seven signals. The firing end of the projector is interiorly threaded for the insertion of a signal. Near this end is a firing slot through which the trigger screw moves when it is released from the angle safety slot. The trigger screw is attached to the firing pin that is forced against the signal primer by a helical spring within the knurled portion of the cylindrical body.


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