The purpose of this paper is to show the practical working of a messenger pigeon service and to point out conditions under which it may be used with much advantage to the fleet.
The question of communication by means of signals arose with the first organization of fleets, as it was realized that a fleet could not render efficient service unless orders could be signaled by the flagship, and thus have all vessels under the control of the central power.
During our present age of large fleets of high-powered vessels, the question of signaling becomes a most serious factor, because it is of the utmost importance for the commander-in-chief to be able to communicate rapidly over long distances in order to concentrate or deploy his vessels as the conditions of war demand.
Many codes of signals have been used, and now we find ourselves in possession of codes that have very limited ranges. By long-distance day signals our limit of communication is between three and four miles, and by night signals about seven miles, while this range may be increased at night by signaling with the electric search-light.