Single hand setup
Commissioned 17th June 1942 The HMAS Castlemain was a Bathurst class minesweeper for the Royal Australian Navy during World War 2. She now resides as a permanent floating museum on Williamstown pier with a great view of Melbourne city from her rear decks. Today I am going to record everything that bumps and squeaks on an old warship. Sadly none of the weapons work anymore because everyone likes a good loud bang, but there are quite a few interesting sounds to be captured from this old warship.
I have adopted the same recording setup as I used at the children’s farm a few weeks back. It is fairly practical for having everything setup in one hand, although it can get a little heavy after a while. I have the H4N strapped to the side of the blimp cover for the MKH60 and the D112 also attached to the blimp cover pistol grip. I need something I can move easily with as I will be climbing up and down stairs between decks and warships don’t traditionally have a lot of room to move. Some of the stairs are going to be enough of a challenge as it is with only one hand free.
I started by moving around the ship recording the more straightforward elements. Doors, hatches, and switches all made fairly unique sounds compared to their modern day variants. The museum also an interesting variety of ships bells including one from a Japanese ship. I recorded several rings of all of these. The weather wasn’t great today, but I spent most of the time below deck so it wasn’t too much of an issue. Some of the hatches had multiple clamps to seal them and they made nice clunky sounds.
Things started to get interesting when they offered to start up the engines for me. Traditionally the Castlemaine was steam powered via giant boilers. These days they have a modern compressor in one of the deck houses that provides pressure to drive the main pistons, but they can only run at a low speed. The pistons themselves were actually not as loud as I was expecting. Being powered by steam pressure and being very well maintained they moved smoothly and quietly. The Castlemaine also has a range of different pumping engines to circulate the water around the ship, run the water purifier (steam engines need distilled water) and maintain things like ballast and other systems. I was very lucky to have all of these started up for me to record. They all made different sounds depending on their purpose. They also started up the diesel engine for me. One of the diesels was used to generate a current that was directed through a network of wires trailing behind the ship. The current in these wires would trigger certain types of mines in the water.
As a final treat they activated the ships siren for me. This was a steam driven horn used as a fog horn or to indicate actions in port. Overall I got some really good material as well as a good lesson on Australian Navel history form some of the guys working on the ship on the day.
Stephan Schütze has been recording sounds for over twenty years. This journal logs his thoughts and experiences