Speaking Of Tubes:
Internal Ship Communication

Beginning in the 1880s, brass speaking tubes that ran through the interior of a steamship were used for internal voice communication. The system was simple and worked well.

Though the technology was available, the Victory Ships of the wartime 1940s did not have telephone links between the bridge and the radio room. They continued to depend on the reliability of the speaking tubes. Photo: Staff Photographers, SFMNHP

The Deck Officer on the bridge was able to talk to the Radio Officer using only a slightly raised voice. A whistle, built into the tube, was used to attract the attention of the person at the other end. Volunteer Jim Wade demonstrates the bridge voice tube aboard the Liberty Ship Jeremiah O'Brien, while Ranger Chris Edwards listens.