News & Press: RIN

Peter Francis Charles Griffiths

17 July 2019   (0 Comments)
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We are sorry to report that Peter Griffiths (member 1973, fellow 1982) has died at the age of 92. He had been suffering for a while with dementia.

Peter qualified in maths and physics and joined the Royal Naval Scientific Service where he was concerned with the development of naval radar and radio systems. In particular he was involved in radio satellite, sonar and inertial navigation systems.

In 1974 the International Maritime Organization (IMO) published a new edition of the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). This greatly increased the requirements for the mandatory carriage of navigation equipment on merchant ships. Previously the 1960 SOLAS had requirements limited to a signalling lamp and a direction finder. Now, additionally, there were requirements to carry a magnetic compass, a gyro compass, radar, echo sounder, speed and distance equipment and indicators.

The new SOLAS also introduced a new obligation on Governments to type approve the navigational equipment against standards developed by the IMO. Peter was asked to set up a facility for the UK which he did at Fraser Range which had been a torpedo range at Eastney near Southsea. Fraser did all the UK type approvals until the process was privatised in the 1990s.

A difficulty in all this for manufacturers was that the IMO standards did not include much detailed technical parameters which resulted in the different Governments specifying different equipment designs for their ships. The manufacturers association, CIRM, was campaigning for common technical standards which could be accepted internationally and this resulted in the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) setting up a new technical committee (TC80) in 1980 to develop technical standards for navigational instruments. TC80 quickly proved its worth and the IEC standards became accepted by Governments.
In 1986 the Secretary post of TC80 became vacant and Peter was invited to take on the role upon his retirement from the Royal Naval Scientific Service. He in fact held the post for the next 11 years.

Peter then took a role of assisting the radar manufacturers with negotiations in the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) concerning radio spectrum issues. ITU was studying acceptable levels of interference from radars which threatened radar performance. When this was successfully resolved another problem arose of interference to radars, due to the increasing amount of spectrum being made available for mobile telephone systems. Bands adjacent to the radar bands were under consideration. Peter continued to assist the radar manufacturing companies in this exercise until his 90th year.

He leaves a daughter and a son and a long-term partner.

His funeral is on 25th July at 1.45 at the Wessexvale Crematorium Southampton SO32 2UA. His family has requested donations to the Royal Institute of Navigation, a registered charity. The Institute's bank details may be found via the following link.

Kim Fisher