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Morse code battleships game

Imagine you’re in the communications centre (COMCEN) of a real battleship: It is a US DDG class Guided Missile Destroyer. It is your job to send missile launch commands to the fleet using Morse code. You better get this right or else those missiles won’t hit their targets. Watch out for reports of incoming missiles too. "All hands. Battle Stations. Battle Stations. We’re under attack."


Radio telegraphy using Morse code was vital during World War II, especially in carrying messages between the warships and the naval bases. Long-range ship-to-ship communication was by radio telegraphy, using encrypted messages, because the voice radio systems on ships then were quite limited in both their range and their security.


Two teams sit facing each other in a room. Each team has a Morse code practice set and a playing board as shown below. Members of each team take it in terns to send launch codes to the other team.

Morse code battleship game board


  1. Each team secretly places 5 battleships (marked with an X) randomly on their grid (A-Z, 0-9) above. Toss a coin to see who goes first.
  2. Take it in turns to:
    1. Send a grid square to attack. E.g. “C3”.
    2. Any enemy battleships in that square and in the 8 adjacent squares will be destroyed
    3. Colour in all 9 squares you have attacked
    4. Wait for a report to see what happened…
    5. Receive each grid square of any battle ships sunk: E.g. “B2”, “D4” or “.” ●—●—●— for a total miss.
    6. Draw a circle “O” in the grid square of any battleship sunk
    7. Receive the grid square of incoming missiles. Any of your ships in that square and in the 8 adjacent squares will be sunk.
    8. Send the damage report: The grid squares of each sunk vessel or “.” ●—●—●— for a total miss.


Copy the playing board and have a game with your friends and members of your family. If you don't have a Morse code practice set, you can use a whistle or flashlight instead. If you want to build a Morse code practice set ask your SARC coordinator how.