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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event

from Don Keith, N4KC on May 30, 2009
View comments about this article!

Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event


By Don Keith, N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.n4kc.com

There is a special operating event coming up the weekend of June 6 and 7. For those two days, we hams will have the opportunity to speak with amateur radio operators who have set up their stations near or aboard a wide array of historic U.S. Navy vessels around the country as well as at other ships around the world. This event is sponsored each year by the Battleship New Jersey Amateur Radio Society, NJ2BB. The purpose—besides having a great time and giving visitors to those historic ships a glimpse of amateur radio—is to honor the brave men who served aboard the vessels and to call attention to the museums.

For more information on the event, you can visit club’s web site at www.nj2bb.org. I also strongly suggest that if you have interest in your country’s history, you should visit the web site for the Historic Naval Ships Association at www.hnsa.org. You may be surprised to find there is one of these museum ships in your area and decide to go for a visit.

If those bulkheads could talk

There are truly some fascinating vessels out there, and many of them will be on the air that weekend. For example, the submarine that is at the highest elevation any submarine has ever been. She rests high and dry, in the middle of a bean field in the midst of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. “She” is USS Batfish, who sank three enemy submarines in three days back in World War II. And the hams who activate her for this and other events use a great call sign: WW2SUB.

USS Batfish at sea in WWII. She now hosts amateur radio station WW2SUB during special events.

Batfish today in Muskogee, Oklahoma. You can almost see WW2SUB's dipole from bow to shears to stern.

Then there are the battleships: USS New Jersey, USS Texas, USS Wisconsin, USS Alabama and more. If you saw the movie Under Siege in which Steven Seagal kicked a bunch of terrorists off a battleship—even though he was only the ship’s cook—then you saw the USS Alabama, on which the film was shot. Look for the special event call sign W4A from the Alabama this year, as well as the submarine USS Drum, which is right next to it.

Radio room today aboard the battleship USS New Jersey. NJ2BB operates from here.

And of course, the Queen Mary will be on the air, too, with her usual W6RO call letters. Why is she among the military vessels? Many do not realize that the Queen Mary was used as a troop ship in WWII and she transported more than three-quarters of a million soldiers to and from war. And took Sir Winston Churchill to three different conferences.

Worldwide Event

The more than 75 vessels on the air will be spread across the U.S., from KH6BB at the USS Missouri in Hawaii (on whose decks the treaty that ended World War II was signed) to W8COD on the submarine USS Cod in Cleveland—one of the most authentically restored of the ships—to the German mini-sub U-5075 Seehund operating as WW2MAN from Quincy, Massachusetts.

here

Battleship USS Missouri radio room today. She is a museum ship today in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and hosts amateur radio station KH6BB operating from this room.

You can work DX and talk with the ships, too. There will be historic vessels represented from Australia, Germany, Denmark, Great Britain, Sweden, Belgium, Italy, Austria, and more.

And there is a wide variety of ships participating, too, including LSTs, Coast Guard cutters, aircraft carriers, destroyers, ice-breakers, minesweepers, and more. There is even a naval air ship and some tugboats.

here

Charleston is the home for several historic ships, including the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown. Look for WA4USN operating from aboard this historic ship.

Job well done

I have no connection with the operation but always enjoy working the various stations. Some will simply be exchanging signal reports and greetings. Others will have operators who will take the time to talk about the vessel, its history, its heroic crewmembers. Those are the ones I especially enjoy contacting.

Take a few moments during your busy weekend to give some of the ships a call. I know you will enjoy it. Thank the ops, too, who are giving up their own weekends to be there. Not only are they giving visitors to the museum ships some exposure to our wonderful hobby, but they are also calling worldwide attention to these historic vessels. Take this opportunity to learn more about them and the sacrifices their crews and their families made on our behalf. Hopefully, it will give you not only a better appreciation of those brave sailors, but also for history in general.

Job well done—veterans, NJ2BB crew, and all the rest who put on this wonderful event each June!

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event  
by K0BG on May 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I suspect it will be a busy day for all of the certificate hunters.


Alan, KØBG
www.k0bg.com
 
RE: Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event  
by KU2US on May 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Cant wait for this one. I like SE like this because of the history and the photos of the vessels.

Ken-KU2US
 
Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event  
by GM0WEZ on May 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
An execellent event, with the serious purpose of remembrance as well as being a lot of fun.

I'm glad to see that HMS Belfast and HMAS Diamantina will also be on the air, as well as many other ships across the world. I look forward to working the ships of the US Navy and will be remembering those who served aboard them.
 
RE: Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event  
by N2UGB on May 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I've had the pleasure of contacting the Belfast. Also seeing it. Unfortunately, was Boxing Day so no visits. Maybe next year. Don't forget the Merchant Marine. Viewing the dvd "The Battle of the Atlantic" from the BBC, highly recommended.
 
RE: Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event  
by W7ETA on May 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Great prose.
Nice article.

Many thanks
Bob
 
Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event  
by K4LJA on May 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Don --
You are a master writer.
I'll try contacting some
of the stations.
My deceased father was a
Navy skipper off Iwo Jima, but
my brother and I were in the
Army.
Keep up the great articles.

Randy K4LJA in Monroe, LA
 
Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event  
by WB4LFC on May 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Good article Don.
I am looking forward to working as many ships as I can.Thanks for posting this.



WB4LFC
Mike in Sylacauga,AL
 
Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event  
by K0YQ on May 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Enjoyed the great article and information but with respect to the USN anchors go aweigh, not away.
 
Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event  
by AE6YB on May 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Looking forward to working some of the ships also. I had the privledge of operating the station, KH6BB, on board the Battleship Missouri last year and what a thrill that was.

Pictures: http://ae6yb.tripod.com/id7.html

Great article and pictures.

Thanks,
Will
AE6YB
 
RE: Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event  
by N0YXB on May 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Cool article. I was a kid and remember when they brought the Batfish up the Arkansas River. News spread through Ozark, Arkansas that a submarine was coming up the river. A lot of people showed up at the Lock and Dam observation site to watch the tug crew push her (and the barges) up the river. It's neat that she's become a memorial to submariners.

Vince
N0YXB
 
RE: Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event  
by K9MHZ on May 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Battin' a thousand on the positive replies to the post.... keep it up guys!

Brad
K9MHZ
 
RE: Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event  
by KE7FD on May 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Good. Very good.
 
RE: Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event  
by G3LBS on May 31, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Don't forget the 'Little Rock' in the Buffalo Naval Park, the home of RAWNY - Radio Amateurs of Western New York, with the Sullevan (spelling?) submarine. Here she is -
http://www.pbase.com/dhnieman/image/84995482
Buffalo Gil W2/G3LBS
 
RE: Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event  
by G3LBS on May 31, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Correction -
Buffalo Naval Park is home of the USS Little Rock, USS The Sullivans and the USS Croaker. Gil
 
RE: Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event  
by G3LBS on May 31, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Some English stations will also be active commemorating anniversary of D-Day. See ARRL Special Events page. Gil
 
RE: Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event  
by N5YFC on May 31, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Very good article
I will be abore the USS KIDD in Baton Rouge, LA
running CW around 7.060 to 7.065. There will
also be SSB upstairs in the radio room.

See you on the air!
Wayne
N5YFC
 
Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event  
by KG4TKC on June 1, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the heads up,or I might have missed it. I enjoy working SE's and this old navy ships. Some nice pieces of history here!
 
RE: Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Even  
by WT0A on June 1, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Dang, I thought it was Anchors Awiegh.
Glen WT0A
 
RE: Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event  
by N4KC on June 1, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the comments, and yes, I know it is "Anchors Aweigh!"

Hopefully you will all help spread the word and this will be the biggest year yet for hams around the world working these vessels on the air. Fact is, some of the museum ships rely only on volunteers and admissions to keep them going. Some of them are deteriorating at a rapid pace.

Hopefully events such as this will call attention to them and their value and generate more volunteers and visitors. These vessels are wonderful ways to preserve history and remind future generations of the sacrifice and bravery of those men and women who served aboard them...regardless of which side they were on.

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com
www.n4kc.blogspot.com
(An open blog dedicated to rapid technological change
and its effect on society, media and amateur radio)
Follow me at www.twitter.com/don_keith
 
Anchors A'weigh  
by K5END on June 1, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
.
So is there a centralized site for these ships?

The Battleship Texas is in my own back yard, but am curious if they'll be on the air.
 
RE: Anchors A'weigh  
by K5END on June 1, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
BY THE WAY...

I've never found a good place to ask this, but this might just be it.

I have a USN OZ-1 tube tester (Hickok) I'd love to donate to the appropriate WWII vessel, particularly one near QTH.

I'd planned to send it to the Pampanito in SF a while back, but lost contact with them; not getting calls or emails returned.

It does not work, needs tubes and needs some cosmetic restoration. I even have the manual ...somewhere...
 
RE: Anchors A'weigh  
by N4KC on June 1, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
K5END:

Hope you get a taker on your vintage tube tester.

The Naval Historic Ship Association is a great spot to start to learn more about all musuem ships worldwide. The link is above in the article.

73,

Don N4KC
 
RE: Anchors A'weigh  
by K5END on June 1, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks, yes I checked that link and the other links.

I've visited several retired Naval ships and boats/subs over the years and have noticed a concerted improvement from "back in the day" until now.

In the old days they were plain, gutted and boring...seen one, seen 'em all.

Not so now days. Things are actually restored.

And the radio rooms work. That is awesome.
 
RE: Anchors A'weigh  
by K5END on June 1, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
From the research I found, that tube tester model was used late in WWII, standard on many USN craft launched in '44 and '45. Seems like it was Hickok 540(?) but the military number is OZ-1.

Someone will want it eventually.
 
RE: Anchors A'weigh  
by KE5GHC on June 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Here is a link to the radio club on the Battleship Texas: http://www.na5dv.org/.
 
RE: Anchors A'weigh  
by K5END on June 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"Here is a link to..."

Thanks, have seen it. I actually know some of these guys. One of them is in our Ham club.
 
Anchors A'weigh  
by K3ALE on June 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Very cool!

My first ever HF QSO was with Ed aboard the battleship USS North Carolina (call sign NI4BK, from the ship's original naval call NIBK). The guys down at Azalea Coast ARC have done a wonderful job making a national treasure "radio-active" again!

Making my first contact was a rush in itself, but to realize the history involved adds a whole extra level of appreciation. I'm looking forward to hearing more pieces of naval history on the air!!

Check out the ship here:

http://ac4rc.org/battleship/battleship.html

Also, funny enough, I had the pleasure to talk to Ed a couple of weeks later. This time he was operating from the Oak Island Lighthouse as AC4RC (club call). That guy will activate anything! I still don't know his personal call though...

73,

Lorn K3ALE
 
RE: Anchors A'weigh  
by N4JTE on June 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Thank you Don.
 
RE: Anchors A'weigh  
by N3HAM on June 3, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I just wanted to say that the U.S.S.Olympia WA3BAT here in Philly will be on the air this weekend. We got her antenna fixed today.We will be dedicating our operating to the memory of a great ham friend, club founder and museum ship radio club pioneer, Dusty Rhoads ND3Q SK. We hope to hear a lot of signals. 73
 
RE: Anchors A'weigh  
by K5END on June 4, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Well,
I'm very happy to say that after a couple of emails and finding the right person to contact, I'm scheduled to be one of those OM operating this weekend from the USS Texas. I can't describe how excited I am about doing this.
 
RE: Anchors A'weigh  
by OLDSWAB on June 5, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Just want to say that the Indy Radio Club will be on the air for the USS Indianapolis CA-35. Check out website www.indyradioclub.org/ussindy.htm Our call sign is WW2IND. We are in the process of making a radio room to commemorate all who served the Indy and hope to have this room on the air soom. Me, well I'm just an old swab helping to build the room for the Indy. You might catch me on the mike during this event.Be listening for everybody. Robert Tevault USS Wasp CVS-18 EM2.
 
Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event  
by W2WP on June 5, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Don,
I always look forward to this SE, always a challenge and fun.
Mark
 
RE: Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event  
by N4KC on June 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Despite my daughter's wedding and all the events involved along with guests in the house, I still managed to contact 24 of the museum ships this weekend. Thanks to all who gave up part of their weekend to put the ships on the air!

Most painful contact: KK5W, who complained that he was sweating on the log so badly he could hardly see it. He was set up in the Texas sun near Galveston Bay and USS Cavalla, a WWII submarine.

Strongest signal: NJ2BB, though probably a bit hot on the processing.

Most sought-after contact: W6RO aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach. I've been there, spent a couple of nights aboard the "haunted" floating hotel, and visited the radio room. Now I've finally talked with the ship via the airwaves.

Biggest disappointment: I did not hear any of the Hawaiian, European or Australian ships. I did work several from Canada.

Of course, it is always a pleasure to talk with the USS Batfish in Muskogee, Oklahoma. WW2SUB is aboard a truly remarkable vessel and I have come to know some of her WWII crewmembers over the years.

Good to hear a lot of activity, and some downright DX-like pileups for some of the ships.

Thanks again, guys and gals, for putting on this event and keeping these valuable vessels in the public eye...along with amateur radio.

73,

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com
www.n4kc.blogspot.com
(A blog dedicated to rapid technological change and
its effect on society, media, and amateur radio)
 
RE: Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event  
by K5END on June 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
.
So who was that tuning on 20 meters all afternoon, for 30 to 45 seconds at a time?

Did they ever get that matched?

Is 20 m SSB always like that?
 
RE: Anchors Away for Historic Ships Ham Radio Event  
by KI6QYJ on June 14, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Heh, no, 20m is not always like that. :)

I was proud to be one of the ops for W6ZZK aboard the LCI(L)-1091, the only remaining oceangoing Large Infantry Landing Craft in the world. It was my great pleasure to work a number of WWII vets as well as children of same and more recent vets.

When 20m opened up solidly, things were so crowded up around the 20m operations freq for the museum ships that I was only able to make perhaps 15 or 20 contacts in the last several hours of the event. I had to keep hopping around to escape QRM, and often there was no spot for me to work between 14250 and 14285! I wanted to stay reasonably close to 14260 so people could find up and didn't want to dip down into the more DX-oriented areas as 20m was apparently great that Sunday. My apologies to those trying to get a QSO from us who wasn't able to "chase us down". Next time, a better antenna and maybe a rig with better IF filtering. Those who persevered will be treated to a beautiful full-color card with a pre-D-Day invasion photo on the front of landing craft and escort vehicles waiting to pull out of port to sail for Normandy beach; the back has the radio flags and campaign ribbons for the 1091, her history (bring a magnifier, I didn't want to leave anything out!), and some info on the D-Day invasion.

Watch for the 1091 to be doing several special events a year, and of course we will be on the air for future Museum Ship Weekends! 73 de AF6ME
 
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