Museum Ships on the Air 2008
Sponsored by the Battleship New Jersey Amateur Radio Society
WW2LST Museum Ship LST 325 NWVC
Throughout the world there are several ships that have been retired from active duty and have been brought back to life as museum ships. These ships are open to the public and offer a glimpse into their past lives and the lives of the crew that sailed them. The LST 325 is such a ship.
Once a year many of these grand museum ships participate in an event called Museum Ships on the Air. For a 48 hour period amateur radio operators from around the world attempt to contact as many of these ships as they can. If they can log a minimum of 15 such ships they can receive a nice certificate to display. This year a total of 74 ships participated in the event.
The LST 325 participated in the event this year. SCPO Perry Ballinger fired up the ships vintage radios and once again the airways were filled with Morse code, the language the ships used in WWII to communicate.
Some ships use modern amateur radio equipment while a limited number use their restored World War II military radios to make contacts. LST 325 is fortunate enough to have both. Volunteer amateur radio operators man the equipment during the event and try to answer as many contacts as they can.
Another historic event was taking place this weekend. On June 6, 1944, a date known ever since as D-Day, a mighty armada crossed a narrow strip of sea from England to Normandy, France, and cracked the Nazi grip on western Europe. The versatile Landing Ship Tanks played a key role and it could not have been done without them.
Boarding various amphibious assault crafts from LST 325, re-enactors portrayed this event and stormed the beaches (of the Ohio River) where they conquered the German forces occupying the marina. What made it more interesting was the Army re-enactors were using vintage army communications equipment to talk to the LST 325 radio room.
During the Museum Ships on the Air event, we had eight ham radio operators take part in the event aboard LST 325. Band conditions were not good but we managed to log 89 Morse code contacts and 91 contacts using voice modes for a total of 180 contacts. We were able to make contact with eighteen other museum ships during the event. Other museum ships could be heard at one time or another but we could not make a valid contact with them due to poor conditions. Of particular interest was the contact made with LST 393 in Michigan. She is another museum ship of the same class as the LST 325. Can you imagine these sister ships once again talking to each other over the radio?
LST 325 made contacts with the following class museum ships:
1 aircraft carrier
2 Destroyer Escorts
1 Light Ship
1 Great Lakes Bulk Carrier
My thanks to Bob for working up the comprehensive summmary
of our log for the Memorial Ships annual On-the-Air weekend. He also coordinated the visits of the Evansville area Amateur Radio operators so we had two to three operators at all times.
One of the highlights of our effort is to talk to the farthest away ship, which no other ship seems to be able to do. It's the Frigate on the lower end of Bob's list:
It's the HMAS Diamantina, (His Majesty's Australian Ship)
Yes, Australia! HMAS Diamantina is the only memorial ship on the air "down under" so he has to contact ships mainly in the northern hemisphere. And the operator there, Colin, tells us we are the only memorial ship he is able to contact during the whole 48 hours! It has been this way for two straight years! He does make contact with Amateur Radio Operators around the world, however. One factor in talking to Australia is the time difference.
And our contact with Diamantina is not with the fancy new radios that we do have, but with our vintage 1942 transmitters and receivers! Diamantina also uses their WW2 equipment. And we use CW, or Morse Code, the principle mode in use in WW2 and up into the late sixties.
For those interested in the time of day we contact Colin, it's from 5-7 a.m. here and 10 p.m.-12 midnight the next day in Brisbane. Our contact was Saturday morning on the 7 Mhz band. (The path between us is then almost totally dark)