My Most Recent QSO's

Monday, December 7, 2009

Navy Battleship in Wilmington NC

It was nice returning from New York last week and getting back on the air at home. On this trip, there were TOO many "social events" to play with the radio. That's just the way it goes sometimes....

But I worked a "Special Event Station" with the characteristic "three" letter call (W2W) first thing this weekend. They were recognizing " Pearl Harbor Day " and broadcasting from Pennsylvania.

I don't particularly like thinking of this event because I was a sailor on a destroyer back in the late 60's, and I know first hand the stench of burning flesh and the feel of dead weight in vinyl bags. I only think of it during days when our nation takes time to remember the "ultimate sacrifice" of those who served and still serve in our military units today.

You never forget things like that but you DO learn to live with them. That's all I have to say about that....
Pearl Harbor was the home of the Pacific Fleet in 1941 and there were dozens of ships moored there on December 7th. We knew there was an attack coming, but didn't know the exact location or the exact time. The Japanese took full advantage of that fact, with Christmas season approaching in a few weeks, and we got caught with our pants down that day.

I like working old military and civilian ships, and since I've been an amateur radio operator, I've worked several old Coast Guard Cutters, a Submarine, and an old destroyer in Baton Rouge Louisiana, but I've never worked an old Battleship.

Until late Sunday night......

I was listening to the lower end of 40 meters (7028) when I heard the very distinct "and very slow chirp" of an old CW transmitter. It wasn't a "three" letter station but was sending "NI4BK". When I returned the call, he sent his name, my RST and his QTH (Wilmington, North Carolina). I didn't realize what I was working until I looked at the "call" on the web.

It seems the ships call was originally NIBK (back in the mid 40's) before she was decommissioned in 1947. She originally had "seven" radio rooms but only one has been completely restored. The local radio club has been working on the second for several years now.

I'm reading strictly "between the lines" here...but the signal was so faint and the "chirp" so slow (barely oscillating) I think they were using one of the original CW transmitters. I didn't hear any other transmissions after my contact.

I consider myself fortunate to have worked the USS North Carolina (BB-55) with my QRP radio. (and my first Battleship). I operated with the USS New Jersey, for a few months in the late 60's, and vividly remember "seeing" and "hearing" 16" projectiles as they passed overhead. The "fire power" of these old ships were awesome.

The "Ships Bell" from the USS West Virginia (BB-48) is just up the street from me here in Charleston. She was sunk in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7 th. 1941, after being hit with two bombs and 7 torpedo's (one of which was from a miniature submarine). There were 70 sailors that lost their lives in that attack on the West Virginia along with 1,177 on the USS Arizona. In all, well more than 2,300 sailors were lost that day.

I still remember standing on the USS Arizona Memorial back in the late 60's. There's still a trace of oil oozing from the tomb below this wreckage.
(All images courtesy of Wikipedia)


QRP Station M6RDP said...

Welcome back to the shack! Must be great to be on the radio after a break away. Hope you had a good time up there.

BTW, thoroughly enjoyed "Worldwalk". I am reading it slowly to savour it - no hurry to read such a relaxingly paced book. He is in the middle of France now. Don't think he was too impressed by our fair country!!

Well done on the ship contact. That's a nice way to be welcomed back to radio after a little break.

Season's Greetings. Adam

Jspiker said...

I'd very much like to see England and the entire United Kingdom. Maybe someday I'll be able to visit and make my own impressions.

I think Steve is still the only person to have walked "solo" around the world.

Walking or backpacking demands a person to move slowly enough to get a real feel for the people.

Of course...his walk was back in the early 80's, I'm sure the entire world has changed a lot in the last 25 years.

He should have been a ham when he did this walk. I'm sure he would have had a different perception.

Adam said...

Yeah, it would have been interesting had Steven been a HAM.

If you do get to the UK, Dorset, Devon & Cornwall have to be some of the loveliest counties in the South.

Steven passed through some lovely parts of the North of England yet still his impressions were not favourable. I think he liked the countryside but not the people.

I guess we can be a bit hard to get to know compared to certain European countries and that might come across as being cold and disinterested in the beginning.

"Warm" truly isn't one of the first words I would think of to describe the English.

But then, those that I would think of as "warm" (perhaps the Greeks or the Spaniards) may only be so on the surface. My acquaintances from certain European countries have seemed warm and friendly yet they can soon "turn" if they discover anything at all that does not fit in with their idea of what they want you to be. For instance, not eating meat or drinking alcohol, not staying up into the early hours like them etc etc

Anyway, enough rambling from me for one night. 73 Adam

Jspiker said...

To All Concerned,

I've deleted my fist "comment" on this blog since it was started late last year. It was for a good reason.

The "comment" entered a few days ago, from an "anonymous" source (no profile) apparently sought to use my blog to promote their "political ideology".

It had strong military connotations about China and the advancement of war in Space.

My "radio" blog is primarily about my contacts "on the air". I don't expect it to be anything more.

Also, let me make my position clear about "war".

It abhores me....

Those who are the first to promote it, seldom are the ones that have experienced it.

This is a "radio" blog. It promotes good will, understanding, and the exchange of friendship between those in our "world wide" hobby.

It's not a political springboard.

Dick said...

WW2 is sometimes referred to as the last "good" war, for a lot of reasons.

I enjoy working the ships as they are set up for special events. I was an Air Force AACS radioman but the Navy operators were, technically, superior.

I have a QSL card somewhere from the HMS Belfast moored on the Themes in London which I was pleased to QSO. Passed by it last Christmas but with the holidays, happened to be closed to visitors.

73 Dick

Jspiker said...

Hello Dick,

You're opening sentence is absolutly correct. I think it's also a reflection of our own "human condition". It's shameful and humiliating that it wasn't the last "war".

Sad to say, ever since my childhood, I've seen cruelty, violence, and massacre's all over the planet.

When I look up at the stars at night, I've often thought of intelligent, highly advanced civilizations visiting our world from other parts of the universe.

I'd imagine, in a very short time, they'd re-board their spaceship and quickly return to their home planet.

It's absolutly insane down here.