This past weekend, June 2-3, was Museum Ships Weekend. This annual event is sponsored by the Battleship New Jersey Amateur Radio Station NJ2BB ( http://www.nj2bb.org/) . This year 95 historic museum ships and museums participated. Unfortunately, the weekend was shared with a number of CW contests and they seemed to congregate around the same CW frequencies published for the Museum Ships Weekend event. Call it either poor planning or Murphy’s Law. Anyone who contacted at least 15 ships could earn a nice certificate. I was only able to work 7 ships but it was great fun and provided a little history lesson as well. Some of these historic ships used their original radio equipment and antennas; others used newer commercial equipment and antennas. As a result some had very strong signals and others were right down at the noise floor. The ships were on the air at random times depending upon volunteer coverage. So it was quite a challenge to find and work one but that just increased the satisfaction when finally working one.
My first ship was a Russian submarine of the Cold War era. U-461, formally designated K-24 by the former Soviet Union, plied the oceans stalking our aircraft carriers with nuclear missiles ready for launch at any time. This sub is now a museum in Peenemuende, Germany which is an historic location in its own right — Peenemuende is where all the V1 and V2 rocketry of World War II was developed and from where the United States “imported” all the top rocket scientists. Among them was Werner Von Braun without whom we would have never made it to the moon.
Next came a couple of battleships – the USS North Carolina in Wilmington, NC and the USS New Jersey in Camden, NJ. It was especially neat to work the New Jersey because I have a picture of her that I took from the flight deck of my own ship in 1968 as she prepared to make her way through the locks of the Panama Canal, headed for the South China Sea. USS New Jersey served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
The aircraft carrier USS Hornet, now a museum in Alameda Point, CA was a good catch for me. The Hornet distinguished herself in major battles in the South Pacific during World War II and served as the prime recovery vessel for Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 moon landings.
A weird call – OZ0NAVY – attracted my attention. After the exchange I looked it up and discovered that I had worked the Zeppelin and Airship Museum in Tonder, Denmark. Interesting stuff on the web about Tonder — once belonged to Germany.
The USS Albacore, in Portsmouth, NH issued in the era of the modern submarine shape. Her story is fascinating and worth checking out through Google.
My big catch of the weekend was *finally* working a ship I have been looking to work for quite awhile. I was able to snag the USS Turner-Joy now permanently berthed in Bremerton, Washington. The Turner-Joy is a destroyer which, along with another destroyer, the USS Maddox, was allegedly attacked by North Vietnamese patrol boats off the coast of North Vietnam in 1964. Then President Lyndon Johnson used this incident to convince Congress to pass the Tonkin Gulf Resolution and we all know what happened after that.
Overall, I had quite a bit of fun between working some historic ships and investigating their histories on the web. I’m looking forward to receiving some neat QSL cards. Maybe next year I can qualify for the certificate!
Oh yes…all contacts were CW QRP at 5 watts with my 44′ doublet. 73, Stan WB2LQF