MRHS Newsletter No. 46
Dedicated to True Believers Worldwide
Special Night of Nights Update Edition

30 July 2014

Newsletter back issues click HERE                                        MRHS Web site click HERE

Additional details for Night of Nights 2014 - Plus More!

Event Date: 12 July 2014 Pacific Daylight Time
First Transmission form MRHS Stations: 5:01pm Pacific Daylight Time 12 July, 0001Z 13 July 2014

> Report from the Department of Gratitude

> KSM 22Mc added to list

> Review of event date, time and location

> More information on post-Night of Nights event (not to be missed)

> Complete list of events commemorating the 100th anniversary of commencement of          Marconi operations at Bolinas and Marshall, CA

> SASE requested by USCG

> Bolinas station mentioned in transmission from SAQ

> USCG Ocean Station ships - A report from one who was there


> Report from the Department of Gratitude

In this edition we'll add some information to the original Night of Nights announcement made in Newsletter No. 45, which you may want to check out for all the applicable station and frequency information.

But before we go any further we must acknowledge with great gratitude all those who responded to the appeal in the last Newsletter with financial help to keep the Night of Nights events and the MRHS in general a going concern.  The response was truly heartening - and meaningful beyond the funds involved.  No matter the amount of the donation, it means a lot to know that others beyond ourselves think our project is worthy of support.

If you can help, just click on the donation button.  Thanks!



Make a Donation


 Thanks too to all those who have subscribed to the MRHS Newsletter.  Welcome aboard! 


> KSM 22Mc added to list


Transmitter Supervisor Steve Hawes has written to say that in addition to the frequencies listed for KSM in Newsletter No. 45 our 22Mc frequency will likely be on the air, this due to heroic antenna and feed line work that is still ongoing. 


Steve also restored the radio room aboard SS RED OAK VICTORY/KYVM Here he is copying traffic at the ITT/Mackay console

The updated KSM frequency list is:



Frequency           Transmitter                     Antenna

500/426               Henry MF-5000D            Marconi T
8438.3                 Henry HF-5000D            Double Extended Zepp
12993.0               Henry HF-5000D            H over 2
16914.0               Henry HF-5000D            H over 2
22445.8               Henry HF-5000D            H over 2

The Henry will also be a hot standby for the restored vintage H set 298H which will normally be assigned to the KPH 22Mc frequency 22477.5.


> Review of event date, time and location  


Date: Saturday 12 July 2014 Pacific Daylight Time 


Location: RCA receiving station, 17400 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Point Reyes National Seashore   


Click HERE for a map of the location from Google Maps 


Time: Doors open at 3:00pm pdt, first transmission 5:01pm pdt (0001gmt 13 July)


Refreshments: Served


Photographs: Encouraged


Tours: Given


The receive site may be contacted by phone on +1 415-669-9646   


None of this would have been possible without the trust and vision of the Point Reyes National Seashore.  The only reason these facilities were spared the bulldozer that visited all the others is that they are on park land.  And the only reason they have been restored to operation is that the PRNS staff understood their importance and trusted the MRHS to restore them to life.  


We will send last minute changes and signal reports by Twitter.  You can join Twitter free at:

and follow us at @Radiomarine

> Marconi author Calvin Trowbridge Jr. Book Talk and Reception

Make it  full weekend of radio with this event the day after Night of Nights

Date: Sunday, July 13
Time: 2 pm to 5 pm
Location: Red Barn Classroom at Bear Valley.  Directions.
Phone: 415-464-5125

Description: Meet the author of Marconi: Father of Wireless, Grandfather of Radio, Great-Grandfather of the Cell Phone, The Story of the Race to Control Long-Distance Wireless. He will speak about Marconi's empire building, the competition and patent wars, and the fast pace of invention and technology change as the potential for radio became understood in the early 20th century. Books will be available, enjoy a chat with the author and complimentary refreshments.

But wait, there's more!

After Calvin Trowbridge's talk, Alex Magoun, PhD , IEEE Historian from Rutgers University, and past director of the Sarnoff Library will present a talk titled,  What's a Wireless World for? RCA Communications from Long Wave to Satellite, 1920-1985
Please join hosts at Point Reyes National Seashore,  with introductions by the park Museum Director, Carola DeRooy. Light refreshments served 2-3 pm. Talks begin at 3:00pm. 

Call 415-464-5125 or email  for more 

> Complete list of events commemorating the 100th anniversary of commencement of              Marconi operations at Bolinas and Marshall, CA

There are many must-attend events commemorating the 100th anniversary of commencement of Marconi trans-Pacific operations at Bolinas and Marshall, California.

Please click HERE or the image above for a complete listing of these events.  Let us know if you're coming and maybe you can visit us as well.  Just send an email to

> SASE requested by USCG

In Newsletter No. 45 we posted the surface mail and email addresses to which Night of Nights reception reports could be sent.  Now comes ET1 Mike Leska, the person primarily responsible to getting the USCG stations on the air this year, to request that those wanting a verification card for reception of these stations please include a self addressed stamped envelope with your report.  One of their snappy cards, perhaps your last chance to get one, certainly seems worth an envelope and stamp.

> Bolinas station mentioned in transmission from SAQ

As pretty much all True Believers know, the last remaining Alexanderson alternator in the world still in operation is at Grimeton Radio in Sweden.  The station is designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.  The gentlemen who operate the site have done us the great honor of visiting Bolinas, since the site once had two of these fantastic machines.

Alexanderson alternator at SAQ Grimeton

Now comes an email message from Lars Kålland of SAQ bestowing yet another honor upon us.  SAQ transmitted the message below acknowledging the 100th anniversary of the start of trans-oceanic operations from the Bolinas site on Alexanerson Day 2014.















The transmission was sent on 17.2 kHz Alexanderson Day 2014-06-29 at 11:00 and 14:00 CET (09:00 UTC and 12:00 UTC.)


> USCG Ocean Station ships - A report from one who was there


Okay, show of hands.  How many know about the ocean station ships of the US Coast Guard?  See?  Not that many even among this elite crowd of True Believers.  Yet those ships, on duty across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to provide communications, weather and rescue services, were a vital part of of the US Coast Guard for decades.


It always seemed to us that it must have been awful duty - keeping station and keeping watch in all weather for extended periods of time.  But now comes OM John Cuneo, USCG MR3 (Ret.) who did it and loved it.  Here's his first hand story.   










June 1965


Having turned 18 in 1963 I was eligible for the draft and considering the fact that the Viet Nam situation was becoming more and more volatile I decided that I should make the decision as to which branch of the service I should enlist in rather than leave that choice up to the Selective Service Board. Having been a marine brat from day one it would certainly have pleased my dad if I had joined U.S.M.C., which when I was younger was my choice.  But as I grew older I realized that choice would not have been the right one for me. Having been a "water baby" all my life and with quite a bit of time as a deckhand on sport-fishing boats it was clear that I would enlist in either the U.S.C.G. or U.S.N.  The latter would have been out of the question, so on 8 June 1965 I was sworn in and enlisted in the U.S.C.G.  


I was transported to U.S.C.G. TRACEN Alameda Ca. Boot camp at that time was 12 weeks, however Commandant CG had decided that the duration of recruit training would be shortened to 8 weeks being reduced by increments of 2 weeks. Meaning that companies B47 and C47 would be graduating from Alameda after 10 weeks rather than 12.  


During boot camp a recruit is subjected to 5 or 6 apptitude tests to determine his job skills. As it turned out my highest scores were sonar and radio. Upon graduation in August immediately after the ceremonies four of us recieved orders to proceed to USCGTRACEN Groton Conn. for the purpose of attending Class A Radio school. This was on a Friday afternoon, we had to be there no later than (NLT) 0100 Monday, less than 3 days hence. Within four hours we were underway on a 707 enroute NYC.  


Radio school was 6 mos long, for the first month learning the code and all it's symbols and punctuation along with typing was the priority. Prior to attending radio school had anyone told me that I would be typing 55 WPM pretty soon I would have said " your crazy", but never the less it came to pass, but only because of the intensity of the training. Classes were from 0800 to 1600 Monday thru Friday, 3 of those 8 hrs per day were devoted to typing. Not only did messages need to be typed but code (CW) was also copied with a typewriter. These were not the usual office secretarial type of typewriter, these were communications typewriters, all letters were capital no small letters.  


Learning code was done with the same intensity. 3x5 cards were used with the letter, number or symbol on one side and the code equivalent in dots and dashes on the other. Also part of the curriculum was procedure, message format military and merchant, use of operating signals Q and Z. Z and Q signals for military and Q sigs for merch.  


By the 2nd month code copying becomes the prevalant issue. The code class room was set up with 3 rows of copying positions, 20 positions per row with a typewriter, key and headphones. In the front of the classroom was a console covering a third of that wall and resembling a huge reel to reel tape deck, except the reels are twice a big and use the yellow perforated TTY tape. The code speed is regulated with a steel cam resembling a pulley, the diameter of the cam determined the code speed.  

Here again code proficiency in a short amount of time was due to 3 hrs a day. We were required to efficiently copy 3 different type of message formats: plain language, numbers (OBS METEO) and encrypted.  Encrypted text was in five letter groups: ciuso xpyto apded zytpo etc.  


About the 4th month a course of fundamental electronics is required. Keeping in mind that radio operators "operate the gear" if a piece of equipment fails another unit is activated and the ET's (electronics technicians) are summoned and they diagnose and repair the inoperative equipment. But RM's are still required to have a basic knowledge of the gear they are using. 5th and 6th month more code and mock network drills with fellow students.  




Duty assignment is determined by class grade point standings. A couple of weeks before graduation "dream sheets" are given to each class member and he selects his 1st, 2nd and 3rd district choices. The class leader regardless of grade point average got has first choice, thereafter the top GP leader get his 1st district choice, if there is an opening. My GP put me exactly in the middle of the class standings. My orders sent me to USCGC INGHAM(W35) 5TH COAST GUARD DIST BERKLEY MOORINGS.


When I arrived at Berkley moorings the Ingham was not there and when I checked in with the OOD on the base I was informed that she was at COAST GUARD YARD Curtis Bay Md. in dry dock. I traveled to Curtis Bay reported aboard and started my tour of duty on an ocean station vessel.  




The yard period was interesting although life on board during that time was hectic. After a month we returned to Berkely moorings and prepared to get underway ocean station Delta. Ocean station deployment was a 35 day round trip, departing Norfolk enroute Argentia New Foundland with a brief stop at the Naval Sta Argentia to take on fuel, water, perishable food and commisary items and pick up our mail which has been rerouted to Argentia. We were usually there about 6 hrs and if you weren't on duty you could go ashore and visit the EM club where cocktails and libations were a mere 35 cents per serving. Retrieving the crew and getting underway was always a source of free entertainment.  


From Argentia we would head east enroute station. I would later learn that going to 4YB, 4YC AND 4YD would take us very close to TITANICS final resting spot. When arriving on station we would relieve the the cutter on duty and assume the call sign 4YD. There were several duties assigned to ocean stations.


First and foremost was search and rescue (SAR). Ocean stations were located between commercial shipping lanes in the mid Atlantic approximately half way between the North American and European Continent.  Our first task on station was to activate our beacon which would xmit our 4YD call sign in Morse which could be used by merchant shipping and transatlantic aircraft (A/C) using direction finding capabilities for navigation purposes.  


Second function was to provide Transatlantic A/C, mostly commercial TWA, BOAC,EL AL etc. with course and speed info to compare with their data. We were able to do this using our 29 air search radar. These operations took place in CIC which was located just aft of the bridge.  


Our third function was to take our own on station WX readings. Before leaving Norfolk we would load approx 100 helium bottles and stow them in the balloon shelter and would be used to inflate our own balloons to be released with radiosonde transmitter equipment which would send winds aloft data back to the ship. Prior to departure two personnel from the US Weather Bureau would come aboard and accompany us for the duration of the trip.


Water temp, air temp, sea height, direction, barometric pressure etc would all be compiled into message format and sent every four hrs via ratt to meteo washdc. Our function in the radio shack was to maintain the watch on 500kcs as well as the CG ratt working network which was for ocean stations to communicate with CGRADSTA WASHDC(NMH).  


2182kcs was monitored on the bridge. All the CW action was on 500kcs with the busiest times from 0800 to 2000. Watches were 4 hrs on 8 hrs off. All of the msg traffic copied was a combination of OBS and AMVER. OBS for METEOROLGY WASHDC, msgs consisted of groups of 5 numbers per group and at the most 15 groups. These groups read from left to right using a specific criteria to decode would give date and time, long and lat., temp, baro pres. water .temp, wind spd, sea height etc. Copying 30 or 40 of these per watch was a busy watch.  


AMVER for AUTOMATED MERCHANT VESSEL REPORTING SYSTEM was a program originated by the USCG made available to all merchant vessels. AMVER hq was located in NYC. Vessels that wished to participate would submit, prior to sailing, info with a description of the vessel, length, draft, beam, displacement etc. When that vsl was in the process of getting underway it would send a QTO (outbound) AMVER usually to a shore station NMF, NMY, NMN. While underway it would send an underway AMVER to and ocean station vsl. When entering port a QTP(inbound) msg would be sent usually to the CG dist. radio station, NYC NMY, Norfolk NMN etc. A "D" AMVER is a deviation msg informing AMVER of a change in course or destination. This data was entered into the computer at AMVER HQ for later reference in the event of a distress situation whether aiding the vessel or assisting another that may nearby.  


While Amver was available to anyone the Soviet Union declined to participate. On the other hand the Soviets participated in the OBS program without reservation. The reason being because they benefited from their involvement. All the OBS data copied by all oceanstations was sent to METEO where it was deciphered ,analyzed and a forecast was draftedand broadcast in plain language by NSS RADSTA WASHDC. on several freq in Morse and voice.  


The soviet RM's were no nonsense "crack" operators, there were no pleasantries or cordial greetings as with other ops. An RM never wants to send faster than he/she can receive. If a soviet op sent a QRU OBS and you blasted blasted back a --- R QSW 466/68 at 40 WPM using a Vibroplex , copied his OBS and then came back with an IMI, that would be it you wouldn't hear from him again in fact you just may hear him calling a different ocean station.   


[Click HERE to read Rick Wahl's story about working Russian ships at NMC - ed.] 


During the day 500 sounded like a beehive, who knows how many ships were up and xmting it had to be several dozen, but amazingly if necessary you could single out and copy an individual oper. because of the different tones an xmtr could have. After listening to the "beehive" one would have to assume that there are vessels all around and near, but go to the highest deck on the ship and do a 360, nothing but water. Comms were always better at night, no solar wind, but unfortunately that's when it was the quietest as far as CW activity goes, therefore in order to stay awake it was necessary to find something to do to avoid falling asleep.  


Falling asleep would depend on sea surface conditions whether on watch or in your bunk. The INGHAM was one of 7 SECRETARY class cutters built in 1935 specifically for the CG. They were 327 ft long approx 2600 tons displ a 6 ft draft. twin shaft and a cruising Speed of 21 knots. These ships were stalwart. During my 22 mo. tour of duty we pulled 6 ocean station patrols with all ,but the Delta OS, occuring in the winter months. The reason was because the 327's were strong enough to endure the heavy wx on the northern most stations in the winter. The 311"s, which were originally built for the navy and designated WAVP Seaplane tenders, were Navy "hand-me-downs" and not fit for winter ocean station patrol on those Northernmost stations. So we would be assigned to the upper stations in the winter and the Southern stations in the summer. The southern stations being DELTA and ECHO


ECHO was the "cakewalk" of ocean stations. Argentia Newfoundland was the refuel, resupply stop for those enroute to BRAVO, CHARLIE and DELTA, but for ECHO it was Hamilton Bermuda!! . More on that in a bit. I have spent quite a bit of time underway in rough and uncomfortable seas before  and after joining the CG, but one trip stands out above allothers and that was a Charlie patrol in the winter of 1967. It was rough when we arrived and the thing is it was as clear as bell, cobalt blue sky with the wind coming from the North and cold. After a few days the wind blew even more and for a 3 day period we had 90kt winds and 35/40 ft seas and not a cloud anywhere.  


We had no hot meals, cold cereals and sandwiches, we were lucky to have coffee. It was impossible to sleep, you had to hang on to the chains that your bunk was hooked to. And being on watch was really a chore. On numerous occasions the bow would rise up and then slam down in the trough all the gear which was mounted and stacked on shelves welded to the deck and the overhead would vibrate vigorously.  


On the morning of the last day of this nightmare we open the door in the radio shack on the lee side (radio was on the O2 deck) which was the port side and to our astonishment both lifeboats were gone. These were 35ft long one was a brand new fiberglass diesel powered boat and the other was one of the old monomoy diesel powered boats. The only thing remaining was a portion of the bow still attached to the block hanging from the davit. The thought crossed my mind as to whether or not I was going to see terra firma again.  


There was another interesting sight when we opened that door and that was a bull dolphin that must have been at least 4 ft long slowly swimming along side the ship and for the rest of the day it swam around us in a clockwise direction. The next morning it was gone. On another trip, either a Charlie or a Bravo and during the winter time, we had aboard a reserve SNRM from Washington DC who was fulfilling his 30 day active duty obligation. The wx was foul With lots of precipitation in the form of snow and winds in the 20 to 30 kts range. Ice started forming on our receiving wires which ran from the mainmast to the jackstaff on the bow. So the chief assigned the reserve SNRM and myself the task of clearing those wires of ice using cutoff baseball bats. The last thing the chief said to us before

we departed the radio shack was "don't hit an insulator", Rich's second swing did exactly that.  


Iced up jackstaff on USCG ocean station ship from Facebook page dedicated to these ships


The chief was absolutely overjoyed with this news and assigned me to scrounge up another one from the ET's and replace the broken one. These insulators were approx 14 to 16 inches long and an inch and a half in diameter. After locating one that was a couple of inches longer than the broken one I suited up in foul wx gear jacket, pants, cap and booties and with a boatswain's mate to accompany me I set out to perform this task. Fortunately there was a steel plate which to stand on right behind the jack staff, after climbing up on that plate and securing my safety harness around the staff I commenced on my project. Keep in mind the wind's blowing, it's snowing, seas are 15 to 20 ft and I'm standing on the bow.  


After removing the the broken pcs from the wire and the staff the new insulator is coupled to the wire

and now it's time to take up the slack and hook it up to the staff. In no way was that going to happen even with an insulator that's 2 inches longer. By the way, this wire is 100 ft long and 5/16 diameter copper 3 strand twist. A block and tackle was procured. The block secured to the staff and the hook afixed to the wire about a foot above the new insulator, two people were required on deck to heaveon the block and tackle to stretch it enough to put the pin through the shackle and secure the wire. What an experience that was!!


Ocean station ECHO was a cakewalk regardless of what time of year it was and as I said earlier instead of refueling in Argentia we would resupply in Hamilton Bermuda due to fact the OS ECHO was on the same latitude. My one and only ECHO patrol was a memorable one. We had a great commanding officer, CAPT NEAL O. WESTPHAL who was not only an excellent navigator and seaman but a nice man. Capt Westphal's previous duty assignment was USCG ACADEMY GROTON CONN. as the navigational instructor.  


After arriving in Hamilton on the return trip back to Norfolk and completing our chores, we commenced 7 days R&R. Uniforms were not allowed, civilian garb only on Bermuda. The pubs that most of us became most familiar with in Hamilton were the "Hog penny P{ub" and the "Horse and Carriage" both right across the street from one another. One of the most amazing events took place on a Saturday night at the Horse and Carriage and should probably be acknowledged in "Ripley's believe it or not" that evening there was Air Force, Marine Corp, Navy, Army USCG and British Navy all in the same bar at the same time and not an acrimonious word said at all. We all mingled, indulged in libations and a good time was had by all. That's incredible!! That 7 days in Bermuda was the finest of times!!


Being a radio op aboard ship especially while underway is rather beneficial In your free time you can copy the news, sports scores which the rest of the ship crew really appreciates, but most of all radio knows what's going on before the capt or anyone else. Because of this access to outside info I was able to enjoy custom prepared culinary treats such as fresh chocolate cookies and milk delivered while on watch, on T-bone steak night (every Wed.) my steak would come cooked to order etc.  


However, being the first to know has it's dark side as well. You know there is bad news coming when NMH wants to talk to the chief. That means one of the crew is about to rcv some bad news. But it's even more serious and personal when the chief does arrive in radio central checks in with NMH and is told to vacate everyone from radio. After 10 minutes or so the chief opens the door and tells the watch standers to resume their duties and then with folded msg in hand sets out to locate the CO.  


Normal protocol for a situation like this requires the CO to benotified immediately and either he or the XO summons the crewmember to his stateroom to inform the crew member of the news.. In our case however the chief failed to destroy the tape which was cut when the msg was sent via RATT, The tape was thrown in the trash with all the others. We all new that the msg rcvd by the chief was addressed to one of us. The senior RM1 was really pretty sharp after the watch resumed even though he was not on watch he retrieved all the throw away tapes from the trash can and without running them through the KSR28 TTY was able to decipher the tape and as it turned out the msg was addressed to him.  His two sons died from smoke inhalation while playing with matches. When we returned to Argentia he caught a Navy hop home.


Well, I could continue and write reams about Williard Willis whom we retrieved from the Atlantic in a 14 ft sailboat. Or refresher training at GITMO or our ten day Cay Sal patrol in the Florida Straits and then there's Kingston Jamaica all while aboard USCGC INGHAM (WPG-35). She is now a floating museum in Key West. Writing more is predicated on how the above is accepted.  








> MRHS Merchandise


Support the MRHS and look cool at the same time. Such a deal!  We've got hats, mugs, T shirts, belt buckles and bumper stickers, all with variations of the MRHS logo.  Get a hat and mug for yourself and a put yourself in solid with the XYL by getting her a MRHS hoodie.


Plus you'll want to be looking sharp when you visit us on Night of Nights.  No better way to do that than to be rocking some MRHS swag. 


Click on the images to go to the True Believers Store







 Just click on the images above to go to the MRHS True Believers store and browse our offerings.  Thanks!




We very much look forward to hearing you on the air or seeing you in person on Night of Nights.  Until then we wish you the best of luck and fair winds & following seas.