History of Polish coast radio stations

The text will follow has been edited from original translation and some comments were added to fill the background on the interview to OM Jan Kupski  . We were in the Soviet block for decades and not so many information about Polish maritime communication was available outside of the block. The Soviets (and some Poles too) considered all long-range radio communication as risky business for them so it was tightly controlled. I will provide the translation but I think this version with background comments will be easier to read.

Radio Officer  Jan Kupski is a nice chap that knows how to talk about all the things he used to do before retirement. As a gift to all the R/O list I’m sending you a text that I’ve made from the recordings and my knowledge about SPH/SPE/SPW/SPS coast stations in Poland. It’s not a direct translation of the interview but I think it’s close enough. So here it goes:

There were three important coast stations in Poland. One of them still exists – it’s Witowo Radio with former CW call sign SPS. This coast station does not send QTC nor arrange QRJ anymore. It just sends WX and NX on 2182 and VHF. For a short period of time there was fourth station – Warszawa Radio/SPW located in a former government communication center near Warsaw but this station was used to send press info and some SITOR traffic. Warszawa Radio used to have really powerful transmitters with full size rhombics directed to many places on Earth. Most of the QTCs and QRJs were handled by two stations Gdynia Radio (SPH c/s on CW), Szczecin Radio (SPE on CW).  They got a lot of traffic during their golden time.

spe-omnk112                                                                                        Szczecin Radio

Jan Kupski, who worked as a shift manager at Gdynia Radio remembers: „Very nice people used to work there. To be frank, Szczecin served more vessels than we had at Gdynia Radio. Szczecin took care of PŻM ships, we served Dalmor ships, for example trawlers, and PLO ships. Especially true in 70s and 80s when I used to work there. I was working at SPH for 40 years. Right now I’m retired”.

History of Gdynia Radio started before WW II. As we achieved our independency the only port available for Poland was Puck. No matter how small it was all vessels came to Puck because there was simply no alternative. There was a small radio station of Polish Navy near this port. It used military PCK call sign but also exchanged information with merchant navy vessels. Even some larger foreign ships visited Puck – only if they could pass through the shallow waters of the Puck Bay, enter the port and moor here. Later the Puck Radio used different callsign and frequency for communication with all military units. At this time an official radio prefix for Poland was TP, later changed to SP.
A few years later Polish government decided to build larger port in Gdynia, that eventually would become a competitor to non-Polish Gdańsk (Danzig at this time). Still before WW II a new, better radio station was needed. Long wave transatlantic station using two Alexanderson generators already has been built in Babice near Warsaw, it was up and running 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. This station provided worldwide coverage on two frequencies 16,4 kHz and 14,29 kHz with callsigns AXL and AXO. Similar station was built at Grimeton, Sweden.

Jan Kupski says: „Everything was difficult these times. Polish government decided to deploy as new technology as possible. Emil Jurkiewicz, ham radio enthusiast and transmitter chief engineer has found a good place to build the station at. New transmitter centre was built in Oksywie near Gdynia. Nothing was there, just a forest, no buildings at all. Right now it’s very busy part of the city, full of houses and the people. But before WW II there was only one bad, sandy, unpaved road. It was the place. All antennas were built there, covering medium waves and 500 kc, two RCA transmitters were bought, transported on board a vessel and finally installed. There were also shortwave transmitters but I don’t know anything about them. I have myself seen the RCA transmitters – the same that have been bought before 2nd WW. They worked all the time until the end of Gdynia Radio/SPH. I’ve seen the original plate of RCA with serial number „6” or „7”. The government decided to buy the newest transmitters available. They worked for years with only minor changes. I heyed this transmitter myself when I worked on 500kHz station in Gdynia Radio”.

spe-1964                                                                            Szczecin Radio in 1964

Receiving part of Gdynia Radio was in Witomino, also near  Gdynia. Original installation was used up to 1965. Then a disaster struck.

Jan Kupski said: „Receivers and transmitters were good enough for Baltic, we had the coverage, everything was going well. In the 1965 Polish fishermen started their work in rough waters of the North Sea. They were sailing on small trawlers of B17 series – we called them „birdies” because of their names. Three of them went under. First, then second then third – such a tragedy. They were bad unlucky ships. There was no radio connection to them from Gdynia, fishermen died, nobody could help”.

The communist party decided that a newer, better radio station would be built. This station should hear Polish vessels at greater distances, especially from the North Sea. The „birdies” were scrapped. Many new ships were built, new radio sets were produced. One of them was „Wieloryb” (a whale in Polish). It was a licensed copy of Elektromekano S series main transmitter, later modified to use 2 tubes QB3/300 in the final stage delivering 600W on CW and a some less on AM. All Polish vessels were voice capable at this time but only on AM. We needed just a better coast station.

Jan Kupski remembers: „A special department of Ministry of Communication was established. They had to find a good place for the receiving station. Zbyszko Kupczyk, a well known ham radio operator SP5ZK used to work there, he travelled and checked all possible places. I even had a QSO with him. He told me that several places were considered and eventually Rekowo Górne won. Nobody knew why. I was told that it was a political thing. Eventually our receiving station was built there. All equipment such as switches and antennas were built by Polish companies. Antennas were a copy of Soviet ABRH and ABRW receiving aerials. They were excellent. I personally think that ABRH and ABRW are one of the best stationary receiving antennas that have ever been built”.

abrh2              ABRH receiving aerials /typical short waves antennas used in the Countries of SOVIET block

After 2nd WW there was a breakup in construction of receiving antennas – Americans learned about Yagi and logperiodics antennas in Japan but Russians used traditional multielement travelling wave antennas. They were used in a set of 2×3 and even more. Such sets of ABRH (horizontal) and ABRW (vertical) multi element travelling wave receiving antennas were built in Rekowo Górne near Gdynia. It took a few years to build such a complicated setup. Right now there is a department of Office of Digital Communication, in the same building.

Transmitting center in Oksywie was also refitted with new transmitters and antennas, Gdynia Radio started its new era in Rekowo Górne. We as a country from Eastern block got a special permission from the Western countries to buy a high power Marconi transmitters and new Marconi and Racal receivers. They were state of the art of the time. At this time IMO implemented single sideband voice communication – Gdynia Radio upgraded the equipment just in time. In the 1971 everything was pure SSB. At the same time all Polish vessels had their radio upgraded to the new Polish Mewa (mewa – a seagull in Polish) transmitters and EKV receivers. Even some foreign ships used this main transmitter, the performance was similar to Marconi Conqueror at two third of its size.

Jak Kupski says: „Mewa was really good transmitter, reliable and powerful. Vessels had their former radio equipment scrapped and new integrated station was fitted in. It was state of the art, rugged, solid, worked all the time, later versions had digital frequency synthesizer. Four 4CX250 tubes delivered full kilowatt of output power so all the Polish vessels could be easily heard. Some problems were caused by a faulty transistor in the synthesizer unit but it was enough to change the transistor to a Western one. Worked like charm”.

Last SSB message sent by GDYNIA RADIO

Marcin Marciniak, SP5XMI

Italian Amateurs in the 60’s

Dear Sparks,

there is a well known youtube video maybe unknown to foreign radio fashionated, it is in Italian language but the images of the clip are very rappresentative so I suggest to watch the movie to remember how serious was our passion in the past. In the clip there is a piece where it is showed  Italian ham radio apprenticians busy in morse code training in an ARI radioclub.

Enjoy to video,



New Zealand Shortwave Communications; Morse code.

Dear Sparks,

notified by our Friend Geoffrey POWELL c/s M1EDF,  I publish an old documentary about the use of morse code in New Zealand for maritime service.

The romance of the radiotelegraph service. This service utilized the high frequency spectrum known as “shortwave” (from 3 MHz up to 30 MHz) as well as the longwave and medium frequency spectrum (below 3 MHz). This is a short film about communication to and from New Zealand on these shortwaves, using Morse code (eventually, using CW modulation). This film is a 1939 Government film scanned to 2K from a 16mm combined B/W reduction print. It is from ArchivesNZ ( ) and is licensd under Creative Commons Attribution, reuse allowed.



The story of pilots of Rotterdam

Pilot on the bridge

Rotterdam is the largest and busiest port in the world. All kinds of ships are there; big and small. With all types of loads. 80,000 thousand ships a year are loaded and unloaded here, day and night. And there is a lot of organization to moore large ships to get neatly in place. Pilotage Rotterdam provides to these requestes.

Video below to remember the “good old days”, it has been recorded in the 80’s when R/O’s were still at their place


The port of Ancona

The port of Ancona is the first Italian port for international vehicles and passenger traffic, with more than 1.5 million passengers and 200,000 trucks each year, and one of the Adriatic for goods; for the fisheries, the Ancona fish markets is at second place in the Adriatic and at the sixth place nationally. For gross tons, the fishing port of Ancona, with TSL 4566, is in third place in Italy.
The Dorians, who in 387 BC founded the city of Ancona, they stopped in this place for the possibility that the natural harbor offered. The coast in fact forms an elbow, hence the name Ancona (Ankon, in Greek language elbow), which provides a natural shelter from the sea. But already in the third century BC the bay was used by the Piceni for sea trade with the Greeks.
In Roman times the port was greatly expanded, especially by the Emperor Trajan; in honor of the senate and the Roman people they had built in the port area a triumphal arch.
The Saracens during their looting the city occurred in the ninth century destroyed the harbor. From the XI century in the period of the free and the Maritime Republics it was rebuilt and fortified considerably.
Between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries Ancona and Ragusa, allied to each other, they were among the most important ports of the Adriatic, second only to Venice. In later centuries, the discovery of America and switching traffic from the Mediterranean, the port underwent a drastic decline until Clement XII granted the free port and financed the construction of the hospital.
With the arrival of the two world wars Ancona and the port area were seriously damaged by bombing. In the following was decided the reconstruction.
Today the port has achieved first place in Italy for the number of loaded cars and the number of passengers (especially for those who use the ferries between Italy and Eastern European countries); for goods in container it is in the top six of the Adriatic, including non-Italian and for Fisheries is one of the first ports of Italy.

Since more than a century Ancona is the see of one of the major Italian Nautical College.




SEVASTOPOL RADIO – morse code from Black Sea


Dear Sparks,

on this website, several times, has been spoken about military and commercial coast radio stations have still morse code in use. Today I have recorded a piece of WX broadcasted by Russian coast radio “SEVASTOPOL RADIO” c/s RCV, it is in russian language and according to the idiom I can understand the message seems to contain WX for Eastern Mediterranean sea (area of Middle-East).

Below the audio file.





Night of Nights 2016 Coming up 12 July!

Night of nights 2016 will be held as usual on 12 July, the date the last commercial Morse message was supposedly sent.  KPH, KFS and KSM will be on the air.  You’re invited to participate in person or on the air.

Basic Event Enformation:


Date: 12 July 2016 Pacific Daylight Time

First Transmission form MRHS Stations: 5:01pm Pacific Daylight Time 12 July, 0001Z 13 July 2016
Full details below:
Best regards.

Italian school for ship’s commercial radio operators

Dear Sparks,

I would like to propose you a clip about one of the few Italian schools for ship’s commercial radio operators, this one was located in the town of Grado in NE Italy not far from Trieste. In Italy Radiotelegraph schools had a own radio  station with regular c/s, Grado was IQV.

Enjoy the clip: