Radio room M/V Atlantic Star

Dear Sparks,

on youtube a nice clip recorded in 1992 onboard LPG Carrier Atlantic Star c/s  9HCY3, MF and HF were still close to the INMARSAT station and not the last the polish R/O:

youtube channel: Jerzy Szatkowski




argentina sub

Lost sub in Argentina

Article by journalist OM Marcin Marciniak – SP5XMI

The lost submarine near Argentina

We have heard many times that there is a need for two security circuits that operate on different principles. After the transition period the satellite communication took over all emergency channels except for short range that still works using VHF and to some extent also medium range using HF. We have heard about distress signal problems during the transition era but digital systems won the race by automation. The R/Os era is unfortunately gone. Let’s ask a question – is there anything left? Are there coast stations that still keep watch on HF? Does the crew know how to use the HF equipment in the satellite telephone era? Do they know and exercise CW communication? I think they don’t. The Russian Navy is one of the exceptions, maybe the US Navy could be another one. Incidents just happen and the satellite communication CAN break. And sometimes it breaks. Maybe the military vessels still have communication officer on board but do they have procedures?

The lost submarine

On 17th of November 2017 it was announced that Argentina’s TR-1700 class submarine ARA San Juan had not been heard from since 15th of November. A SAR operation was launched to search the area about 200 nm southeast of San Jorge Gulf but to no avail. A few hours ago AP press feed informed that Argentina’s Defence Ministry said there were seven failed satellite calls that were believed to come from a missing submarine. The calls could be a sign the 44-strong crew of the ARA San Juan was trying to re-establish contact. The calls lasted between four and 36 seconds in the late morning and early afternoon on Saturday (local time), the ministry said in an emailed statement. The satellite communications were believed to have failed because of foul weather, a source in the defence ministry who was not authorised to speak publicly told Reuters.

(information here:

We had this before

Maybe this sea accident has something similar to m/v Prinsendam/PJTA emergency contacts via MF/HF where the satellite communication devices weren’t working due to heavy list.

Is there any way to communicate? I think there is but will they use it? The MF CW is already gone, nobody keeps watch so the oldest means is not available anymore. The HF is crippled as well. There are not so many coast stations on HF. Not all vessels have the HF gear ready, most stations just rely on satellites. The ship-ship rescue HF communication is crippled. Do they keep watch on 2182? The HF receivers have relatively poor performance and the DSC signal is nowhere near CW as far as energy efficiency is concerned. Right now radio amateurs have better receivers than almost all of the merchant navy vessels. The GMDSS radio receivers are on par with main receivers from 80s era set to medium bandwidth. Some former R/Os say the 90s gear was better due to good filtering and noise blankers. Right now the entry level amateur transceiver FT450D has better receiver than the gear that is intended to save life.

Will the amateurs help?

The radio amateurs issued an appeal for keeping watch on emergency frequencies including popular MF frequencies (416 kHz, 437 kHz, 500kHz) even if WE know that the sub doesn’t have the MF gear anymore (it was dismantled during the mid-life update in 2008). Anyway the sub still has HF radio with automatic antenna tuning. The well-known HF frequencies were listed as well – 2065kHz, 2182 kHz, 3023kHz, and 3860.6kHz, 4125kHz, 4143.6kHz, 6218.6kHz, 8528kHz too. The appeal was issued in Europe too, even if we know that receiving weak signal from South Atlantic near Argentina is not easy on such frequencies. The best way should be 10MHz by the grayline but the sub does not need to contact Europe. They need reliable medium range communication (up to 1000 miles) when the old frequencies should work better. Even in foul weather. Old-fashioned HF radio just works even if it’s not as fancy as space age technology with satellites.
Maybe it’s time to reinstitute the lifeboat’s HF radios and build a network of digital automatic coast stations connected by common high-speed fiberoptics? The simple lifeboat radio (RS-101, old Polish unit, pictured) was quite effective on 6 and 8MHz bands with long antenna deployed, some R/Os had QSOs over 500km during the day – all using technology from the 70s. Right now 20W on HF into a vertical with proper digital mode works very well for the amateurs. Maybe their experience can be used in professional communication to save life. To communicate at sea without satellites at all. Because satellites can break. And in the future they will.

janek kupski i radiostacja szalupowa

On pictures – Jan Kupski with the RS-101 lifeboat radio,

73’s  Marcin Marciniak SP5XMI


US warship collides with Japanese tug in latest incident

BBC News – 8 hours ago

A US warship has sustained minor damage after a collision with a Japanese tug off central Japan, the US Navy says.

The commercial tug lost propulsion and drifted into the guided-missile destroyer, the USS Benfold, during a towing exercise in Sagami Bay.

“No one was injured on either vessel,” the US Navy says, adding that an investigation is under way.

This is the latest in a series of incidents involving US warships in recent months.

In a statement, the US Navy says the warship “sustained minimal damage, including scrapes on its side”.

“Benfold remains at sea under her own power. The Japanese commercial tug is being towed by another vessel to a port in Yokosuka.”

In August, 10 US sailors were killed when the USS John S McCain collided with an oil tanker east of Singapore.

In June, seven US sailors died in a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship in Japanese waters near the port city of Yokosuka.

In May, a guided-missile cruiser collided with a South Korean fishing vessel, while in January another cruiser ran aground near the fleet base in Yokosuka.

The US has recently announced a series of reforms aimed at increasing naval skills and alertness at sea.




US Naval Weather Service: Story of a Storm 1972 US Navy

Dear Sparks,

from youtube channel: Jeff Quitney repropose a very interesting videos about old systems used to supply WX to Mariners:

Burl Ives narrates a film describing how the Navy Weather Service helps Navy and cargo ships to avoid adverse weather conditions. The Navy’s Weather Central. Includes classic fax machine, satellite and radar footage, and a row of Control Data Model 607 Magnetic Tape Drives.

US Navy film MN-11138




Abandoned maritime coast station in the arctic area

Article by OM Marcin MARCINIAK – SP5XMI

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As many of us know, coast stations were spread all over the world, including very remote areas. One of them was Uyedinenya Island/UCV. The station was built during the Cold War period especially for polar weather observation and signal intelligence. It was built with standard Russian setup then upgraded to main maritime shortwave transmitter KORVET („КОРВЕТ” – a corvette) with medium wave transmitter Musson-2 („МУССОН-2” – a monsoon) and two Shtorm (Шторм – a storm) receivers.

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There was also older Yorsh-R (Ёрш-Р – a ruffe) CW transmitter with famous R-250M receiver, probably used for signal intelligence rather than for general receiving. The station used also a Tembr ( Тембр – timbre) tape deck. The receivers and transmitter remote control panels were built into standard 4U console, quite popular on the other side of the pond as well. And the maritime radio clock of course was there.

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UCV wasn’t a busy station but it used to send some important messages regarding weather observations and could relay messages from vessels. As far as I was told, the station had its own traffic list during the busiest days.
In November 1996 the supply of fuel for the station’s diesels almost ran out and the operators sent a lot of telegrams asking for resupply. On 26th of November 1996 all the people were evacuated by a helicopter with only small personal luggage. Nobody lives there, the station is abandoned. All the equipment remained on site. It is probably damaged but some amateurs think it’s possible to repair it. The island is closed as a natural reserve, only automated weather station powered from nuclear thermal generator sends digital information via a satellite. The callsign UCV is used at Okhotsk station UCV-2 that broadcasts Navtex info on 518kcs in NAVAREA XIII.

The Russian radio amateurs organized great expedition to remote and abandoned arctic islands in 2001. The movie can be seen here:
– the UCV part starts from 29:27. I think the whole movie is worth watching. Have a free hour to watch it. Movie is in English with subtitles when Russian language is spoken.
And as a bonus – there is one QSO with aircraft mobile station and one with one very famous ham from VK. Watch the movie to hear it.

The pictures are taken from the movie.





In the occasion of Marconian Events the INORC (Italian Naval Old Rythmers Club) recalls the Atlantic cruise made by Italian Royal Cruiser “CARLO ALBERTO”   from October up to December 1902. On board, Guglielmo Marconi out of Azores Islands made experiments of transmission and reception on Morse code and Voice. The Cruiser “CARLO ALBERTO” was built in the Royal shipyard of La Spezia and entered service on 1 May 1898 until 1921. Displacment 6832 Tons, LOA 105.7 meters and large 18 meters, Draft 7.5 meters, STEAM PROPULSION fitted with 8 Boilers. Two propellers, Maximum speed 19.5 knots, crew 486 men. The “CARLO ALBERTO” was the first Italian war ship on which were installed, under supervision of Guglielmo Marconi, the Wireless System with  “DETECTOR SYSTEM” invented by the same Marconi.

Detector magnetico del tipo utilizzato sulla Carlo Alberto nel 1902

detector used on board Cruiser “CARLO ALBERTO”

“CARLO ALBERTO”, made many dimostrative cruises toward BRAZIL URUGUAY AND COLOMBIA. Two were the most celebrated , the first one in ENGLAND, on 10 July 1902, for the Coronation  of King EDOARDO VII and the other one in the Gulf of Finland (SAINT PETERSBURG) on 12 July 1902, where from the Island of KRONSTADT, with the presence of Italian King Vittorio Emanuele III, Guglielmo Marconi Meets the Zar Nicolay II showing him the capability of the radio to make radiotelegraphic connections over far distances entering in contact with Poldhu on a distance of 2,600 Kilometers.


reception of messages in the Gulf of Finland on board “CARLO ALBERTO”

The speciall callsign used during the Event will be IQ1NM/CA

from 12 up to 24 November




soviet trawlers

The Russian Trawlers

Dear Sparks,

many of us know that Russia trough the history of past century, when we called her Soviet Union, owned the large fishing fleet of the planet employed in all seas of the world in all seasons, many of these trawlers passed to the history as spies ships due to the large antenna systems observed but until the end of Cold War no images came us of russian ship’s radio rooms and many of us, during our past at sea, had not chance to stay on board a russian vessel visiting the radio station; nowadays thanks to internet we can catch some videos and pictures of these unknown ships and their radio stations. Surifing the web I found the following youtube clips recorded, I suppose for promotional duty, the fishing vessel owned to “Fedor Krainov” Class, was one of the largest one, ship was built in 1967 and remained in service since 1998, during the video are showed various aspect of life on board including some minutes in the radio room where the glory of USSR R/O’s is well represented by the very fast operator you can see, if some russian friends have more informations about these ships they are very welcome and shared on this website. In the clip the radio room it is showed starting from minute 4:31 but I suggest you to watch the entire clip, it is a very rare piece of history: