Article by former Radio Officer M.M. (Norway)
Bergen and Rogaland Radio they were both national shortwave radio stations for service to approx. 3000 Norwegian ships (manned by 60.000 men) running between countries all over the world. The ships were built far away, and 95 percent of them never entered a Norwegian port. The sailors had two-year contract before free travel home.
So, first Bergen Radio for many years, and then Rogaland Radio – near Stavanger, a little farther south – were very important links between the ships and their shipping companies – and between the sailors and their families back home.
These stations were intended to serve big ships far out in the world, whereas a number of coastal radio stations served the local fishing fleet without a radio officer on board – mainly using the radio telephone frequencies – 2182 kHz and the band of 3 MHz
Radio officers were trained at a number of Merchant Navy Colleges, in one-year courses with Morse Code, Radio Theory etc. – basically for Certificate 2nd Class. Most ships had only one radio officer, going eight-hour watches and using automatic distress signal apparatus as support.
Radio officers started out with one gold stripe, then earning two stripes after one year. Three stripes were only for leading radio officer on large passenger ships with more than one radio officer and day-and-night watch.
Monthly pay was comparable to mate of same rank. It was possible to save money because room and board was free, of course. One friend of mine borrowed money in the bank and had a house built for him and his coming wife, while he himself sailed for several years – between US West coast and islands in the south Pacific – until the house had been fully paid down.