Radio Broadcasting from Ships – The Pacific

This article was originally material for a broadcast of “Wavescan” via Adventist World Radio and now forms part of the Radio Heritage Collection ©. All rights reserved to Ragusa Media Group, PO Box 14339, Wellington, New Zealand. This material is licenced on a non-exclusive basis to South Pacific DX Resource hosted on radiodx.com for a period of five years from April 1 2001. Author: Adrian Peterson

In this episode on the annals of radio broadcasting from ships, we take a look at the scene in the South Pacific again, in the waters surrounding Australia. We turn the clock back to the year 1926 and we observe that the European vessel, Carinthia, is steaming through the waters of the Southern Ocean below Australia.

The mediumwave station 5CL in Adelaide was at the time on the air as a commercial facility, though these days the station is owned by the government ABC network under the callsign 5RN. A small radio transmitter was placed on board the Carinthia which was described as the “millionaire liner”. A special program was relayed back to 5CL while the ship was steaming east towards Melbourne. A listener in Perth heard this special relay and reported the item in the Melbourne based radio weekly, “Listener In”.

In the following year, another similar outside broadcast was made from another ship at another location, this time the “Akuna” (AH-KOON-a) in the waters of Port Philip Bay, Melbourne. The mediumwave station 3LO was also a commercial facility at the time, though today this station is also owned by the government ABC network, but still under its original callsign 3LO.

The occasion for this special broadcast was a visit from a member of the royal family in England. A small shortwave transmitter was installed temporarily on the “Akuna” for this relay broadcast from ship to shore.

Placing a portable radio transmitter on board a ship for the purpose of making a special relay was a popular procedure during the earlier era of radio broadcasting. In 1932, station 2UW in Sydney took a special relay from the Dutch passenger liner, “Nieuw Holland”, as it was leaving Sydney Harbour.

This event occured on Sunday October 23, 1932 which was designated as “Hospital Day”. A small portable transmitter relayed the programming which was heard by a Sydney DXer in the 42 metre band. He described the reception level of the signal at his location as excellent.

Back in November 1941, the American ship, “Lurline” made a visit to Australia. The ship was noted at both edges of the continent on 8820 kHz when it was in contact with the maritime station KRO in Hawaii. As was the custom of the day, this ship was licensed with a callsign, KIEK, that could also be used for the relay of broadcast programming.

It would appear that radio broadcasts were made from transmitter KIEK which were also heard in Australia and reception reports were sent to their address in San Franciso. Five years later in 1946, QSLs were received in Australia, stating that the special transmitter had since been removed.

In the year 1947, the Royal Mail Steamer “Orion” visited Australia and it was noted on the air while in contact with the maritime station VIM in Melbourne. DXers of the day state that this ship, with the callsign GYLK, also made its own special broadcasts as it was leaving the continent though no QSLs were ever issued. However, I did hear GYLK on the “Orion” while it was in contact with VIM and the QSL card from VIM verifies the two way conversation which was logged on 2100 kHz


Radio Broadcasting from Ships – Australian Waters

Time Lines
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Year Ship Country Location Broadcasts
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1926 Carinthia SA waters 5CL relay heard in WA
1927 Akuna Australia Vic waters Royal visit 3LO relay
1932 Nieuw Holland Holland Sydney Special relay 2UW
1941 Lurline USA Southern QSLs 5 years later
1947 Orion England Southern Unofficial broadcasts
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Radio Broadcasting from Ships – Australian Waters

References
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Ship Reference
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Akuna 3LO transmitter for royal visit to Australia; Note Book 79.217B 36
Carinthia Relay from 5CL in SA waters heard in WA; LI 79.23 20-2-26 1
Lurline KIEK 8820 contact KRO Honolulu heard WA; R&H 79.11 X 41-53
QSLs 1941 broadcasts transmitter removed; R&H 79.13 1-47 69
Nieuw Holland Special transmitter relay 42 m 2UW ; LI 79.23 12-11-32 55
Orion GYLK Southern Ocean; R&H 79.13 6-47 69
VIM QSL card
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