On the weekend of July 21st, 2001 the Red Oak Victory Amateur Radio Club (ROVARC) participated in a 48-hour, international amateur radio special event called Museum Ships on the Air. The event was sponsored by the USS Salem Amateur Radio Club of Quincy, MA and saw participation from as many as 70 other "museum" ships in the U.S. and abroad.
The purpose of an amateur radio special event is to give exposure to, or commemorate someone or something historical that is tied to the location of a specific amateur radio club. For example, the Southern Vermont Amateur Radio Club is having a special event on August 17th to celebrate the American victory at the Battle of Bennington in 1777. The scope of the Museum Ships Special Event is obviously more broad both in the extent of the geography that is covered (world-wide) and the nature of the museum ships involved (everything from a railcar/passenger ferry on Lake Michegan to a World War II battleship in Pearl Harbor).
With well over 400 contacts, covering 43 states and 6 foreign countries, we had an opportunity to talk to many people about the Red Oak Victory during this event. The enthusiasm for museum ships among the amateur radio community was well evidenced by the number of contacts we made. And without exception, the people we spoke to showed a genuine interest in the history of our ship. Many had stories of their own to relate about working in the ship yards or sailing aboard a Victory ship during the War.
In addition to our long-distance contacts we were able to talk to dozens of hams in the Bay Area. All were encouraged to come take a tour of the Red Oak, and to bring their children and grandchildren. Several we spoke with came by that very weekend, and we expect to see more in the coming days. We may, perhaps, realize a few new members for our amateur radio club.
All in all it was a rewarding experience for the ROVARC members who were able to participate and the many people around the country and the world who were able to contact us on the air. And ultimately it has provided some exposure to the ongoing work being done to restore the Red Oak Victory and create a fine museum for people of all ages to enjoy. We look forward to participating in this annual event again next year.