On the third weekend in July, 2002, the Red Oak Victory Amateur Radio Club, K6YVM, once again took part in the annual Museum Ships Amateur Radio Special Event sponsored by the USS Salem Radio Club of Quincy, Massachusetts. This was the sixth year the event has been run and each year brings a growing number of participating ships. The Red Oak Victory has also increased its efforts each year, steadily climbing the ranks in the competition among the ships to complete the most radio contacts. In the year 2000, our first time in the event, we netted 130 contacts. A year later that number grew to 525. And this year we compiled an impressive total of 1,300 contacts! They represent ham radio operators in 45 different U.S. states, most of the Canadian provinces, and twenty foreign nations on nearly every continent. Included were fifteen of our fellow museum ships from as far west as Pearl Harbor and as far east as Poland. And this year we were instrumental in helping two other Bay Area museum ships join in the event, the USS Potomac and the Lightship Relief, both based in Oakland.
The Museum Ships Event is a 48-hour radio marathon with thousands of ham radio operators, and avid maritime history enthusiasts from all around the world, trying to contact as many of the ships as they can. But the long weekend that we’re on the air represents only a small fraction of the time spent in planning, preparing, and publicizing the event. This year’s efforts began many months ago as extra radio operators were recruited, new antennas were installed, a complete second station was set up in the after ammunition hold, and our equipment was thoroughly tested.
As usual, all who participated aboard the Red Oak were exhausted by the end of this 48-hour marathon but were more than adequately rewarded with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Heartfelt expressions of appreciation were almost universal from the people we spoke with on the radio, many of whom had served aboard these ships in the military or merchant maritime services. Others had worked in the yards where the ships were built. This event helps to keep their memories alive, which is afterall, one of the goals of the Red Oak Victory Museum itself. And while some we talked to have visited the ship before, and many more who live nearby will certainly do so in the future, for others this was their grand opportunity to take a "virtual" tour of the Red Oak Victory from the comfort of their own radio rooms across the country and around the world.
To wrap up this year’s event we’ll participate in the ham radio tradition of sending "QSL" (acknowledgement) cards to everyone we contacted. Full-color cards with a picture of the ship are being printed, mailing labels and envelopes are being prepared, and already nearly 200 letters with return envelopes and postage have been mailed to our radio station trustee from those anxious to receive their commemorative Red Oak Victory QSL card.
Finally, we wish to thank a number of people, without who’s help and
cooperation this event could not take place: - The Richmond Museum
Association for generously allowing us to operate our radio station
on-board the ship. - The Executive Committee of the Red Oak Victory
Museum for authorizing a "quiet" work weekend which helped us hear those
sometimes, weak signals coming through our receivers. - Shipmates Ardie
Smith, Barbara Plymptom, and Rhonda and Ron Servin for providing
Saturday’s hot noon meal. - Bill Smith and Tony Martinez for helping us
load and unload our equipment. - Bob McGill for his tolerance of any
interference our radio signals caused his computer. - And all hands and
visitors who appreciated and encouraged our efforts. We look forward to
an even bigger event next year.