When we moved to Phoenix, AZ in 1977 I met lots of nice ham operators. One of them operated a local Ham Radio shop and I got to know him well. His call was/is K7CI. Joe was an ex Coast Guard morse operator. He was stationed on a ship in the North Atlantic ocean in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s to copy aircraft CW signals as they made their way from EU to America or vice versa. These ships stayed on station for long periods and one of their missions was to rescue aircraft survivors should an accident occur. I am not positive but my gut is telling me that chances of surviving a aircraft ditching in the cold waters in the N. Atlantic were slim to none. However, early aircraft radial piston engines were not all that reliable and so some effort was made to do this task. I forget now what these ships were called but the name picket ship comes to mind. Joe had a speed key license. Having a speed key license was a big deal in those days.
Following his stint in the Coast Guard Joe went off to university and eventually became a Phd in Geology and specifically Geomorphology. (and you thought I was never paying attention!). As happens in stories like this there is a logical ending so stick with me. Joe managed to come to work in Phoenix and eventually opened his radio shop and also do geology. Much later I moved to California and then to Texas while Joe went east and eventually ended up in Pennsylvania via West Virginia. Meanwhile I had renewed our friendship via morse with Joe and he had the patience to help me with my code. I had never really developed my code into a passion at that time-around 1993 or so. In any event, my old friend went about the business of living and we eventually hooked up in Texas while he was on a business trip. This would have been 1995 or early ’96. He came to the house and had a short visit and asked if we had a video tape player. I said we did and we all sat down to watch home movies after supper. Only this home movie was special. I think I still have it around here somewhere. The movie was the closing of the last CW circuit sat by the Coast Guard on 500 Khz and signaled the end of Morse in our Military. I cannot recall the Communications Station (it was NMN – I looked it up) involved nor the exact date, however, my friend Joe K7CI was the Keynote Speaker for this closing. That was quite an honor for an old Coastie. I was thrilled for him. I still am thrilled for him. Joe has had a heart bypass since and says that he can no longer take chances with RF. I hope he rediscovers QRP or some form of radio. 40 Meters hasn’t been the same without your signals. 73 OM.
Text of last transmission follows. It has been edited a little bit.
CQ CQ CQ DE NMN NMN
010001Z APR 95 FM COGARD CAMSLANT CHESAPEAKE VA/NMN TO ALL
USCG NOW CLOSING DOWN CONTINUOUS HF CW WATCH CEASING ALL MORSE CODE OPS IN THE HF BAND. AS WE CONCLUDE OUR WATCH WE WISH YOU FAIR WINDS AND FOLLOW SEAS.
WE ARE PROUD OF OUR TRADITION AND LONG STANDING SERVICE TO THE MARINER ON MORSE CODE BEGINNING IN 1901 WITH THE REVENUE CUTTER SERVICE EXPERIMENTING WITH WIRELESS AS A MEANS TO COMMUNICIATE ON LAND AND SEA TO THE FIRST MORSE CODE RADIO INSTALLED ABOARD CUTTER GRANT IN 1903.
OUR ORIG COMMS MISSION WAS TO RCV DISTRESS ALERTS BUT SINCE 1901 THE CG HAS FAITHFULLY AND DILIGENTLY LISTED FOR TRAFFIC RESPONDING TO HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF CALL FM MARINERS IN NEED OF ASSIT OR RPTG POSITION WX NAV OR SAFETY INFO.
OVER THE YEARS WE HAVE PROVIDED MARINERS WITH URGENT SAFETY AND NAV WARNINGS OVER HF CW AND RCVD VESSEL LOCATION UPDATES FOR THE AMVER SYS.
WE WILL FEEL A SENSE OF LOSS WITH THE PASSING OF CW. THE NEED FOR OPERATORS WITH SENSITIVE EARS AND A FAST PRECISE KEY WILL BE REPLACED BY COMPUTERS MODEMS AND AUTO ALARMS. THE SPECIAL EMOTION AND EXCITEMENT ENJOYED BY CW OPERATORS CANNOT BE DUPLICATED AND THE CHILLING SOS SIGNAL WILL NEVER AGAIN BE RCVD BY A CG UNIT. BUT CW HAS RUN ITS COURSE AND NOW WE LOOK FWD TO SERVING YOU ON THE NEXT GENERATION OF COMM SYSTEMS VIA THE GMDSS. FM ALL CG TELECOMM SPECIALISTS WE BID YOU A 73.
WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT.
SIGNED CG CAMSLANT
DE NMN SK
Thanks for reading my Blog. Best, Chas W7MAP/5