Navy-Marine Corps MARS in Vietnam

Home Up

USS Providence CLG-6

USS PROVIDENCE Phone Patch Activity from South Pacific NOV '68- JAN '69

 At CAPT Hollyfield's direction, before we left Yokosuka for the trip home to San Diego in NOV 1968, I set up the ham radio station on PROVIDENCE with a young, third class radioman (whose name I can't remember). There was one older, low power rig on board, so we bought a new Yaesu transceiver with rec fund money at Akibuhara (radio district) in Tokyo, and installed the unit in the old WW II radio room at the base of the forward stack, using wire antennas that were still rigged. We operated under the radioman's ham call, and mine (then WA2NFJ).

We ran that sucker night and day to provide phone patches for the guys on the trip home to CONUS, much to everyone's pleasure-- except CINCPACFLT command. Someone mentioned in a phone patch conversation that we were "1500 miles southwest of Hawaii," and CINCPACFLT sent a message to shut us down for revealing the ship's position during wartime!!  We changed callsigns and continued the phone patches anyway, making sure no one said anything about ship's position, but a day or two later we were off the air, because the glass envelopes of the Yaesu's amplifier tubes got so hot from the constant use they melted and the tubes imploded! (They were a TV-type amplifier tube used in older TV sets back then). 

I don't remember the total number of phone patches we ran, but it was impressive, and something of a record. We used to patch through two major ham phone patch stations in CONUS. One near Seattle, and Barry Goldwater's station (K7UGA) in Phoenix, because they had good signals and WATS lines which covered the cost of the long distance calls from those stations to the sailors' homes in the states.  This was a good deal for us because virtually no collect calls had to be made, as is usual in ham phone patches. (I don't know if they do MARS or military phone patches anymore, such as from Iraq. I know I've made donations for phone time for the GIs in Iraq, but haven't heard of MARS or phone patches from there.) 

Larry Serra N6NC (ex-WA2NFJ), former Ass't Navigator and 2d DIV. officer, USS PROVIDENCE (CLG-6) (1968-69)

      Back to Top