Potomac Valley Radio Club (PVRC) and the US Naval Academy Radio Club to operate NSS special event May 13

Photo: US Coast Guard

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Brian D. Smith, who writes:

Longtime SWLs will recall the repeating CW messages of Coast Guard station NSS and its distinctive “DAH-dit di-di-dit di-di-dit” ID.

There’s even a nostalgia page created in its honor: http://hawkins.pair.com/nss.shtml – along with a Wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSS_Annapolis – and an online history: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/greenbury-point.htm – among other online references.

Unfortunately, like most other such CW stations of its day, NSS is gone forever … right? Wrong! Get this: NSS will return from the dead during Armed Forces Day crossband tests on May 13!

Here’s what the ARRL is reporting:

“The Potomac Valley Radio Club (PVRC) and the US Naval Academy Radio Club will operate NSS on the site of the 1918 Naval Radio Transmitting Station on Greenbury Point in Annapolis, Maryland, across the Severn River from the US Naval Academy.”

How cool is that?

So both hams and SWLs can obtain a QSL card from this ghost of a station. Personally, I’m thrilled with the news, because I was never able to get a QSL card from NSS or any similar station during my teenage years.

As far as I know, this is the first time NSS has been heard since … what, 1999? It certainly wasn’t on the air during last year’s Armed Forces Day radio event.

Wow–thank you for the tip, Brian! I, too, would love to snag an NSS QSL card!

Spread the radio love

9 thoughts on “Potomac Valley Radio Club (PVRC) and the US Naval Academy Radio Club to operate NSS special event May 13

  1. anon

    I have it on good authority that the cards for the 100th NSS anniversary AFD operation in 2018 will be NSS station specific and that times and frequencies will be on the cards. Standby for more info . . .

  2. Harald Kuhl

    Now, in November 2017, I received a “Thank you for participating in the 68th Military-Amateur Crossband Test on 13 Max 2017” card by postal mail. On its back all MARS stations that participted are mentioned. The stations I contacted are marked. No further details on the card such as frequencies or modes. So, though not a real QSL, still an answer. tnx!

  3. Harald Kuhl

    Concerning NSS QSLs I found this in their May 2017 newsletter:

    “NSS will operate both CW and SSB on the following frequencies: 4,038.5 7,533.5 14,487 17,545 20,994 kHz. QSL cards will be sent for all QSOs with NSS and the other participating military stations.”

    Source: http://www.pvrc.org/Newsletters/2017_05.pdf


    1. Brian, W9IND

      As it turns out, NSS will QSL not only for amateur radio QSOs but reception reports as well. Just got the following news from Frank, W3LPL:

      “Any SWLs who need an NSS QSL should email their reception report and their postal address to: [email protected]

  4. Ed McCorry

    Thomas, thanks for the tip. I try to listen in each year which brings up a question. In past years they have listed the address to send a report for each station but I haven’t seen any address’s this year except for the address to send the reception of the coded message copy. I have looked at the MARS website and they list everything except the address’s. Did old age kick in and I missed something?

    73, Ed

    1. Harald Kuhl

      Concerning QSLs for this Annual Armed Forces Day Crossband Test I suspect they do not send them out any longer – at least not for SWL reports. Last year despite very bad propagation conditions I manged to receive some MARS stations participating. I sent out SWL reports to them by snail mail but received no answer at all. If they do not QSL they do not need to publish addresses, which saves us some money 🙂

      Maybe MARS stations participating in this crossband test send QSLs for amateur radio contacts via the ARRL QSL bureau, I do not know.


    2. Brian, W9IND

      Good news! I’ve just received word from Frank, W3LPL, that NSS will QSL for reception reports.

      In his words: “Any SWLs who need an NSS QSL should email their reception report and their postal address to: [email protected]

      Happy QSLing!

  5. Brian, W9IND

    I’m going to update myself on this one: It turns out that NSS hasn’t been heard on HF in about 40 years!

    Emails from the PVRC (thanks to Frank, W3LPL) explain it this way:
    “1974 was the last year that NSS was active on Armed Forces Day. After 1974 they used NAM. Daily NSS military HF comms continued for a few more years but [it] was definitely QRT prior to 1978. Although LF and VLF operations continued into the 1990s, all LF and VLF comms were encrypted and the NSS callsign was no longer used.”

    So this is really a case of a venerable utility station returning from the grave!

    Frank adds: “We’ll be active from 1300Z-0200Z [Saturday, May 13] on both CW and SSB with at least three transmitters operating continuously … at the former location of the Married Enlisted Quarters.”

    Here are the announced frequencies for NSS in kHz (modes: CW and USB): 4038.5, 7533.5, 14487, 17545 and 20994. For a full list of participating stations and frequencies, follow this link: http://www.usarmymars.org/home/announcements

    If that’s not enough NSS, here’s a fascinating video about its history: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWuJ6DB9drw

    And here’s a photo of the 10-kilowatt TMC GPT-10K HF transmitters that operated at NSS Annapolis during the 1960s and 1970s:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.