Tag Archives: Emergency Communications

20 Years Ago: The 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race disaster – recording of the race controller frequency

In response to our recent items about monitoring the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, SWLing Post contributor, Neil Howard, shares the following:

In 1998 this race was decimated by massive seas and storms, which sunk 5 boats and tragically lives were lost.

I happened to be recording frequency of the Race controller.

After almost losing the recording , I posted it to YouTube back in 2011:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Description of recording:

HOW this was obtained

This recording of the HF transmissions from 1998 was recorded by me from Queensland, using a newfangled unattended recoding program on the PC and a very ordinary Sangean ATS-803a receiver using a random long wire Antenna – from memory this was on the 8 Mhz Marine band, and is the co-ordination of the search and rescue from the 28th Dec 1998 and covers from around 8:30PM till 10PM – The automated recorded stopped recording when the signal noise dropped below a certain level and thus some was lost.

The recording goes for 30 mins, as that was the limit that was set to save disk space, but there is a lot of empty noise.

I have had this on a disk for 13 years now ( WOW!) and I had a serious disk crash, recently and almost lost everything….. I place this here on youtube so it is not lost to prosperity – The race is on again right now, so This was good timing! I present this recording as it was recorded, warts and all for your education *** I dedicate this to those lost at sea

Highlights — (Times are approximate)

  • 4:11 “Rescue 253” 9A helicopter) locates a life-raft
  • 6:00 “Air force Sydney” is looking for a position of a yacht ” Solo Global Challenge”
  • 6:50 “RTC Canberra” (Who is co-ordinating) has a “hot mic” and is explaining the situation to someone locally
  • 8:35 “Rescue 253” has sighted 2 POB on the life-raft – RTC wants to know if they are from “Winston Churchill”
  • 9:39 Another “hot mic” in Canberra
  • 11:56 “Tiger75” (A Navy Helicopter, I think) has the survivors on board, but still awaiting info on who they are
  • 13:0413:44 confirmation that there are 2 survivors of the “Winston Churchill” from the life raft, but the tragic news that 3 others had “rolled out” of the raft and are lost (Historical note- these three were listed as drowned)
  • 14:46 Discussion about where the survivors are to be taken by Tiger 75
  • 15:20 Info of the survivors is passed though, along with the news that the life raft they were “in” had no bottom.
  • 16:33 Rescue 253 Says it has heard a beacon & is proceeding to the location
  • 20:00 Another aircraft has gone to the search site from Merimbula (A town in New South Wales)
  • 25:38 Rescue 253 updates beacon location
  • 26:30 Rescue 253 Locates a boat at the beacon site that has been dis-masted & is in serious trouble.

It is interesting (and harrowing) listening.

They still use HF , but after the 1998 debacle, when they found they had little idea of actual positions for S&R, they introduced regular scheds.

Wow–what an amazing and sobering recording, Neil.  Thank you for sharing and giving us an opportunity to remember those who lost their lives.

Note that there’s a documentary about the 1998 Sydney to Hobart yacht race on YouTube. Click here to watch Part 1 and here to watch Part 2.

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Terry remembers monitoring an eventful Sydney to Hobart yacht race

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Terry Cominos, who shred the following story following our recent post about the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. Terry writes:

Here is my story…

It must have been 20 plus years ago whilst monitoring the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on my AOR AR3000.

Around midnight the yacht “Mem” announced a man was lost overboard. They were turning back to find him. The Captain of the oil tanker “Ampol Serel” on his way to Sydney declared he was turning back to assist in the search.

It was a long night with several yachts searching and the “Young Endeavour” providing radio relay support.

More than an hour passed before the “Ampol Serel” arrived on the scene with its powerful search light.

The search was hampered by a swell yet before first light “Ampol Serel” picked up a reflected flash off a life vest.

The sailor was eventually found by a competing yacht and taken on board where he was examined and treated for hypothermia by a doctor onboard.

Several years later I visited the Australian Maritime Museum where the life vest is on display.

That morning I learned a lot about the sea, radio and human nature…

Thank you for sharing this, Terry, and reminding us  that those of us who monitor radio sometimes have a front row seat to events as they unfold.

Source: OneTubeRadio.com

I recall this 1957 Hallicrafter ad from Boy’s Life magazine which of course implies that we may even be in a position to help.

The thought of hearing or assisting–remote as it may have been–certainly had an influence on me when I first started exploring the shortwave bands from my bedroom with a Zenith Transoceanic some forty years ago.

Thanks again for sharing, Terry.

Post readers: Have you ever been witness to events as they unfolded on the air?  Please share your story!


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NBC: “Hawaii’s communication breakdown and how going ham could save us”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Curtis, who shares the following video from NBC Left Field:

Hawaii’s recent false nuclear missile alert showed us how reliant we are on cell phones and modern technology—and how unprepared we are if they become inaccessible. But in case the unexpected happens, an unlikely group of hobbyists—ham radio operators—are standing at the ready and may save us all.

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Salvation Army requesting hams to help in Caribbean post hurricane

(Source: Salvation Army Team Radio Network via Eric WD8RIF and ARRL)

Greetings:

The Salvation Army’s Eastern Territory has asked SATERN to begin recruiting amateur radio operators from our Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) for potential deployments to the Puerto Rico & Virgin Islands Division.

THIS IS A RECRUITMENT REQUEST TO BE ON STANDBY ONLY!

This will not be an easy deployment so operators interested in deploying on behalf of The Salvation Army should carefully read and ensure that they can meet the conditions and requirements in the attached document(s):

Qualifications:

  1. Candidates must be capable of doing the work and meeting the qualifications contained in the attached Position Description for a Communications Specialist. The only exception to this is the requirement for Medic First Aid Training. That or similar training is a plus but not mandatory.(See attached file: SATERN-Communications_Specialist-Official.pdf)
  2. Additionally, candidates must be capable of meeting the qualifications and experience and equipment requirements contained in the attached document below.(See attached file: HurricaneMaria-SATERN_Deployment_Requirements.pdf )
  3. Candidates should pay close attention to the information in both documents. This will be an especially challenging deployment physically, emotionally, spiritually and technically. Do NOT sign up if you are not prepared for this.
  4. Candidates MUST fully complete a volunteer profile in the National Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) Volunteer Database. Instructions for creating a profile in the database are contained below my signature block.

Logistical Issues:

  1. DEPLOYMENT LOCATION: Puerto Rico or one of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  2. DEPLOYMENT DATE(S): Not known at this time but could be as early as next week.
  3. DEPLOYMENT LENGTH: Operators should plan on a minimum two week (14 day) deployment. Be aware that travel to and from these areas is difficult and there are no guarantees of it being exactly two weeks.
  4. LODGING: Lodging will very likely be basic shelter style lodging in a church, gym, warehouse or similar rough arrangement. Be well prepared for hardship conditions. You will need to bring your own sleeping bag, cot (if you have one), etc. However, there is a possibility that there will be availability on the USS Kennedy, USS Wright or other ships.
  5. MEALS: Meals will likely be provided by The Salvation Army at whatever Incident Command Post (ICP) you are assigned to. It will likely be very basic meals served from one of our canteens (mobile kitchens).
  6. EXPENSE: The following essential expenses will be reimbursed:
    1. Travel expenses.
    2. Other expenses pre-authorized by officials of the Incident Management Team (IMT) at the site you are deployed to.
    3. Bring CASH – about $500 is recommended. Remember that all power, phone and internet are disrupted so it is highly unlikely you will be able use a credit card. Cash is KING on a deployment.
    4. EQUIPMENT:
      1. You will need to bring your own radio equipment as outlined in the attached document(s) above. It needs to be in good condition and capable of operating under conditions similar to, or more strenuous than, the worst Field Day imaginable.
      2. The Salvation Army will not reimburse repairs or replacement for your equipment. That responsibility belongs to the deployed operator and it is highly recommended that you make sure that your equipment is fully insured.

    Becoming A Candidate:

    Anyone who meets the above qualifications and desires to be deployed should do the following:

    1. Complete the volunteer registration. This includes completing the online course, Introduction to Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services.
    2. Complete the form shown here.(See attached file: HurricaneMaria-SATERN_Deployment_Survey.pdf PDF Kb )
    3. Inform the following people by email of your interest in being on standby for a possible deployment AFTER completing number 1 and number 2 above.
      1. You must email your notification along with the COMPLETED form in number 2 above to the National SATERN Liaison (see (i) below and to your Territorial SATERN Coordinator who is one of the four people listed in (ii) below:
        1. The National SATERN Liaison: Bill(dot)Feist(at)USS(dot)SalvationArmy(dot)org
        2. The Territorial SATERN Coordinator for the state you live in (see below):Central Territory (IA, IN, IL, KS, MI, MN, MO, ND, SD, NE, WI):
          Bill Shillington (W9ZCL): SAOpsChief(at)aol(dot)com 

          Eastern Territory (CT, DE, MA, ME. NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, PR, RI, USVI, VT)
          Maj. Tom Dingman (K2QMU): Tom(at)K2QMU(dot)net 

          Southern Territory (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC, OK. SC, TN, TX, VA, WV)
          Bill Feist (WB8BZH): Bill(dot)Feist(at)USS(dot)SalvationArmy(dot)org 

          Western Territory (AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY)
          Bill Feist (WB8BZH): Bill(dot)Feist(at)USS(dot)SalvationArmy(dot)org 

Please do not call the National SATERN Liaison on his cell phone. Send any questions you have by email.

Deadline: I need to know as soon as possible but certainly no later than the end of Sunday, 01 October 2017.

Thank you for giving this serious consideration. I look forward to hearing from you by no later than Sunday, 01 October 2017.

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NPR: Amateur Radio Operators Stepped In To Help Communications With Puerto Rico

(Source: NPR via Eric, WD8RIF)

Volunteer HAM operators have set up informal radio networks to connect family and friends with their loved ones in Puerto Rico. NPR’s Kelly McEvers talks to one of those volunteers, Greg Dober.

Click here to listen via NPR.

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