W6RO Aboard the Queen Mary

by Norm Chalfin, K6PGX



In Long Beach Harbor aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary, W6RO, the club station of the Associated Radio Amateurs of Long Beach, is in operation and open to the Queen Mary tour visitors as part of the tour.

At an opening ceremony on April 22nd 1979 there were nearly 600 guests who toured the Queen Mary exhibits and then were treated to "refreshments," There were so many in the area of the radio room that one couldn't push an elbow in even if it was akimbo.

It is now 12 years (Dec 9,1967-April 22, 1979 except for operation on the move Feb. 21, 1971) since the Queen Mary's CQ crackled over the airwaves. Now its signals can be heard from an Atlas 210X Kenwood TS-820S, Swan 100 MX, or Yaesu 227RB, radiated from a Cushcraft ATB-34 or Ringo Ranger ARX-2 or a dipole. An alliance Rotator HD-73 will be likely to be directing some of those signals your way.

The W6RO ham shack is part of a new exhibit on the Queen Mary Tour. It occupies a reconstruction of the Cunard Liner's Wireless Room. What was once the Queen Mary's squash court, several decks above the original location, has been remodeled to house the radio room and ancient radio exhibits. Except for the ham gear, it's authentic. In an area next to the shack there is an exhibit of historic radio equipment donated by amateurs and others.

The shack will be manned by volunteer licensed hams on a regular schedule from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M., local time, every day. Their communications throughout the world can be heard by persons who are on the Queen Mary Tour. If you should visit, you may get a chance to operate from the shack.

One aspect of the W6RO operation is that in an emergency it will be unaffected by a loss of power because the ship's generators can be operated to provide power when needed. It is not expected that the station would be affected by earthquakes, floods, or other land-based catastrophes.

Look for W6RO on all of the popular ham bands, including 2 meters. The club has a very attractive QSL card illustrating the ship and the radio room, and including a listing of Queen Mary facts. Did you know, for example, that GB5QM was the only ham radio station licensed for operation aboard the Queen Mary? This was for its last voyage. W6RO was operated from the ship on 21 February 1971 as it was towed from dockside to its present location

Norm, K6PGX, uses the two-meter gear aboard the Queen Mary.

The ATB-34 Tri-bander beam is about l60 feet above the water's surface, atop one of the ship's funnels. Above the beam is the 2 m Ringo Ranger.

While we were there, a few days after the dedication, several movie and TV companies were preparing to film sequences aboard the Queen. We were told by a tour guide that "The Poseidon Adventure" had many sequences filmed there.

Volunteers are being sought for operation of W6RO. For information contact Nate Brightman, K60SC, at (213) 427-5123. This could be an opportunity for ham landlubbers to become arm chair seagoing radio ops. With all of the air conditioning and generating equipment running, you will feel as if the ship is at sea, however becalmed you know it to be.

Nate Brightman, by the way, is the special projects chairman of the Associated Radio Amateurs of Long Beach. He was one of the operators for the 1971 trip from dockside to the present location. With him were Al Lee, W6KQI, and Nate's son Howard, K6OSD.

Nate worked for 12 years to get the Queen Mary radio room set up as a ham shack. His first proposal to the Long Beach city fathers was in l970. In 1974 it was updated and presented to the operators of the Queen Mary Museum. Work was begun to reconstruct the radio room in July, 1978. Now that it is going, we were told that Nate is in the shack operating W6RO at 8:00 A.M. until time to go to work.

Note: An old posting from Norm Chalfin K6PGX found by John Rogers KF6TTR!

Also, added by John Rogers KF6TTR info about the Promenade Transmitter Room. If you go to the starboard side Ladies restroom, and look up at the glass windows, you will see modes of communications etched in the glass panes!

The receiver room is now the Queens Shell Castle. If you go inside and look up at the glass panes, you will see modes of communications etched in the glass panes!