Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Radio Scene on the Island of Goats

            On several previous occasions here in Wavescan, we have presented a series of topics on the progressive development of wireless and radio on the island of Guam in the western Pacific. Currently, Guam is the focus of world attention, due to aggressive threats that have been made against the island by the country of North Korea on the Asian mainland.

            Many months ago, we began this lengthy series of topics on the radio scene on the island of Guam, and our first topic was the story of their first longwave wireless station, a navy wireless station that was inaugurated in 1906 under the informal callsign UK. That callsign, UK, was subsequently regularized to NPN.  During this consecutive series of historic topics, we have presented the story of many wireless and radio stations on Guam, including the two Gospel shortwave stations, Adventist World Radio KSDA and Trans World Radio KTWR.

            On this occasion, here in Wavescan, we return to the radio scene on the island of Guam for episode number 16. Today’s story is presented under the title: The Radio Scene on the Island of Goats.

            Actually,  there are several islands in various places around the world that have been given the name Island of Goats or Goat Island.  Back during the era of European exploration across the wide oceans upon planet Earth, there were several occasions when a few goats (or sheep or pigs) were dropped off on a small island somewhere so that they could multiply and serve as a food source for subsequent explorers traversing the same wide spread ocean expanses. 

            Apparently Cabras Island on the edge of Guam was one such location where a Spanish galleon dropped off a few goats, a few hundred years ago. The Spanish word for Goat is Cabra. 

            Cabras Island in the Central Pacific, the Island of Goats, is a small low island at the end of a narrow reef causeway that extends from the central west coast of the larger island Guam.  The causeway and the small island form the northern arm of Apra Harbor, a location that the Japanese armies defended vigorously around the middle of the year 1944. 

            Early in the following year (1945), the Americans began work on the installation of a Coast Guard radio station on Guam’s Cabras Island. The electronic equipment was installed in a small corner of what was called an Elephant Quonset Hut, a large semi-circular steel two storied prefabricated hut. 

            Coast Guard radio station NRV was soon taken into regular service with a staff of just four operators.  Station NRV was in use for communication with local shipping, and with the small Chain of American LORAN navigation stations in the western Pacific.

            Some 18 years later, Coast Guard Radio NRV was enlarged and upgraded, with new electronic equipment, though still at the same location in the Elephant Quonset Hut.  Around this same era, there was a major earthquake off the coast of Japan, with the threat of a tsunami along the coast of Guam.  The communication radio station NRV was temporarily abandoned due to its low lying location, though subsequent information demonstrated that this had not been necessary.

            Two years later (1965), the NRV Coast Guard communication station was transferred  from Cabras Island into ground level rooms in Building 150 in the Naval Communication Station NPN at Finegayan.  This new location for NRV was very close to the cave that the famous American escapee George Tweed survived in during the era of Japanese occupation.

            The transmitters in use for station NRV were part of the naval transmitter complex at Barrigada, and usually NRV communicated in Morse Code on shortwave via one of the 1 kW AN/FRT-70 transmitters.  There was a buried cable running from Building 150 to Building 112, and then a microwave relay carried the electronic signals to the navy transmitter station.

            Ten years later again (1975), Coast Guard NRV was moved upstairs in the same Building 150 at Naval Base Communications.  The receiver equipment was also installed in this same Building 150.

            However, give almost two more decades (1994), and the operation of Coast Guard Radio NRV on Guam was transferred and remotely controlled from Coast Guard NMO in Hawaii and also from NMC at Point Reyes in California.  The use of Morse Code was finally dropped during the next year, on April 1, 1995.

            However, current information available on the internet indicates that callsign NRV is still in use on Guam to this day.  Station NRV is still available for communication in the usual way by aircraft and shipping coming and going in the Guam area.  We might add that Coast Guard Radio NRV on Guam readily verified listener reception reports in the past.

            On the next occasion when we visit the radio scene on Guam in the western Pacific, we plan to present information about the NORAD navigation radio station which was installed on another nearby small island, known as Cocos Island. 
(AWR Wavescan 447)