PA3CLQ's Leuke Linken Nr. 432


Museum Ship CW

Hi Folks:
Earlier today I was taking a tour of the submarine (now museum ship) USS Albacore in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

I heard some QRS CW and followed it to the radio room (actually a tiny radio hutch) where an endless recording played CW at about 9 WPM.

Part of the code read "NSS ACK?" Inside the radio room was some 1970s vintage radio gear (i.e., the standard shipborne receiver with a big gray know for each digit of the frequency).
I wonder if anyone in SKCC ever served on this ship or worked at the NSS shore station.
73, Brian, KD6NRP/1


Never worked or even visited there, but as a young ham back in the early sixties, while I did homework after school, I'd often have a receiver on in the background, tuned to NSS - sending seemingly endless strings of Vs and Id's:


Indelible memories :-)

73 Chris NW6V


To improve my cw, I'd listen to maritime traffic on HF.

Mostly port permissions and occasionally descriptions of cargo or destinations -- boring but PERFECT cw.
Andy, K2OO


Ditto, Chris -
During the late 50s in Wisconsin, I first listened to HF with an old cathedral top BC/SW receiver.

NSS was the only signal that came through loud enough - with enough repetitions - for me to fully copy.

Lack of a BFO was no obstacle; the airwaves were full of heterodynes in those days.

Even now, when I'm absentmindedly doodling during code practice, I catch myself sending that VVV DE NSS NSS W W W VVV. Good memories.
Gary, K9ZMD Ridgefield, WA


Thanks for the memories. I spent 27 years in the navy nuclear submarine service.

All my boats were nucs.

Albacore was a landmark development in design of submarines – the first of the “tear drop shape” hulls.

This shape resulted in much less noise generation, particularly at high speeds.

We were stationed at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard 1983-1985 (Repair Officer at the yard).

Not sure what receiver you were looking at but sounds like the famous old R-1051; very wide spread installation in our USN ships in the 70s and 80s.

Not a bad rx but I much prefer the old dinosaur R-390.

(I would be interested in comments from some of you other navy guys out there on your preference between the R1051 and R390)

Semper cw.

Dave, W1DV (Capt, USN, Ret.)


Hi Dave:

I looked up the R-1051 and it looks very similar to what I saw on the USS Albacore.

When I visited the USS Midway in 2011, I saw multiple racks full of R-1051 or similar receivers.

I am somewhat surprised at your comments regarding the performance of the R-1501.

I assumed that these expense MIL-SPEC rigs had exceptional receive performance.

73, Brian, KD6NRP/1


I agree with Dave and liked the R-390 better.

I even owned one for awhile.
Joe V31JP


R-390 vs R-1051

For CW R-390 had better selectivity and more adjustable filtering.

At .1 hz it did give you a ringing tone so you had to tweak it a little.

I also believe when maintenance was done correctly it had better sensitivity.

All but one of the ships I was on had an R-390 mounted on the CW console.

Some had an R-1051 mounted next to it.

R-1051 was our work horse for multi-channel broadcast and voice circuits.

Pain in the A(^)% when you had to run through a list of frequencies to check for an open channel or doing Quality Control checks on 80 different frequencies. Having to turn all those separate knobs for the individual digits.

R-1051 was also the receiver used in the AN/WRC-1 Radio Transmitter/Receiver set.

This was the largest 100 watt radio I ever used.

73, Jim Bassett, W1RO-ARRL Nevada Section Traffic Manager, Life Member


We had two R390s at K2USA (Army MARS at Fort Monmouth, NJ) when I was assigned there in '64-'65.

One was used for CW with a BC-610, the other for RTTY.

Can't compare it to the R-1051 as I've never seen one or served on a ship.

But the R-390 was an outstanding receiver especially in those days.

We had several studios full of S-Lines as well, but the R-390 was the real workhorse on MARS circuits.

No doubt a typo, but that should be .1 KC as .1hz would be a very very narrow filter, indeed.

Even at .1 KC, a functioning filter that narrow was a marvel.

Eric KE6US



Good catch. .1 KC because we didn't have KHz on any radios back then. HI HI

Jim Bassett, W1RO-ARRL Nevada Section Traffic Manager, Life Member


Here on the WW2 Sub USS COD SS-224, we have two RAL/RAK pairs, a TCS-12 combo and a couple of RBOs.
There is also some late WW2 VHF/UHF xtal controlled transceivers that were used for talking directly with carrier planes when doing Dumbo (lifeguard) duty.
73 - Bill KA8VIT


I concur with the others, Brian -- many thanks for the memories.

Oh how I used to enjoy listening to CW traffic on the marine frequencies!

I sure miss that era of shortwave radio listening, including the shortwave broadcasts of the 60s and 70s.

One thing I DO NOT miss is LORAN on 160 meters... and you think the "Woodpecker" and other OTH radar emissions are bad! :)
And regarding military receivers, I had the good fortune of using a U.S. Navy surplus RBC-6 (I think that was its numerical designation -- or was it a 4?) as a Novice.

(It's the large receiver on the right-hand side of the B/W photo of my 1970 WN9EBE Novice station on QRZ.)

It was fabulous, and literally built like a battleship.
You know, with all the interesting, truly innovative, and technologically advanced digital modes of today, we CW operators -- especially SKCC ops! -- can take great pride in keeping Morse code alive and well on the shortwave radio bands.

Ladies and gentlemen, please keep up the good work -- and have fun while doing it!
~73~ es ZUT, Chip W9EBE


USS Albacore:

USS Midway



RBC Series







73, your Editor PA3CLQ



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