M/S "Marie Horn"
I began my seafaring career on the "Marie Horn". The shipping firm was "Heinrich C. Horn," a subsidiary of "Hamburg-Süd." Many radio newcomers began their seafaring careers on Horn ships. The management must, by the way, also arrange for radio operators to help run the ship, which was my responsibility. With the 18 man crew I had no large problems, though this was not particularly my favorite job. Though the ship was built in 1956, it had no Radar, no automatic steering, no VHF radio, and naturally there was no air-conditioning for the crew quarters - and the cargo space could go down to -21°C. (-4°F) The Marie Horn was a small refrigerated ship in coastal motorship form, and ran, in my time, between Capetown and Walvis Bay, and Spanish ports, mostly Cadiz.
The Radio Station
Manufacturing Organization: DEBEG (Deutsche Betriebsgesellschaft für drahtlose Telegrafie) (German Manufacturer for Wireless Telegraph) Short-wave transmitter: Lorenz S540 (200 Watts output. Frequency range 4 to 16 Mhz.)
Medium-wave transmitter: Telefunken 527 (70 Watts output) combined for main power and emergency power.
Main receiver: Siemens E566 (Standard receiver from the '50's to the end of the '60's on German ships.)
Emergency receiver: Siemens E-500.
The radio room actually had a strong resemblance to the radio cubicle on an old German U-Boat.
The upbeat time ended November 1965 when an outrun from Cadiz was not very promising; seasick, then the main receiver failed and could not be repaired with the materials on board, and I had collected a whole pile of Christmas telegrams. I had absolutely no desire to call Cadiz Radio/EAC with the 500 kc transmitter, so I switched to hf, and bathed in sweat, with a damp hand called Norddeich Radio; Normally I would hear them and switch to an alternate frequency. Actually no problem, but the main receiver was not working, and the emergency receiver did not have good calibration for hf, and I had to keep my hand on the tuning knob the whole time to try to find the correct frequency. I directly came to Norddeich Radio, and copied, "DAKO DE DAN QSA 0 ND PSE QSR SK." (I cannot copy you. Please send your call again.)
Picture this misery: One
hand on the receiver, one hand on the telegraph key, and a bucket between
my legs, while I was sick and the small ship strongly rolled in the heavy
seas. The next call was successful, and I told Norddeich that I was a newcomer
had receiver trouble. That worked, and the operator on the other end had patience and made a great effort to work me. He permitted the combination of my approximately ten telegrams without the word count, and I was greatly relieved.
After a week, everything was different. Seasickness was gone, in Dakar harbor I found the replacement part for the main receiver, and I could again do normal radio operation. About 14 days later we were in Kapstadt, this wonderful city.
In the 10 months on the
Marie Horn I had my intensive maritime radio experience. Because
of the relatively weak performance of the transmitter, without 22 Mhz,
and the long distances, one quickly develops a feeling for propagation
conditions, traffic time, and the right frequency. It was always
easy to work both coastal stations, Norddeich Radio and Cape Town Radio,
and one could depend on them.
In the Bay of Biscay and
the English Canal I experienced heavy traffic density for the first time
on the 500 Khz emergency and calling frequency. Hell was loose on 500 Khz!
The discipline of the ships and coastal stations in handling traffic was