Seventy-Eight Years of Amateur Radio at the U.S. Naval Academy
The Amateur Radio Club is the oldest, continually active club here at the United States Naval Academy.
In October of 1928, Midshipman First Class D.T. Ferrier requested permission
from the Superintendent to organize the Amateur Radio Club under the auspices
of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Physics. On 10 November 1928,
permission was granted by the Superintendent to organize the club. Less than
two years later the club received the call sign of W3ADO on 20 March 1930
from the Department of Commerce and has continued to operate that call sign
for over seventy years.
In the early years and through the mid-1950s, the club
interacted closely with local Naval Radio transmitter facilities. Through set
schedules, Midshipmen received on the air training in radio drills sponsored
by the 5th Naval District. The equipment used by the club came
from these facilities with the help of the Office of Chief of Naval
Operations and the CNO himself, Admiral S.C. Hooper. Throughout the 1930s,
the club continued to operate as W3ADO, and trained Midshipmen in the use of
radio transmitters. Unlike many other clubs at the Academy during World War
II, W3ADO was not shut down, but continued to operate and participate in
Naval Communications drills. Field Trips were often taken to local
transmitting facilities to gain knowledge and experience. One such facility
that was often toured was the former transmitter facility located on Greenbury Point.
Throughout the years the club continued to expand and
acquire new equipment, not only through the CNO’s
office, but through civilian retailers as well. For many years, there were no
amateur facilities that could rival W3ADO. This trend continued for many
years until the transition to the club’s current 7th Wing location
when much of the equipment was sold rather than be put into storage.
As technology progressed, W3ADO began providing valuable
service to Sailors and Marines worldwide by providing phone patches between
the servicemen and their loved ones. In 1967 the club assisted the USS Wasp
while she was operating in the Caribbean.
Through amateur radio W3ADO was instrumental in contacting Norfolk
and having replacement parts for a defective catapult on the Wasp sent to Guantanamo
Bay by the following
morning. Again in May of 1967, the club was contacted by station PY2DL in Brazil.
A child was suffering from leukemia there, and it was necessary to have an
immediate consultation with a doctor in Memphis,
Tennessee. Through the efforts
of W3ADO, the necessary consultation was completed, and a new medicine was on
its way within eight hours of the contact to aid the Brazilian child to
recovery. W3ADO and its MARS component, NNN0NNN, have continued this
tradition of service. During the late 1990s, the club began participating in
Annapolis Striders events, MARS activation for Hurricane Floyd in the Fall of
1999, and acting as a National Weather Service reporting station for the
severe winter storm in January of 2000. The club has and will continue an
active role in community activities and emergencies.
During the Spring of 2001 an attempt was made to eliminate
the USNA Amateur Radio Club due to waning participation by Midshipmen.
Through the yeoman efforts of LTCOL Smith, USAF (Ret.) and CDR Bruninga, USN (Ret.), W3ADO was spared from the chopping
block because of its integral role in the operation of the USNA Amateur
Satellite Program. W3ADO also supports USNA through “real time” tracking of
the game ball en route to Philadelphia
every year for the Army Navy Game and provides the communications staff for
Sea Trials, the annual rite of passage for all Fourth Class Midshipmen that
marks the end of their year of training and indoctrination.
In February 2003, the club suffered the theft of its
primary VHF/UHF and HF transceivers, devastating its communications ability.
Ever flexible, the Midshipmen have persevered through this challenge, as well
as the severe threat to their antenna farm presented by Tropical Storm
Isabel. In the calm before the storm, the Midshipmen members of W3ADO
disassembled and removed all antenna and towers that would have been
otherwise destroyed or damaged by the high winds and severe rain. Unlike the
rest of the Academy, W3ADO suffered no damage from the storm and after some
maintenance repair, has restored most of the antennas to their rightful place
on the roof of 7th Wing
In September 2004, W3ADO began reorganizing and
revitalizing the club. While club membership may be down due to recent
members graduating, enthusiasm is very high. The club has elected new
officers, acquired some new members, and is now growing in endeavors.
June 2005 The radio Club has currently been removed from
active ECA Status due to the USNA ECA requirements of maintaining 20
personnel on the roster. Currently the active members of the Club are looking
for interested Midshipmen and Faculty to re-establish the club for the 2006
academic year. Also there will be a proposal to make the club a Brigade Support
Activity which does not have the personnel quota requirement.
If you are interested in participating in the club for the
2006 Academic year please fill out the contact page and submit your contact
information. A member of the Club will contact you.
Revised by Dan Trembula, ‘03
- Revised 19 June 2006