W3ADO Club History
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