The 80th anniversary of HMCS HAIDA is being celebrated during the weekend of August 25-27 and the celebration is taking a page from her history. The Friends of HMCS HAIDA and Parks Canada, supported by volunteers from local radio clubs such as the Hamilton Amateur Radio Club, have established an amateur radio station on board, the HMCS HAIDA in Radio Room 1. The focus of this event is to honor HAIDA’s legacy by combining historical elements with modern communication technology.
Amateur radio aboard HMCS HAIDA has an interesting history. Around 1948, the Royal Canadian Navy began allowing amateur radio operations aboard its ships. In the 1950s, the federal government issued special callsigns to Canadian naval warships. For the crews on the ships, amateur radio helped to maintain good morale. Personal messages were constantly being sent back and forth. This traffic consisted of birth announcements to birthdays on the good side and sickness and death on the bad side. The crews at least had a method of personal communication that was not otherwise available to them.
When HMCS HAIDA was birthed in Toronto at Ontario Place, an amateur radio station operated between the months of May to October. Its main purpose was to promote the ship using amateur radio. Throughout the years special event callsigns were authorized to observe historical events. Sadly, except for a couple of occasions HMCS HAIDA’s amateur radio station fell silent in September 2002 when the ship was being prepared for refit in Port Weller, Ontario, and eventual relocation to Hamilton.
As a way to celebrate the 80th anniversary of HMCS HAIDA The Friends of HMCS HAIDA and Parks Canada have re-established just for the month of August an amateur radio station on board the HMCS HAIDA. The station has been using the authorized special event callsign VB3HAIDA for the last two weekends and for the weekend of August 25-27, the station will be using the special event callsign VB3HAIDA80 in commemoration of the ship’s 80th anniversary. The station expects to be active on the 40-meter band. More information on the event can be found at: https://www.qrz.com/db/VB3HAIDA and the Hamilton Amateur Radio Club’s webpage at https://hamiltonarc.com/events/Haida/index.html.
During the last two weekends, the amateur radio volunteers managed 138 contacts who were located in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario, and the US. The contacts were from operators located in twenty-four states from California to Vermont and from Florida to Wyoming. The US contacts also included the USS Indianapolis, an amateur radio club based in Indianapolis set up to commemorate the tragic loss of the USS Indianapolis in 1945, and the NS Savannah (Nuclear Ship), which was the first nuclear-powered merchant ship and is now located in Baltimore, Maryland. The amateur radio station also resulted in a bit of a social media explosion surrounding HMCS HAIDA.
During the weekend of August 25-27, we will be using the special event callsign VB3HAIDA80 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of HMCS HAIDA. We hope we will be able to build on our success over the last two weekends and surpass the number of contacts we have currently made and share HMCS HAIDA’s legacy as Canada’s “most fightingest ship”.
Amateur radio operators can find additional information on the event on the QRZ.com page: VB3HAIDA – Callsign Lookup by QRZ Ham Radio.