A Navy Ship in the Southern Coal Fields of West Virginia

The advent of “radio” changed the nautical world. Today sailors still consider it a godsend much like “fresh water” and “smooth seas” as they traverse the worlds shipping lanes. Radio still offers security, comfort, and safety in the marine world today.

We don’t get many “seafaring” ships here in the “southern coal fields” of West Virginia; so it’s quite a surprise to hear that such a ship will be in our “home port” next week.

Although the capitol city of Charleston is in the southern coal fields, the Kanawha River is navigable due to a series of locks and dams. (there are three on this river) I worked as a deck hand on a river boat many years ago.

I hauled coal from the headwaters of this river to a large “coal fired power plant” on the Ohio River.

The “locks and dams”  on the river, which runs through Charleston, will allow this old Navy transport ship (LST 325) to dock here between August 30th and September 3rd.  
I’ve seen this ship before. As a matter of fact, I’ve used it’s “ships radio” to chat with a Marine Museum in California. It made me feel like I was back on the Destroyer USS Corry during my “military” service back in the late 60’s.
Several year ago, this old LST steamed from it’s “home port” in Indiana and docked a few days at the mouth of the “Little Kanawha River” (not the same a the “big” Kanawha River) as it came down the Ohio River, which is several miles North of Charleston.

You can read about it HERE

I regret that I will not be in town the week LST 325 is docking in my hometown; but I hope the “radio guys” in my valley take the time to “roam” around this historic ship. These old “flat bottomed” boats were the “worst riding ships” on the seas. When I did the same a few years ago, and mentioned that I was a “ham” to one of the crew members, I was allow access to the “radio room” and made a CW contact with a “Marine Museum” in California.

I used 20 meters to make my 20 meter CW contact from the LST at that time.

Listen for the call sign WW2LST on the CW portions of the bands this year. Morse code played a significant role on these old ships because it’s one of the simplest and most effective modes of communication in the world.

I’ll be listening for it from Calgary this year. 

John Smithson, Jr., N8ZYA, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from West Virginia, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

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