Officially, on July 28 1999, the Canadian Coast Guard stopped the watch on 500 KHz. Here is a transcript of the last broadcast message:
CQ CQ VAS de VCO VCO
ON DECEMBER 15, 1902, GUGLIELMO MARCONI MADE COMMUNICATION HISTORY BY TRANSMITTING THE FIRST WIRELESS RADIOTELEGRAPHY SIGNAL FROM THESE SHORES. FOR 97 YEARS WIRELESS OPERATORS HAVE PROVIDED COMMUNICATIONS DEDICATED TO THE SAFETY OF LIFE AT SEA.
FROM SITES AT GLACE BAY, LOUISBOURG, NORTH SYDNEY, SYDNEY AIRPORT AND NOW THE COAST GUARD COLLEGE OPERATORS OF VAS AND LATER VCO HAVE ALSO DEDICATED THEMSELVES TO THIS CONTINUOUS VIGIL. IT IS WITH BOTH PRIDE AND REGRET THAT WE REMEMBER THOSE WHOSE LIVES WE HAVE HELPED SAVE AND THOSE WE COULD NOT.
WITH ADVANCES IN TERRESTRIAL AND SATELLITE COMMUNICATIONS WE NOW SIGN OFF THE MORSE CODE AS A PRIMARY SAFETY SERVICE TO MARINERS. TODAY AFTER ALMOST 100 YEARS CAPE BRETON ISLAND WILL FALL SILENT ON 500 KHZ. IT IS THUS FITTING THAT ONE OF THE LAST REMAINING CW STATIONS ON THE ATLANTIC COMPLETES THE CYCLE BEGUN SO MANY YEARS AGO.
AS MARINE COMMUNICATIONS AND TRAFFIC SERVICES OFFICERS, WE DEDICATE OURSELVES TO THE SAFETY OF THOSE WHO SAIL THESE WATERS. USING THESE NEW METHODS OF COMMUNICATION, WE PLEDGE TO MAINTAIN THE WATCH. GOOD BYE AND 73 AR DE VCO CL VA
[Station "VAS" which corresponded with Sydney, NS Radio/VCO on 28 July 1999 was NOT a marine station located at the Coast Guard College, but a special call sign given to the Cape Breton ham club for one day, and further permission was granted for them to drop the PREFIX of VE1 for the communications with Sydney Radio/VCO. (VE1)VAS used a frequency in the 3.5 MHz Amateur band and not 500 kHz or any maritime service frequency. They identified on this frequency as VAS].
Copy supplied by Jillian Carson-Jackson Instructor and Program Coordinator Marine Communications and Traffic Services Training Department, Canadian Coast Guard College, Sydney, N.S., Canada
The Coast Guard continued the monitoring of 500 KHz and MF CW from two stations in the Arctic but only until such time that GMDSS was implemented world wide. Around 2000 or 2001 these CW services were terminated for good and without any fanfare or ceremony. All ships now equipped with GMDS satellite and DSC suites.
VICTORIA CG Radio VAK
According to Wayne Fullerton, "VAK was established on Gonzales Hill (sometimes known as Shotbolt Hill), in Victoria in 1907 but opened officially in 1908 under call sign "VSD." In 1913 the call sign was changed to the familiar "VAK" in accordance with the Berlin Convention. In 1940 the station was moved 12 Km to the north at Gordon Head where it remained until 1967 when it was again moved, this time to McMillan Road in Sooke. As part of the 10 year "West Coast Radio Consolidation Plan" and subsequent merger of Vessel Traffic Services and CG Radio, the Sooke station was closed on the 31st of March 1992. Services were remoted to Vancouver CG Radio (VAI) in Richmond and Tofino CG Radio (VAE) in Ucluelet. The Call sign "VAK" remained "dormant" until the new "Victoria Marine Communications and Traffic Services station opened in Pat Bay, officially in February 2000. Once again "VAK" was back on the air - even if only marine VHF".
|Chris Hyde is sending the last CW transmission from Victoria CG Radio in Sooke upon closure in 1992. (Photo by John MacFarlane)|
|More VAK photos|
Wayne Fullerton transcribed the "Final CW Broadcast" from Victoria Coast Guard radio in Sooke on March 31, 1992 at 1600 hrs PST. .On 500 KHz: CQ CQ de VAK VAK Station Closure MSG QSW 430 KHz ARHe goes on to say "This transmission was not the last CW transmission from the West Coast. The last CW transmission from West Coast was sent at least a year (1998) before the last CW transmission in Canada also due to changes brought about by the West Coast Consolidation Plan.
On 430 KHz: CQ CQ de VAK VAK BT At 2400 UTC VAK will close forever after 84 years SVC. VAI and VAE will handle MF CW and RT. Good Bye to all stations and ships at sea. 73 NW QRU QRT CL AR VA
On the tape at the end of this broadcast, the vessel C/S/ "KSBZ" calls VAK, (( VAK de KSBZ K)) there is a pause and VAK answers ((KSBZ de VAK GB 73 E E))
VAK then sends the following: CQ de VAK NW Closed QRT 73 AR VA Another station "NTRI" calls ((VAK de NTRI 73 AR)) VAK then sends simply, "GB"
Since this was a planned service termination, all stations were broadcasting a NOTSHIP to that effect for a month prior to shutdown. Broadcasts were sent by each station on a predetermined schedule so whichever station was "last on the broadcast schedule" would have been the station that sent the last CW message from the west coast. That station's call sign is not known at this time".
This was the final QSO from Sydney Radio/VCO.At 010133Z Aug 99 VCO and COJA (a Cuban fishing vessel) on 484/480 (this is the Halifax/VCS transmitter at Sambro Head, NS) After giving the Cuban a QSL for the telegrams he sent VCO said:
COJA DE VOC. OM CLOSING AT 0300Z FOR GOOD. NO
MORE 500 KHZ AFTER 0300Z K
To which COJA replied:
QSL WHAT DATE K
TONIGHT ADVISED YOUR AGENT (pause) DID NOT RECEIVE
ANY RESPONSE. THIS WAS PLANNED A LONG TIME AGO
BUT PERHAPS NO ONE TOLD YOU K
The Cuban finally replied:
R QSL QSL REGARDS 73 73
To which VCO sent:
73 SEE U
TU dit dit
and VCO sent
And that was it. The end of Canadian Morse on the Atlantic. Transcript provided by David J. Ring.
Contributors and Credits:
1) John MacFarlane <catherineandjohn(at)dccnet.com>
2) Wayne Fullerton <waynef5(at)telus.net>
3) Spud Roscoe <spud.roscoe(at)ve1bc.com>