ST. ROCH RADIO ROOM

This web document has been created as a "placemat" in order to collect information about the radio room aboard the historic RCMP Auxiliary Patrol vessel  ST. ROCH. If anyone can provide more information , please contact: Jerry. Proc@sympatico.ca

For those interested in the historical aspects of the St. Roch, please visit the  web page of the Vancouver Maritime Museum .
 

st_roch_image.jpg
St. Roch (Vancouver Maritime Museum photo)
This is a cutaway graphic showing the starboard side of the St. Roch. The radio room is on the port side. (Courtesy Dept of Supply and Services, 1983)
SPECIFICATIONS

Vessel type: Started as a Schooner. Later converted to a Ketch.
Length : 104 ft 3 in.
Beam: 24 ft 9 in
Draught: 11 feet
Displacement: 323 tons
Top speed: 8 knots
Launched: May 7, 1928

HISTORICAL INFO

Sixteen years after being launched, St. Roch was refitted at Dartmouth, N.S.  in preparation for her 1944 voyage.  A much larger deckhouse was constructed with individual cabins for the crew, the 150 hp diesel engine was replaced with a 300 hp. diesel, and there were other, lesser, upgrades.

Retired RCMP S/Sgt. Dan Lemieux of the Vancouver Marine Museum provides this detail regarding the power plants. "The 1928-1943 engine was a 150 hp Union Diesel, six-cylinder, four-cycle, with single acting 8 1/4 inch diameter cylinders. Both engines were made in California.  The propeller was a single screw, three-bladed propeller, 58 inches in diameter, with a 35 inch pitch.  At 340 rpm, it  produced a top speed of 8 knots.  The engine consumed 290 gallons of fuel in a 24 hour period at optimum speed.  Since the vessel could only carry 7,000 gallons of diesel, (25 days sailing),  it was necessary to carry many 45 gallon drums of diesel.  When the main tanks went dry, the crew had to wrestle the drums out of the hold and transfer the contents into the tanks.  St. Roch cruised at 6 knots for best fuel consumption.  After the 150 hp engine was extracted during the 1944 refit, it was fitted  into  a fishing vessel on the West Coast.  That vessel sank in a storm and that engine is now resting on the bottom of the Bay of Alaska.

The second engine produced 300 hp.  It was also a  six-cylinder, four-cycle engine but having 11 inch diameter cylinders.  At 350 rpm it only produced a top speed of 8 knots.  Dockyard mateys tried a 4 bladed propellor but it caused vibration, so they went back to the original three bladed one.   More power....but no increase in speed.

In Halifax they installed a new battery bank on a platform in the engine room.  A small gasoline auxiliary engine was used  to charge the batteries.   This allowed the crew to use the radios and other electrical devices without running the main engine.   It was especially helpful during the 11 winters they spent frozen in ice in the Arctic".

RADIO ROOM ERAS

Radio call sign: VGSR

1928-29: This was St. Roch's maiden voyage and her first trip into the Canadian Arctic. The vessel sailed from Vancouver on June 28, 1928, wintered at Langton Bay, and returned in the fall of 1929. On launch, she was fitted with state-of-the-art radio equipment. This consisted a  50 watt shortwave transmitter and a 100 watt longwave transmitter both made by Canadian Marconi. The model numbers are not known at this time nor the receiver models.

Research indicates that the St. Roch stayed in touch with a network of stations in the Arctic and all around Canada.  Radio operator Cst. Edward (Dean) Hadley, transmitted regular reports to Coppermine, NWT twice a week.  Other research material indicates that one of the duties of the St. Roch crew h was to provide daily weather reports to Ottawa.  It was also mentioned that the crew routinely listened to the radio when they were off duty.

The vessel obtained a broadcast license so that they, on occasion, could broadcast news and music to the northern natives. Dean recalls that it was around 670 KHz. where they aired their broadcasts. As one would expect, the AM signal would have a limited range. There was no regular schedule, just the occasional news and music, with most of the potential listeners being forewarned via short wave radio that there would be a broadcast.

It is also believed that Land Stations in the North were notified about St. Roch's broadcast schedule and, perhaps word spread to the native people that had access to battery operated receivers. There were long periods of time when  the ship was frozen in ice so she was used as an RCMP  "Detachment" . Perhaps there were more broadcasts during this period.

1930-34: The longest voyage in the history of the ship. St. Roch provided service to the Coronation Gulf area of the western Arctic. Returned to Vancouver after spending four winters in the Arctic.

1944: This was St. Roch's "lucky" 86-day voyage on the more northerly route of the Northwest Passage from east to west, sailing from Halifax to Vancouver. It is believed that the radio room was upgraded during the refit and this was probably the final configuration before the vessel was retired.

st_roch_radio_room_1928_1929.jpg
Radio room - 1928-1929 era
st_roch_radio_room_1930_1933.jpg
Radio room 1930 to 1933 era
/st_roch_radio_room_emergency_xmitter.jpg
Emergency transmitter. 
Can anyone identify the gear? Photos courtesy Vancouver Maritime Museum

 
 
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The LTT-4 installation (rightmost unit) aboard the St. Roch.  The tall unit to its left is the 200PT. (Image courtesy Vancouver Maritime Museum)
Dean Hadley was the wireless operator on the 1942 voyage  (West to East ). In his book "What a
Life !" ,   he describes St. Roch's transmitter as the Canadian  Marconi 100W4, that was operated operated on CW only.  A modulator was later added, using a pair of 204 vacuum tubes. It is believed at the 100W4 was removed during the 1944 retrofit and replaced with the Canadian Marconi LTT4 transmitter

When the radio room was re-modelled in Halifax in 1944 , it was moved to a narrower room adjacent to the galley.  Hadley’s quarters were beside the radio room.


Contributors:

1) Dick Pulsifer RCMPVA  Nova Scotia Division  <rpulsifer(at)bellaliant.net>
2) Retired RCMP S/Sgt. Dan Lemieux Special Events Docent, Vancouver Maritime Museum <deebeel(at)telus.net>
3) Spud Roscoe <spudroscoe(at)eastlink.ca>
4) Vancouver Maritime Museum

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Jan 12/17