The Maritime Mobile Service Net Part 1

This is the first in a 5 part series on the Maritime Mobile Service Net by John Emery

Forty Years Is A Long, Long Time……

…to keep a volunteer organization alive. Forty years is a much longer time for volunteers to consistently save lives and property, year in and year out.

The Maritime Mobile Service Net is a group of sixty to seventy volunteer licensed amateur radio operators in North and Central America who man an emergency frequency on their radios ten hours each day, 365 days a year.

The MMSN was founded forty years ago (in the Viet Nam War era) by Navy Chaplain Winston Robertson to provide “phone calls” back home for sailors on duty at sea and their families. Needless to say, an amateur radio station on the ship was only one end of the “phone line.” Many amateur radio operators “back home” volunteered their time and stations to complete the calls by connecting their radios to phone lines.

Throughout the intervening forty years, technology has advanced and fewer active duty service personnel use this service as it originally existed. Yet in 2001, thanks to MMSN Net Control Operator Terry Pipitone, KB1FMM, a sailor aboard a US Navy destroyer at sea got to hear his newborn son’s cries for the first time. On August 12, members of the Maritime Mobile Service Net, with cooperation of the Pacific Seafarers Net, put sailor Mark McDonald in touch with his wife, Wendy, in California and set to go into labor at any time. The sailor later was able to chat with his wife and her mom and to listen to his son’s crying.

The mission of the MMSN has expanded over the years. Once every hour amateur radio operators around the world hear the familiar words, “The primary purpose of the net is for handling traffic from maritime mobiles, both pleasure and commercial, and overseas deployed service personnel.  We also assist missionaries and persons working abroad.”

Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at some of the other services being provided by the Maritime Mobile Service Net. Until then, we add our congratulations to those volunteers who give their time, equipment and skills to not only those in need of help but to the U.S. Coast Guard in many of its SAR missions.

Tomorrow: Piracy Didn’t Die With Blackbeard

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