April 27, 2018

US Naval Hospital Ship USNS "Mercy" (WSPR chatter 2)

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The USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) is a US Naval Hospital Ship, and is currently in the Indian Ocean participating in Pacific Partnership 2018, a Disaster Preparedness mission.

Pacific Partnership is an annual deployment of forces of the Pacific Fleet of the US Navy in cooperation with local governments, military forces, and various humanitarian and non-governmental organizations. Pacific Partnership was conceived "To Prepare in Calm to Respond in Crisis" following the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami disaster.

The USNS Mercy is homeported in San Diego, California. She was originally built in 1976 as an oil tanker. In 1984 she was converted to a hospital ship and in 1985 was launched as the USNS Mercy. The Mercy class hospital ships are the third largest ships in the US Navy Fleet by length. During the Pacific Partnership missions the ship offers humanitarian assistance to the countries she visits.

The USNS Mercy off the coast of Dili, Timor-Leste (source)

Good news to the radio amateur is that the Mercy onboard has a ham radio station, callsign K6MRC. During the Pacific Partnership 2018 mission K6MRC has been sending WSPR signals which have been received around the world, including at PA7MDJ in the Netherlands. As soon as I found out about the WSPR station aboard the Mercy as soon as I could I started a monitoring session on 20m with my SDRPlay RSP1A receiver and a 20m sloping dipole antenna. The first two spots that were made included K6MRC! According to the information contained by the WSPR signal, the power used was 10 Watts and the location of the ship was in grid NJ46 in the Indian Ocean halfway between West Sumatra and Sri Lanka.

On the wsprnet.org blog on April 22nd, 2018, K6MRC wrote the following:

WSPR Around the World - By Ship!

Using WSPR to make contacts as we sail on our humanitarian mission - Pacific Partnership 2018 - has been both fun and challenging! Finding the right bands at the right power at the right times of day and night produces way different results. I have been able to tune our system to almost NO power and we are still reaching every continent on the planet. I hope everyone continues to upload their spots and make contacts as it is exciting to see how we can make this radio technology work! 73's!!!


Unfortunately the past two days, the WSPR database has shown no more WSPR activity coming from the ship. The last spot was made on April 25th 08:08 UTC. Let's hope the Mercy WSPR beacon will return on the air soon.

PA7MDJ receiving K6MRC

Reception of K6MRC at PA7MDJ with SDRPlay RSP1A receiver and WSPR 2.0 software

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