Yesterday we discussed Harry Spencer's account about the installation of generators on the mv Fredericia. Harry ran into problems with the employees of Dundalk Engineering Works who downed tools immediately they learned what the mv Fredericia would be doing. They had been told that this ship was to be a new ferry boat to revive the business that once operated out of Greenore, prior to January 1952.
This is what Harry Spencer had to say about this matter. "We had some German generators to fit on the mv Caroline, I had made some suggestions where to site them, I marked out areas of steel bulkheads that would have to be cut, and marked out on the deck where the plant would be sited. I needed extra staff for this work, about half a dozen in all including engineers, welders, burners, etc., which we got from Dundalk Engineering Works. The work continued apace, but when the company discovered that this was to be a radio ship, the workers did not return." Based upon the recall of Harry Spencer, this event took place some time around February 25, 1964.
The other key dates that need to be considered are these: Wijsmuller assisted in the purchase of the Fredericia at Copenhagen, Denmark on December 30, 1963 which is when it was taken to Rotterdam. On a date prior to January 30, 1964 Harry Spencer went to 47 Dean Street to meet Allan James Crawford. On February 5. 1964, the mv Mi Amigo arrived at El Ferrol, Spain and Harry Spencer was there to inspect it. On February 13, 1964, Harry Spencer arrived at Greenore, Ireland and discovered that the mv Fredericia was already there. Based upon the recall of Harry Spencer, the installation of the generators took place some time around February 25, 1964.
When George Saunders arrived at Greenore for his job interview with Alfred Nicholas Thomas, which seems to have been around the date of Friday, March 13, 1964, the mv Mi Amigo was tied up next to the mv Fredericia. On March 27, 1964 , the mv Fredericia renamed Caroline, left Greenore bound for an anchorage off the coast of Essex, England which when and where the radio ship began test broadcasts upon arrival. The Granada TV documentary which was part of the 'World in Action', that was shown on May 12, 1964, but the film crew was at Greenore after the mv Fredericia had left, because it only showed the mv Mi Amigo in port at the time, but still photographs showed that the was not much distance between them, and John Howard Gilman's initial introduction to the ship, after they arrived from Dundalk, recounts them walking past the mv Fredericia on the quay, to reach the mv Mi Amigo.
According to this time scale the work and confusing confrontation regarding the generators installation by Dundalk Engineering Works, had already taken place before George Saunders arrived at Greenore.
Now we come to the third person in this story, and he is a Swede named Ove Sjöström. [See picture top-right.] Ove had previously worked on the mv Mi Amigo under its name of Bon Jour when the ship was the home of Radio Nord. But later, on board the mv Caroline, ex-Fredericia, Ove made a recording for his friends in Sweden, although Ove does not give a date for his audio letter, which is in response to a tape he had received from the person he was talking to in reply. The only clue offered is when the transcribed notes say that he made it "in the Spring of 1964. but he did provide his location: "At the moment we are anchored outside Ramsey on Isle of Man at about 5 kilometers from the beach." This recording was later transcribed into English and put online, and the following quotations are excerpts from that transcript:
"The studio I am sitting in just now is approximately 2x4 meters; a little studio. I am speaking about one meter from the microphone so you hear the background noise from the generators. This noise is not going out over the air that much as I have cut out the frequency band now, so that at 250 cycles it is approximate minus one dB; at 30 cycles it is minus 10.5 dB. From 500 cycles up to 15000 cycles it is within +/- 0.5 dB, so in fact it is more or less a hi-fi sound on this station and it is great to achieve that. The generators are two Mercedes diesels each of 125 hp with a switch panel from which everything is switched automatically. Not yet can we start the generators from up here, but I am preparing for this to be possible." These are the same generators that were installed by Dundalk Engineering Works on site at Greenore.
Ove continues: "The working force on board is myself as chief technician plus three panel operators. .... The antenna makes it possible to go down as far as 1175 kc so we are having great possibility to move on. And if we can go down to 300 meters this also means that we are going to get a larger coverage in our ground wave, which in fact matters most to us." Translated, this means (1175 KiloHertz, or close to 256 meters, with 300 meters representing approximately 1000 KiloHertz.) Initially, Radio Caroline advertised that it was broadcasting on 199 meters, which is 1510 KiloHertz.
The so-called 'merger' seems to be one of confusion for Ove, because he says that: "Around the end of August, the program will probably be changed completely, now when we have merged with Atlanta. Then all recordings will be done in London. At the moment they are building studios, four of them, to make it possible to arrange recordings from there and then they are double them off and send one copy to each ship. So we are going to broadcast the same program at the same time from both of the ships and probably all of the programming to be on tape in the future and nothing directly from the ships as it has been done up to this date."
It was during this time that Chris Moore was supposed to become the 'Caroline Network' Program Director, but for mainly practical reasons that did not happen and both stations mainly used 'live' presentations from the two ships. However, from the very first day on air, Caroline's early programs from the mv Fredericia were broadcasting tapes made at Allan Crawford's studios at 47 Dean Street in London. This is something that Ove has little first hand knowledge about, because he admits this: "Unfortunately I have been very little in London at our head office .... next time I am going to London in middle of August then I shall bring home all the photos from this ship, the studios in London ...."
Tomorrow this thread will continue with Ove's observations and it will be followed by George Saunders' commentary about the poor state of engineering on the mv Caroline.