The Jacksonville Naval Museum/USS Orleck, Fort Caroline, and the Jacksonville Zoo – Overnight Jacksonville Road Trip Radio Report; 13/14 November 2022

On Sunday and Monday, I took an overnight road trip to Jacksonville to visit the Jacksonville Naval Museum/USS Orleck (DD-886), Fort Caroline, and the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. Even though a cold front moving through brought cloudy skies, it was still a good weekend and I enjoyed visiting a new museum ship, walking the trails at Fort Caroline, and strolling through the zoo. On the radio side of things, I made two boneheaded mistakes that I’ll get into later… Overall, though, it was a good trip.

The USS Orleck (DD-886)
Downtown Jacksonville, the John T. Alsop Jr/Main Street Bridge, and the St Johns River from atop the USS Orleck (DD-886)

Amateur Radio

Once I crossed the Georgia/Florida state line and got close to Jacksonville, I started trying to put my callsign out on the North Jacksonville DMR repeater, but I kept on getting “Repeater Not Found.” It turned out that this was because of Bonehead Mistake #1. The North Jacksonville DMR repeater is off the air, I know it’s off the air, but I forgot about it and fort to change my radio codeplugs to account for it. While I was touring the USS Orleck, I realized what I did, and I was able to manually make some corrections before I hit the road to Fort Caroline. After fixing both the HT and the mobile radio, I was able to talk to Bobby, KN4NOV, Donnie, KM4CTB, and Pete, K4QHR using the Downtown Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach DMR repeaters. Later in the afternoon, I met up with Donnie at the Seafood Kitchen in Atlantic Beach and enjoyed meeting him in person after many QSOs on the radio and an excellent seafood dinner.

146.7000- (PL 127.3) - Jacksonville
146.7600- (PL 127.3) - Jacksonville 
146.9550- (PL 127.3) - Jacksonville
147.0300+ (DMR CC1) - Callahan
147.1350+ (PL 127.3) - Jacksonville
442.4250+ (DMR CC1) - Jacksonville Beach DMR
442.9000+ (PL 127.3) - Yulee
444.4000+ (PL 127.3) - Jacksonville
444.4250+ (DMR CC7) - Downtown Jacksonville DMR
444.7000+ (PL 127.3) - Jacksonville

I ran into an RFI problem at the hotel on Sunday evening while having a 70cm QSO with the HT. While I was transmitting, I started hearing a clicking and electrical shorting noise in the room. I discovered that it was the GFCI/Breaker built into the power cord of the hair dryer in the room; once I unplugged it, everything was fine. The GFCI in outlet wasn’t the issue – it was what was built into the power cord. If you’re in a hotel, using an HT and start hearing weird noises – check the hair dryer!

This GFCI/Breaker on the end of the hair dryer power cord misbehaved when I was transmitting on 70cm with an HT while inside the hotel room


The second Boneheaded Mistake of the trip was made on Monday morning when I got to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. I left the Uniden HP2 in the mobile station running to record MilCom activity to review later, but I forgot to press “Record” on the touchscreen, so there was nothing to review. There likely would have been more to include in this section had I pressed “Record,” but here is what I was able to hear on an almost MilCom-less Sunday and on the drive back to Savannah. Even on Monday, there just wasn’t as much MilCom activity as usual – perhaps there was a three-day holiday weekend hangover… It’s worth noting that since my last visit to the Jacksonville area, the fire departments at NSB Kings Bay, NS Mayport, and NAS Jacksonville have gone encrypted; there is still a bit of unencrypted traffic but most of it is now encrypted.

119.000/121.300/124.900/127.000/127.775/132.775 - Jax TRACON
284.600/308.400/322.400/335.600/351.800/377.050 - Jax TRACON

264.200 - NAS Jacksonville; VP-8/VP-26 Base
271.400 - NAS Jacksonville; VP-5/VP-16 Base
306.000 - NAS Jacksonville; VP-30 Base

300.125 - NS Mayport SESEF
156.6000 - Marine VHF Ch 12, Mayport Port Control

US DOD TRS (NSB Kings Bay and NS Mayport sites)
 TG 28053 - NSB Kings Bay Unknown; enc
 TG 28075 - NSB Kings Bay unknown; enc
 TG 28118 - NAS Jax Tower; unenc 
 TG 28138 - NAS Jacksonville?; Unknown Squadron Maintenance Control
 TG 28146 - NAS Jax FD Dispatch; enc/unenc
 TG 28174 - NS Mayport FD Tac 2; enc
 TG 28264 - NS Mayport Tower; unenc
 TG 28267 - NS Mayport Aircraft POL; unenc
 TG 28306 - NS Mayport Unknown; unenc
 TG 28318 - HSM-40; unenc
 TG 28329 - NS Mayport Crash Net; unenc
 TG 28344 - NS Mayport Ship POL?; unenc
 TG 28348 - NS Mayport Unknown; enc
 TG 28354 - NS Mayport FD Dispatch; enc/unenc
 TG 28355 - NS Mayport FD?; unenc
 TG 28358 - NS Mayport Unknown; unenc
 TG 28372 - NS Mayport Unknown; unenc
 TG 28557 - RFD Southeast 1; enc
 TG 28585 - NSB Kings Bay Unknown; unenc
 TG 28589 - Trident Refit Facility? unenc
 TG 28614 - NSBKB Fire Tac; enc

162.3250 ($293) - CG 111, Sector Jacksonville; enc
412.9750 ($293) - CG 409, Sector Jacksonville Air Ops; enc

Public Safety

Most public safety communications in the Jacksonville area are on the First Coast P25 TRS, but there is a bit of conventional activity from Florida Forestry and some of the medevac helicopters. From where I stayed overnight, I could also hear the Little Talbot State Park repeater. From parts of Jacksonville, I was also able to hear the Clay County P25 TRS and the St Johns County P25 TRS.

159.2400 (PL 97.4) - Florida Forestry Commission Jacksonville
151.0100 (PL 103.5) - Little Talbot State Park

462.9500 (PL 173.8) - LifeFlight (Jacksonville)

First Coast P25 TRS
 TG 149 - Jacksonville Fire/Rescue A4 Suppression
 TG 1085 - Jacksonville Fire/Rescue A1 EMS East
 TG 1087 - Jacksonville Fire/Rescue A2 Dispatch
 TG 1089 - Jacksonville Fire/Rescue A3 EMS West
 TG 1113 - Jacksonville Fire/Rescue Fireground B1
 TG 1523 - Jacksonville IAP Events/Crash
 TG 1563 - Jacksonville IAP Events 1
Clay County P25 TRS
 TG 300 - Clay County Fire/Rescue Dispatch
St Johns County P25 TRS
 TG 10000 - St Johns County Fire/Rescue A1 Dispatch
 TG 10025 - St Johns County Fire/Rescue A6 Tac 3


In addition to MilCom and Public Safety communications, I also listened to Marine VHF and the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. Jacksonville is a busy port city so there was no shortage of activity from the St Johns River Pilots and tugboats working in the St Johns River. The Marine VHF frequencies are all analog, so they’re easy to listen to with an inexpensive scanner or an amateur radio HT with extended receive capability. Listening to the Zookeepers at the Jacksonville Zoo is also a way to enhance my visits to the zoo; when some animals aren’t on exhibit yet, I can hear when they do go on exhibit or hear why some animals aren’t on exhibit (to be honest, I don’t listen to the two Ops/Security talkgroups, there’s not much there that interests me). The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens uses a DMR system, so to listen to them, you’ll have to have a radio capable of receiving DMR.

156.7000 - Marine VHF Ch 14; St Johns River Pilots Jacksonville
156.6500 - Marine VHF Ch 13; Port of Jacksonville Navigation Safety
156.3500 - Marine VHF Ch 7; Jacksonville tugs
156.9000 - Marine VHF Ch 18; Jacksonville tugs
156.9500 - Marine VHF Ch 19; Jacksonville tugs

463.2500 (DMR CC8 SL1 TG 1) - Jacksonville Zookeepers 1
463.2500 (DMR CC8 SL2 TG 2) - Jacksonville Zookeepers 2
464.1875 (DMR CC12 SL1 TG 3) - Jacksonville Zoo Ops/Security 1
464.1875 (DMR CC12 SL2 TG 4) - Jacksonville Zoo Ops/Security 2

USS Orleck (DD-886)/Jacksonville Naval Museum

The first stop on the road trip was the USS Orleck (DD-886)/Jacksonville Naval Museum in its temporary location in front of the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront on E Coastline Dr by the Main Street Bridge. A recently arrived museum ship in Jacksonville, the Orleck has only been open to visitors for a couple of months now. I purchased an annual membership to help support the restoration of the ship and the museum, but this weekend was the first opportunity I had to visit. The staff and volunteers are friendly and knowledgeable, making a visit to the ship an enjoyable one.

From what I understand, there will eventually be amateur radio involvement with the USS Orleck and the Jacksonville Naval Museum, just what I kind of involvement that will be I don’t know.

The Orleck was a Gearing class destroyer that served in the US Navy from 1945 to 1982 and with the Turkish Navy from 1982 to 2000 as the Yucetepe (D 345). If you look in the bridge and the CIC, you’ll note that the status boards are still in Turkish. In US service, the Orleck was involved in the Korean War and the Vietnam War and participated in the recovery of the Gemini IV capsule on 7 July 1965. The Orleck was originally a museum ship in Orange, TX but she was damaged during Hurricane Rita in 2005 and eventually found her way to Jacksonville where she is moored on E Coastline Dr until her permanent home and the Jacksonville Naval Museum is ready.

Fort Caroline

The Fort Caroline National Monument is part of the National Park Service’s Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve in Jacksonville. The fort that exists at the site now is not the original Fort Caroline, it is only what Fort Caroline is believed to have looked like. The visitors center for the preserve is also located at the Fort Caroline National Monument, so a visit provided information about the Timucuan Indians who inhabited the area, the brief French colonial presence in the Jacksonville area, and the ecology of the Jacksonville area.

In May 1562, Jean Ribault claimed the modern-day Jacksonville area, placing a stone marker on a bluff over the St Johns River. Just down the road from Fort Caroline. That location is now marked with a stone monument that is part of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. Fort Caroline was established in June 1564 by French Huguenot (Protestant) settlers along the banks of the St Johns River. The French community naturally came into conflict with the Spanish who were also colonizing Florida. The conflict between the French and Spanish in Florida came to an end in September 1565 when the Spanish wiped out Fort Caroline; of the 200-250 occupants, only a few were taken prisoner or escaped – the rest were killed.

Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens

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