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.
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!
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
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.
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