Brief History of Walvis Bay Radio

Walvis Bay Radio has been on the air since 1922, when the old German H.F. Station in Tsumeb was transferred to Walvis Bay.

The first radio station in Walvis Bay stood on stilts near the North hospital. In this radio station stood a powerful Marconi transmitter inside a cage. Every time one had to change frequency, it had to be done manually. The receiver used was a box type Racal.

In 1958, this station was upgraded and relocated near the Duneside school to accommodate both the marine and inland radiotelephone network. A Senior Technician and two assistants stationed at the old manual Telephone Exchange used to help out with faults. When major faults could not be cleared by them, faults technicians were called out from Windhoek, 400 kilometers away.

Sometimes Walvis Bay Radio were off the air for days whilst the technicians went through the fault finding process step by step according to the Service Manuals as there were no standby transmitters available.

When the Suez Canal closed because of the Israeli-Arab war, Walvis Bay Radio became too small to cope with the increase in traffic which indirectly resulted in the building of a new Radio Station approximately 15 kilometers out of town in the desert.

This station was opened in 1973 and is still occupied today with the transmit station another 10 kilometers further down the road.

The geographical position of the Receive Station is 23.03,15 south and 014.37,30 east. The Transmit Station is situated at 23.03.15,32 south and 14.37.32,06 east and is a replica of the Receive Station.

Luderitz Radio, which was manually operated in the old days with the callsign ZSA and later changed to ZSL, was eventually taken over by remote control via Walvis Bay Radio in the late 70's. A watch-keeping service on 2182 kHz was kept, with VHF channel 16 introduced a number of years later.

Walvis Bay Radio was officially handed over to Telecom Namibia by Telkom South Africa on the 1st March 1994, and now operates under the callsign V5W for Walvis Bay Radio and V5L for Luderitz Radio, which is remotely controlled via Walvis Bay Radio.

Walvis Bay Radio provides vital links in the Marine and Inland Radio Communications service. The main modes of communication are Radio Telephony, Fax, Navtex and the Radio Direct Dialing System.

The Maritime Radio Section carries out vital functions as part of the International Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) agreement dealing with all Distress Calls at sea and is the main source of communication between the stricken vessel and land. A 24-hour watch-keeping service on the International Distress and Safety frequencies/channels - channel 16 VHF, 2182, 4125, and 6215 kHz.

The transmission and monitoring of safety-related messages, weather forecasts and reports, navigation warnings and Navtex broadcasts, connection to medical advice and evacuation assistance as well as other associated safety services. To adhere and to be in accordance with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Convention, SOLAS Chapter IV, as amended in 1988 and SOLAS Protocol for the implementation of Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) 1992-1999, Wireless Telegraphy (Morse Code) 500 kHz was phased out at the end of February 1999. Walvis Bay Radio opted to keep this service open for the many foreign fishing vessels that operated along the Namibian coast and was officially closed down on the 1st February 2001 to allow for the implementation of GMDSS and international standards. This will be implemented in the near future.

In additional to this the Radio station provides a manual and automatic radiotelephone (Radio Direct Dialing) service for vessels along the Namibian coast.

The Inland Radio Section, like the maritime section, offers a manual and automatic radiotelephone service to all the remote and rural areas in Namibia.

The 24-hour Manual Radiotelephone service provides communications to all radio subscribers who are licensed to operate through our network from any base or mobile station within or outside of Namibia.

Also the connection to medical advice, evacuation assistance and other associated safety services. Radio Fax - the acceptance and retransmission of faxes to any destination or radio subscriber connected to our fax facility. Automatic Radio Direct Dialing Systems (RDD) - enables any base or mobile station to bypass the operator and make or receive calls to/from any destination in the world.

Today, Walvis Bay Radio has a compliment of thirteen staff members viz. one Supervisor, ten Maritime Radio Officers, of which three are still on training and two laborers.


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