I was R/O for Crowley American Transport and sailed all 'Wolf' class Ro/Ro
container cargo ships (and the 'Bird' ships). Upon Captain's orders, I
would radio our ETA to WPE on 8294 kHz about an hour out before picking up
the Jacksonville pilot. We were operating liner service to East Coast South
America with: M/V Sea Lion - KJLV, M/V Sea Fox - KBGK and M/V Sea Wolf -
KNFG. Unfortunately, all those ships have been sold and re-named and are
now part of the Military Sealift Command where they are stationed in Diego
Garcia, Saipan and Guam as pre-position ship (I have a good idea where they
are at the present moment).
For the most part, ship operations at Crowley have been taken over by a
stunning array of some of the largest ocean going barges on the high seas.
However, I believe there are still container cargo operations in the
Caribbean operating out of Jacksonville and/or Port Everglades. As a
side-note, I suspect if the water shortage crisis continues in Florida, I
anticipate seeing Crowley water barges supplying that state with potable
water---like they did in Desert Shield/Storm. Crowley tugs were used
exclusively in Exxon Valdez operation. Crowley vessels are identified by
the trademark red smokestack with the black band on top.
WPE station is just a transceiver (box) stuffed into a closet having a long
microphone cord to the dispatcher's desk. Antennas are a hank of wire and a
beam in fixed position about 30 feet high. No QSL cards from WPE that I
know of but I replied to verification requests to our shipboard coms with
official letter and stamp, photocopies of the station equipment that was in
use at the time and if the person was near to a port where we docked I would
invited them aboard for a tour and lunch.
WPE is located in downtown Jacksonville, FL off of Talleyrand Avenue and on
the edge of the St. John's river right at the northwest corner of the John
> More details than my previous msg on this topic.
> Between 0500-0520 zulu nightly on 4149 Usb you can hear big, deepsea
> "Invader-class" tugs of the Crowley company file their position reports to
> WPE in Jacksonville, FL. Alternate freqs are 6224 and 8294. The reports
> are very standardized, and include lat/long position, speed, distance
> run/distance remaining, course, ETA, weather, etc.
> I usually hear from five to seven Crowley tugs report nightly, one after
> the other, and have been plotting their positions. Most seem to be
> shuttling between the 1100 NM between Jacksonville and Puerto Rico at a
> speed of 9 to 10 NM, but I've gotten no inkling as to the nature of their
> mission. A few of the tugs are shuttling between Puerto Rico and more
> northerly ports (in the Baltimore-Philadelphia region). My guess is
> they are towing POL barges, on the assumption Puerto Rico ports can't
> accept large tankers.
> At http://www.redwaveradio.com/ you can download a .pdf file on their "Invader-
> class" fleet of 25 tugs... I think I've heard half of them. These tugs
> are the biggest Crowley has, with a length of 136 feet. HF SSB gear on
> board includes 300 W PEP and 150 W PEP transceivers. I've never had any
> problem hearing them loud and clear on 4149.
> If you're not a nightowl, a recording 0500-0530Z on 4149 should catch a
> few of these tugs. The three freqs also catch a bit of simplex ship/ship
> chatter in various languages.
> Anti-Spam address: my last name at his dot com
> Charles Gillen -- Reston, ***ia, USA