1936 - Ship Broadcaster - the MS Kanimbla

Project Overview
1800s - Land Telegraphy
1874 - Guglielmo Marconi - a Tribute
1895 - Wireless Telegraphy
1901 - Wireless Telegraphy
1902 - Wireless Telegraphy in Australia
1904 - Australian Coastal Radio
1906 - Wireless Telephony
1912 - Melbourne Radio - VIM
1914 - Shortwave Wireless Telephony
1920s - Commercial Shortwave Telephony Development
1920s - Receivers
1920 - The huge RCA Longwave Station in New York
1920 - Wireless broadcasting in Australia
1920s - First shortwave stations in Victoria
1921 - Discovery of Shortwave Propagation
1921 - Koo Wee Rup (Victoria) Experimental Wireless Receiving Station
1923- Longwave Broadcasting in Australia
1923 - Evolution of Australian Domestic Radio
1924 - 3LO - Melbourne's Second Broadcaster
1924 - 3AR - Melbourne's first broadcaster
1924 - The Braybrook (Melbourne) Transmitting Site
1925 - First Shortwave Stations in Western Australia
1926 - First Shortwave Stations in New South Wales
1926 - RAAF Communications - Laverton (Vic)
1927 - Beam Wireless Worldwide
1927 - Beam Wireless from Australia
1928 - ABC Lyndhurst (Victoria)
1930 - AWA Receiving Station at La Perouse (Sydney)
1930 - AWA Radio Centre at Pennant Hills
1933 (to 1969) - Shortwave Radio Clubs in Australia
1936 - Ship Broadcaster - the MS Kanimbla
1939 - Belconnen Communications Station (Canberra)
1940 - RAAF Receiving Station at Werribee (Victoria)
1941 - RAAF Frognall (Melbourne)
1941 - ABC Brisbane
1942 - Army Wireless Chain - west of Melbourne
1942 - Dutch Stations in Australia
1943 - ABC Radio Australia - Shepparton (Victoria)
1943 - Army Shortwave HF Stations in Melbourne
1944 - ABC - Radio Australia - Looking Back
1945 - PMG Receiving Station - Highpark (Victoria)
1945 - Radio Australia - DXers Calling
1946 - Radio Australia - Communications Programs
1946 - VNG Time Signal Station
1948 - Radio Australia QSL Cards
1948 - ABC Sydney
1966 - ABC Cox Peninsula (Darwin)
1970 (to 2012) - Shortwave Radio Clubs in Australia
1975 - ABC Gnangara (Western Australia)
1975 - ABC Carnarvon (Western Australia)
1978 - Omega Navigation Station - Woodside (Victoria)
1985 - ABC Northern Territory
1989 - ABC Brandon (Queensland)
2003 - Private Shortwave Broadcasters
Timeline - Part One - 1839 to 1927
Timeline - Part Two - 1928 to 2012
SPECIAL - Licencing of Shortwave Broadcasters
SPECIAL - Radio Receivers for Shortwave
SPECIAL - Radio Monitoring as a Hobby
Bibliography, References and Resources
Links to the author's personal websites

1937 - QSL card

April 21 2012 commemorated the 76th anniversary of the first shortwave broadcast from the MS “Kanimbla”.

April 26 1936
This was the date on whjich the ship was officially launched. It operated in Australian waters as a passenger liner and had a shortwave radio station on board. It was the only ship in history in which a commercial shortwave radio broadcasting station was constructed into the vessel at the time of building.

The 11,000 ton passenger liner was built at Belfast in Northern Ireland, by the famous ship building company, Harland and Wolff. The electronic equipment was manufactured by AWA in Australia and shipped to Ireland for installation while the ship was still under construction.

The ship was named for the Kanimbla Valley, west of Blackheath in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales.

A radio broadcasting license with the experimental callsign VK9MI, was granted to the "Kanimbla" by the PMG’s Department in Australia.

The station consisted of two studios - one for group broadcasts, and the other for announcer presentation. The crystal controlled transmitter was rated at 1.5 kW.

The original AWA transmitter could operate on any frequency between 20 and 50 metres. The first test broadcast from 9MI was made on April 21, 1936 during sea trials in the Firth of Clyde.

The ship began its delivery voyage from Northern Ireland to Australia April 26, 1936 and is reported that the radio station 9MI made four test broadcasts each day during this 25,000 km journey.

The official inauguration of the new radio broadcasting station VK9MI was made in a special broadcast to Australia while the ship was south of the continent in the Great Australian Bight, 1500 km from Sydney. At 8:00 pm Eastern Australian Standard Time, VK9MI went on the air shortwave and the program was picked up and relayed throughout Australia over the ABC mediumwave network.

This inaugural broadcast from 9MI was made on 11720 kHz, though subsequently the regular channel was 6005 kHz, which was later changed in April 1939 to 6055 kHz. The schedule was irregular, usually half an hour or an hour a few evenings a week. The announcer and manager was Eileen Foley.

The "Kanimbla" carried passenger traffic backwards and forwards on the southern route between Western Australia and Queensland, and the ports of call in this shuttle service were Fremantle, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Mackay.

The local AWA mediumwave stations on land in each of these areas frequently relayed the shortwave programming from VK9MI to the local audience. Among these stations were 2AY in Albury New South Wales, 3BO in Bendigo Victoria, and 4CA in Cairns Queensland.

On many occasions, radio station VK9MI was heard on shortwave throughout Australia and New Zealand, and many QSL cards were signed by the famous woman announcer, Eileen Foley. As time went by, the transmitter began to malfunction and it produced a noisy wide signal in the 49 meter band.

1945 - Kanimbla at Fremantle

At the outbreak of the European War at the beginning of September 1939, the station was closed down by the Government, along with all other experimental shortwave stations in Australia. The "Kanimbla" was reregistered to the Royal Navy as HMS-Kanimbla in October 1939. In July 1943 it was reregistered as HMAS-Kanimbla and became a troop carrier. Between October 1946 and June 1948 it supported the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces in Japan.

December 1950
It was refitted and purchased by a Japanese company, renamed the TSMV Oriental Queen and continued as a passenger cruise ship in the Pacific.

December 1973
Broken up for scrap in Taiwan.

VK9MI was on the air for a period of just three and a half years. All that is left now is found in radio memorabilia, military and historical archives, entries in old radio magazines, and articles and books on the history of radio broadcasting, and a few isolated QSL cards in old QSL collections.

Sources used in this article are diverse, and include the State Library of Western Australia, Maritime World on-line, Offshore Radio, Dr Adrian Peterson – Adventist World Radio (USA)

1936 - Kanimbla

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