1995: Final morse signals from Cook Strait ferries

New Zealand ferries Arahanga and Aratika

Cook Strait ferries Arahanga (left) and Aratika sent the final morse messages from NZ-registered ships. Photos GothPhil on Flickr

Even after the last two New Zealand coast stations (Wellington Radio and Auckland Radio) closed on 30 September 1993, the Cook Strait ferries continued to communicate with each other on 500 kHz radiotelegraphy for more than two years, until 3 December 1995.

On that date, final greetings were exchanged between Nigel Hardy (R/O of Arahanga ZMBN) and Ken Grace (R/O of Aratika ZMFL). See below for their messages as recorded in the radio logbook aboard Arahanga.

The third inter-island ferry in service at that time, Arahura ZMBS, had been the first to be converted to GMDSS and farewell messages had been exchanged with Radio Officer David Hopgood aboard Arahura at that time.

NZ ferries abandon morse code

Marlborough Express, 1995. Click to enlarge

From the radio logbook of Arahanga ZMBN

03/12/95 NZDT

1032 from ZMBN to CQ on 500 kHz:

FOR OUR FINAL W/T MESSAGE QSW 468 KHZ =

1033 from ZMBN to CQ on 468 kHz:

= ARAHANGA/ZMBN FINAL W/T MESSAGE 022130Z/031030 NZDT DECEMBER 1995. TODAY SUNDAY AND TOMORROW MONDAY BOTH LAST REMAINING W/T FERRIES ARAHANGA/ZMBN AND ARATIKA/ZMFL WILL CONVERT TO G.M.D.S.S. THESE FINAL W/T TRANSMISSIONS MARK THE END OF AN 80 YEAR PLUS HISTORY OF MORSE CODE ON NEW ZEALAND REGISTERED SHIPS AND RADIO OFFICERS. FROM US BOTH A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR. BON VOYAGE 73 = NIGEL HARDY R/O ZMBN (ZL2TX) KEN GRACE R/O ZMFL (ZL2NO) + VA

1037 from ZMFL to ZMBN on 468 kHz:

R QSL MSG = WE ARE HUMBLED IN BEING THE LAST TWO WIRELESS TELEGRAPH OPERATORS ABOARD COOK STRAIT INTERISLAND FERRIES STOP WE PAY OUR RESPECTS TO THOSE OPERATORS PAST AND PRESENT OF ZMBN/ARAHANGA ZMBS/ARAHURA ZMFL/ARATIKA ZMRD/ARAMOANA ZMUR/ARANUI STOP BV ES 73 + TU K

1042 from ZMBN to ZMFL on 468 kHz:

R QSL UR MSG TKS ES SU AROUND 73 FM HR + ZMBN NOW CLOSING FOR FINAL TIME ON W/T GOODBYE ALL + VA

Radio Officer Ken Grace aboard Aratika in 1981

Radio Officer Ken Grace aboard Aratika in 1981. Photo: David MacIntyre from his book Cook’s Wild Strait