The Radio Rose of Texas by Derek Burroughs, jr.
Revised on November 13th, 2008, 2338 UK time.(42 years to the minute since the final broadcast of Swinging Radio England)
Updated November 22nd, 2013
Chapter 10: What happened to the Olga Patricia?
A blueprint from just before the Olga Patricia was to be converted into a radio ship (it still has guns on it from WWII)is stamped "American Bureau of Shipping, Miami, Florida." reveals that the vessel was a US Army 176 Supply Vessel - renamed MV Olga Patricia. It is drawing number 381-2 - Marine Design Branch, Engineering Division, Office of Assistant Chief Transportation for Supply, War Department, Washington, DC. Dated as approved by the Army(which she was built for) on June 18th, 1943. On the backside where it was folded someone has written in handwriting: Olga Patricia Plans.
Blueprint of the Olga Patricia. ©Derek Burroughs archive.
Design and Engineering by Sturgeon Bay Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Consultants - W.C. Nickum & Sons - Naval architects, Seattle, Washington. Prof. L.A. Baler, N.A., Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The Olga Patricia was originally called ”Deal”.
Coast Guard-manned and commissioned at New York on 16 August 1944 LTJG W. G. Hill, USCGR, was her first commanding officer.
On 6 September 1944, she departed New York for the Southwest Pacific where she operated during the war. On 1 August 1945, the FS-263 anchored in Serida Lagoon, Biak, New Guinea, without cargo awaiting orders to proceed to the Philippine area, and departed on the 2nd for Finschhafen, New Guinea. Arriving on the 6th, after an uneventful voyage, she loaded mail and commissary supplies for Oro Bay, New Guinea and Milne Bay, New Guinea. On the 7th she entered drydock at Finschhafen, where she remained until the 9th having her bottom scraped and repainted. On the 11th she departed Finschhafen to search for a man lost overboard on the 10th, but returned to port when the man was located on Scarlet Beach having swum ashore during the night. On the 15th she departed Finschhafen for Oro Bay, New Guinea, and moored there on the 16th. Here the #3 cylinder liner of her starboard engine was found to be cracked and it was deemed inadvisable to proceed to sea with only one engine. She was, therefore, docked at Oro Bay for the remainder of August 1945 with cargo for Oro Bay discharged but cargo for Milne Bay still on board. While the engine was being repaired, the crew was engaged in routine cleaning and upkeep work aboard the vessel. On 12 October 1945, the Coast Guard crew was removed from the FS-263 and she was decommissioned.
She was acquired by the Navy at Apra, Guam 2 March 1947. Commissioned as Miscellaneous Auxiliary, USS Deal (AG-131) at Guam 3 August 1947, Lieutenant (junior grade) P. G. Patton in command. She was reclassified Light Cargo Ship AKL-2, 31 March 1949.
Based at Guam Deal carried cargo to the small islands in the Marianas, Marshalls, and Carolines until arriving at Pearl Harbor 11 August 1949. She conducted cargo operations from this base to the outlying islands of the Hawaiian chain, Palmyra, and Canton until 16 May 1950. She sailed to Kwajalein for a brief period, returning to Pearl Harbor 3 July.
With the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, Deal got underway from Pearl Harbor 14 September 1950 for Sasebo, a city located in Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan, arriving 8 November. She operated as a part of the 7th Fleet under the control of Commander, Service Squadron 3, in logistics support of the United Nations forces in Korea, and visited other ports in Japan, Formosa, the Pescadores, Okinawa, and the Philippines until 28 February 1955 when she departed Yokosuka for the United States. After a short visit to Long Beach, CA., she was de-commissioned at Portland, OR., 8 September 1955 and arrived at Astoria Bay 13 April, 1955 to be laid up in the Pacific Reserve Fleet, Columbia River Group, Astoria, OR. The call sign of the Deal was NPBG. (N(nan), P(Peter), B(Baker), G(George). She was sold 18 December 1961.
Over to Ensign Les.
And then we turn to a most welcome input, that of Les Wright, former XO of the USS Deal:
Surfing the internet for information on US FS/AKL ships in late 2007, I came across the website of the USS PUEBLO Veterans Association. I already had known for quite some time that the USS Pueblo(AGER-2)is the former FP-344 and AKL-44.
On that site, there was a 2002 input of one Les Wright, which caught my interest:
Realizing immediately this might be a lead to the first part of the Olga Patricia story, I checked telephone directories for the Portland area, and found some ”Les Wright’s”.
I wrote them a short letter explaining my research and that I was after “ the right Wright”!
And sure enough, on January 7th, 2008, an email flew into my mailbox from a former crew member of the USS Deal:
Of course I did not hesitate writing Les back:
Thanks for getting in touch.
As you understand I am a historian seeking former crew of the USS Deal.
I understand you served onboard!
I am interested in footage from the Deal from when it was a Military ship(FP-263, FS-263. AG-131, AKL-2)
Notes from the log book or any data from its history would be great.
A short tale of your experiences aboard the ship would be very welcome, as well as a good scan of the photo you mentioned on the "Pueblo" site.
Also, I am interested to get in touch with others from the crew.
Les was back soon:
I went back to Les with this:
The USS Deal triggers great interest in many ways….having learned about the Deal's military career both as an Army and Navy ship I really want to honour the crew/s, the people who fell in battle and its military service. So a tale of experiences and the snapshots you mention would be great.
From Portland these inputs:
When Les’ 1954 photo of the Deal arrived it was a great day. Here it is:
The AKL-2 USS Deal entering Sasebo harbor in Japan most likely in 1954; Notice the call-flags: N(nan), P(Peter), B(Baker), G(George). You see no crew because the "flag" had ordered NO PERSONNEL visible! Thanks to former XO of the Deal Les Wright for the picture. Les comments:” …re. the position of the motor “whale” boat. Look on the stern (back) quarter behind the wheelhouse (superstructure), upper deck, and you will see a boat, 26' long; with a canvas cover. It was called a whale boat because it looks like one, but was certainly not used for whaling!!! Aside from life jackets, the boat was our only abandon ship medium. On the Deal it was on the starboard; on the Elba(FS-267/AG-132/AKL-3), its on the port… I suppose the builders just put it wherever!!
And then it is over to
What was to be the Olga Patricia seemingly became a cargo ship in the banana trade in the Caribbean and named Don Carlos.
For this period in her life we do not as yet have more facts than first a research note from the Derek Burroughs jr archive:
Then these documents from Panama authorities dated Aug.11th, 1964(with the Olga Patricia name) and Feb.15th, 1966:
She was purchased by Viscaya Inc. and fitted out as a radio ship at Dade Drydock Coporation’s shipyard at Dodge Island, Biscayne Bay, Miami.
Map from msn.com©of the area where the Galaxy and Olga Patricia radio ships were converted showing where they left for the UK in 1964 and 1966, and for one of them, where it returned in 1967. Also try this terraserver.com link for a 1972 local map of the area:
Dodge Island and Biscayne Blvd. in Miami today from the versatile mapquest.com© system
Satellite photo of Dodge Island and Biscayne Blvd. today shown on the fabulous Google Earth© system. Why not download the free version at http://earth.google.com/
Dade Drydock Coporation, Miami, Florida Spring 1966: The mv Olga Patricia up close. Mast and guy wires. What can be her mission? On a better resolution pic included in a DVD compiled by Don Pierson’s son Grey, the first US Navy Designation of the USS Deal, the AG-131 is visible under the white paint and the Olga Patricia name. © Derek Burroughs and Pierson family archives.
Dade Drydock Coporation, Miami, Florida Spring 1966: The mv Olga Patricia and the transmitting mast I. Note the “whale” boat is now on the port side.(See difference above for the photo contribution of Les Wright, Deal sailing into Sasebo. Les also says: The deck house (crews qtrs) is missing and the boat is on the "wrong" side, but both could be explained as ship alterations.) ©Derek Burroughs archive.
Dade Drydock Coporation, Miami, Florida Spring 1966: The mv Olga Patricia and the transmitting mast II ©Derek Burroughs archive.
Dade Drydock Coporation, Miami, Florida Spring 1966: The mv Olga Patricia and the transmitting mast III ©Derek Burroughs archive.
mv. Olga Patricia March, 1966 at Dade Drydock Coporation, Biscayne Bay, Miami. ”In the centre cargo hold of the ship were dropped the 50 kW transmitters and big diesel generators for AC power. And in the forward hold, a prefab studio set-up was just dropped in.”(Larry Dean) Photo from the Pierson family collection, kindly provided by ©Grey Pierson.
mv. Olga Patricia March, 1966 at Dade Drydock Coporation, Dodge Island, Biscayne Bay. ”We had two large cubicles, one of which contained the transmitter facilities,...the other contained the studios for the two stations. They were on shore when I first joined up...”(Rick Randall) Photo from the Pierson family collection, kindly provided by ©Grey Pierson.
The ship was cleared for sailing by the transmitter factory engineer, but Don Pierson told him he didn’t think the antenna would stay up. He was given assurances as to the contrary, but he antenna fell down two hours after leaving harbour.
“It was a lumbering old ship and I think the top speed on it was 10 knots and we sailed out of Miami and once we hit the Gulf Stream between New York and Bermuda the mast of the ship, which had been converted to the antenna for the radio station, actually snapped because the sea was so rough and fell overboard. It had huge stays attached to it and the crew didnęt have anything to cut the stays with so we actually dragged the 100ft. mast hanging off the side of the ship all the way to the Azores! We put in port there for about a week so they could cut the stays and then hauled the mast back on board. We then went to Lisbon in Portugal and were there for about three weeks to have the mast refitted and then we went to Harwich...”
The stop in the Azores was instigated by Continental Electronics, but no engineers were there, so what was to be a very expensive detour found the Olga in the Tejo((Tagus) river in Lisbon. It was maintained a new antenna could not be made here. The Dallas engineer was unaware that the transmitter factory had a resident agent in Lisbon. The ship was then ordered to sail for England.
Lisbon Revisited. Picture of the Tagus River and the 25 Abril Bridge taken from St.George’s Castle with the magnificent Cristo Rey statue. Photo: ©Derek Burroughs archive.
Rick Randall recalls:
“I …recall the magnificent bridge that frames Lisbon against its beautiful seaside. I believe we sailed beneath it on our way into port, and recall being delayed for quite sometime before we were able to dock, though I don’t know why. I would imagine there were some questions Don Pierson might have had to answer about the odd equipment on deck, in particular the mast rising up above it. His usual cover story was that the ship was outfitted for oceanographic research, though it is likely the officials in Lisbon might have thought otherwise…I would have guessed we stayed there about 2 weeks… Jerry Smithwick and I certainly enjoyed the journey across the Atlantic together, and I believe it fostered a genuine friendship between us…”
Lisbon Revisited II. In April, 1966 the Olga Patricia arrived from Miami and Ponta Delgada with Rick Randall and Jerry Smithwick onboard. They went under Lisbon’s ”Golden Gate” and berthed further up the Tagus River. Taken from Bélem with the magnificent Cristo Rey statue to the right. Photo: ©Derek Burroughs archive.
Brian Dean in Daily Telegraph May 2nd, 1966. Pirate Olga goes into battle. From ©Hans Knot’s archive.
When the radio ship arrived off Frinton on May 2nd, 1966, it did open transmissions the day after. However, the twin stations were certainly not commercial being on and off every day. In August, 1966 the factory engineer instructed the station engineers not to exceed the approximately half power(25 kW) it had reached then. Additional equipment would be needed to get to full power. According to the laywer of World Wide Investments, the transmitters were to be completed by March 24th, 1966, in Miami, Florida. By the end of September, 1966, the Olga Patricia project had lost approx. $450,000 per month gross revenue during the 5 months delay, a total loss of $2,250.000.00.
On 28th February, 1967 at 1.45pm the station left the air suddenly as the antenna mast broke. On 7th of March the ship sailed to Zaandam harbour for repairs. On 14th March the Olga Patricia left Zaandam harbour, sailed towards IJmuiden and during the next day it was back at its anchorage at Walton on the Naze.
It is March 14th, 1967 and the Olga Patricia is almost ready to go back to the Essex Coast. Still the old names are used on the two stations. From Haarlems Dagblad and ©Hans Knot’s archive.
On 19th August 1967 the Olga Patricia sailed to the Southern Dutch port of Vlissingen. From there she set sail for Miami on September 1st where she arrived on 22nd September the mast having been bended and destroyed. Crew on board claimed that the damage was caused by a hurricane.
”I last saw the radio ship marooned in a Coast Guard impound site in Miami in the late 60's.”
In Miami the Olga was embroiled in a long series of lawsuits. It had been hopen to lease the ship for a variety of purposes before the settling of all of the outstanding bills came to a head. This did not succeed before the lawsuits started.
The aftermath: Up for sale.
With the implementation of the Marine(etc.) Offences Act on August 15th, 1967, the two radio ships having their origins in Texas were put up for sale.
As is well known, the Galaxy sailed to Hamburg, and later to Kiel where it met a sad fate in 1986. When 1967 came to a close, several would-be takers had shown an interest in buying or leasing this ship from Panavess Incorporated, two of these being the Swiss Radio Gloria International and Radio Nordsee projects, the latter eventually taking it on the air from another ship. But there was also a group wanting taking the Galaxy to South America as a relay station.
Ben Toney relates a very interesting event in Rome in January, 1968 which led him into contact with King Constantine and Queen Anna Marie of Greece who fled from the Military Junta of Greece the month before.
The King said to Toney: ”I had a call last night from Don Pierson in Abilene, Texas, do you know(him)?” ”I said ”yes, I know Don”. ””...He’s trying to lease me his Radio London ship”. ”Don had both of these ships, the Radio England/Britain Radio ship and the Radio London ship...and he was trying to lease them out or to sell them off or anything to get rid of them...” Then the King told Toney Pierson wanted to lease him the ship for $200,000 a month, and that he would like to broadcast to the Greeks. Toney was also offered the job as project leader which he accepted provided the station would have protection from NATO. But he project did not proceed as NATO would not support it.
Abilene Reporter-News September 15th, 1967. The Olga Patricia is anchored off the Azores. Photo from the Pierson family collection, kindly provided by ©Grey Pierson.
September 8th, 1967: Don Pierson has placed an ad in the Wall Street Journal. Is this ad for the ”Galaxy”, lying unused, but ready in Hamburg, Germany? ©Derek Burroughs archive. Used with permission.
Regarding the Olga Don Pierson was given trusteeship of her once again to see if he could lease or resell the ship station as a going concern, by letter, ads in the trade journal "Broadcasting" and press. At least from July 1967 and into early 1968 it is documented that Don offered the ship to virtually every country in the world, Brazil, Peru, Nigeria, Israel, Iraq, India, Taiwan, Norway(!) and the United Nations. It also almost ended up with Herbert W. Armstrong. The most positive reaction came from the USIA, VOA. After all they had had several radio ships, the most recent being the Courier broadcasting “The Voice” beyond the Iron Curtain off Rhodes. Don also got involved with a group wanting him to relaunch it as ‘Wonderful Radio London’ off New York.
In Miami Herald "Tropic" magazine, February 22, 1970 there is talk about an evangelist taking the ship to Italy,
…there is a new chance that the Laissez Faire's role as a radio ship may still be revived - this time off the Italian coast. John McTerman, a Protestant missionary, has made a firm offer to buy the ship's radio equipment and is thinking of purchasing the entire ship.
"McTerman plans to broadcast Protestant oriented programs off the coast of Rome, hoping to strike a responsive chord from Italian Catholics. He claims that the Italian government, unlike the British, has no objection to this….”
When the Olga deal ran out of time and Don lost the ship he planned to buy another, and started planning on this with a new transmitter. The dry dock bills for the ship and details of the transmitter exist. It was to be used for Wonderful Radio London off San Diego, CA tied to Disneyland, and that did not work, then he was going to use it in his Haiti freeport and after two failed freeport ventures in Haiti and Dominica following, Don retired and worked with a local FM station KMWX-FM.
Nothing came of the Pierson attempts to lease out or sell the radio ship, which eventually led to the demise of the entire project in court. In early 1970 the fate of the Olga Patricia renamed Laissez Faire was settled but the radio equipment does not seem to have been physically removed from the ship. This had ocurred at least in 1973, as Trans World Radio has stated they has bought both transmitters at this time.(See Chapter 7.) So the evangelist project never materialized.
September 8th, 1967: The Olga Patricia is waiting off the Azores and Don Pierson has placed an ad in Broadcasting for its two stations. ©Derek Burroughs archive. Used with permission.
July 26th, 1967 and only Radio 355 is left of the Olga stations. As usual, Norway seems to turn down good broadcasting opportunities. ©Derek Burroughs archive.
Also Iraq was offered the Galaxy and the Olga in mid-summer 1967. ©Derek Burroughs archive.
"Last Voyage of A Musical Pirate" Joan Brazer in Miami Herald "Tropic" magazine, February 22, 1970.
©Derek Burroughs archive.
This article has a picture of the ship docked in Miami and another of Larry Dean sitting in what was left of the SRE studio. He tells his story about his days on SRE to the reporter. He relates how he was driving down the causeway and telling his friends about SRE and did a double take when he saw the ship in dock. At the end the article mentions the court case over the Olga operation with somewhat inaccurate facts. It also talks about an evangelist taking the ship to Italy, but the article says that the radio equipment has already been taken off and that the ship is to go back to the Wichita Falls investors.
The article begins:
The last three paragraphs:
©Derek Burroughs archive.
The aftermath: Langford, TWR and...?
On April 18th, 1967, Pierce Langford III acknowledged the existence of Continental's claim to the broadcasting equipment in writing and assured that the claim would be recognized. Langford and Continental in a business deal had agreed that if the vessel and radio equipment were sold as a package a better sale price could be obtained and it was decided to go for at least 550,000 Dollars.
For the Galaxy, the Radio Gloria International project had appeared, which was surpassed by Radio Nordsee, which was why that ship went to Hamburg.
What about The Olga Patricia / Laissez Faire? It is known from a American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) letter that the Olga Patricia / Laissez Faire was given permission on Spetember 28, 1967 to sail from Rotterdam to Miami, Florida. (As documented in a letter from the London office of ABS to Don Pierson at the Abilene National Bank in Abilene, Texas.)
So it was decided to return The Olga Patricia / Laissez Faire to Miami, but there might have been hope of a buyer in Europe, as in September 15th it is anchored off the Azores, to arrive in Miami a week later.
Continental had paid a portion of the insurance to cover the broadcasting equipment on the voyage, and, at Langford's request, Continental made an inspection and made an inventory list of the vessel upon its arrival in Florida.
The Olga Patricia / Laissez Faire arrived in Miami on September 22nd where she remained docked until 1970 guarded by U.S. Marshals while various lawsuits were heard in U.S. Federal Court in Florida. It is also known from the records of that same US court case that Continental were awarded the transmitters. It is also known that the ship Olga Patricia / Laissez Faire was awarded in the same US court case to Pierce Langford III of Wichita Falls, Texas.
On July 18th, 1968, Langford purchased the vessel for 65,000 Dollars at a Marshal's sale earlier ordered by court. He also paid a smaller sum to Merrill-Stevens Dry Dock Co. of Miami who had furnished labor, material and services to the Olga in Spring 1966 to settle their claims.
But now complications arose. Without our knowing the reason, a representative of the company insuring the radio equipment for Continental was denied permission to board the Olga. To secure their interests, Continental went to court on Miami. A decision in this case was made on Jan.21st, 1970.
(A follow-up lawsuit was also later heard in Dallas, Texas when Continental brought suit for funds that it claimed to be owed by the offshore broadcasting investors for outfitting the ship for offshore broadcasting. However, the issue of ownership of the vessel had already been decided in Miami in favor of Pierce Langford III; along with ownership of her twin transmitters in favor of Continental which they removed at that time and at that location.)
Continental had given back the transmitters and in 1973 resold serial #9(1322 kc on the Olga) to TWR Swaziland 1170, starting transmissions in 1981. TWR originally also had #10 of the 317 model(845 kc on the Olga), but resold this item to to Swazi Radio 1376 "Your Much More Music Station" which the Kirsch Bros had started in South Africa. See more about this in Chapter 7.
The question is: what did Pierce Langford III do with the Olga Patricia / Laissez Faire after she came into under his ownership and control? By then it would have no transmitters or broadcasting antenna.
Was the ship used for clandestine work in the Caribbean as Don Pierson indicated in the mentioned mid-80s interview?
He seems to both have hinted to this for the period before the court case and after, in the latter case as a relay station. But he clearly did not want to have any focus on this question.
We will not know until someone steps forward with parts of or the full story.
In the meantime we will have to look in the radio logs of the dxers as well as radio essays from this period.
Both Larry Magne of "Passport to World Band Radio" and Alice Brannigan of "Popular Communications" have touched on this theme.
At least two regular clandestines were monitored around this time, The Howard Hunt operation on MW/SW, Radio Swan/Radio Americas had been closed at this stage, but Radio Libertad was still active on SW and maybe on MW from early in the 60s with a Miami address. And Radio Free Cuba was even said to operate from a ship in the Caribbean on SW.
Regarding operations closer to the US government, the VOA Sugarloaf Key 1040 station was closed in 1965, but VOA Marathon Key, FL 1180 existed from 1962 through the period of interest until it became Radio Martí in the 80s. In one source there is indeed an indication that the VOA used another relay at the time we are interested in. After all, in the 80s they built relay stations on 1580 kc in Belize and Antigua. Both were heard with local IDs at sign off by this writer.
Another fight in court. Dallas Times Herald May 10th, 1974. Photo from the Pierson family collection, kindly provided by ©Grey Pierson.
The wheelhouse of the Olga Patricia, Miami, March 1966. You might like to compare it to what it looks like as of March, 2008 in the Earl J Conrad section below! ©Derek Burroughs archive.
Six shots of the hold of the Olga Patricia, during the outfitting in Miami, March 1966. ©Derek Burroughs archive.
Here seems to be the original specifications for the ship renamed Olga Patricia( but note “Bahamian Flag”) that was sent to Don from Fred J.Driver Associates, 2629 South Bayshore Drive, Miami 33 which he eventually purchased. The deck shot is looking from the bow to the central main mast to which the antenna mast would later be attached. Notice the punch hole marks on the plan – the photocopy has obviously been in a binder and it looks as though someone for some reason placed paper over a section. ©Derek Burroughs archive.
The Olga Patricia as an Offshore radio station:
Radio England from 3rd May 1966 to 13th November 1966, Radio Dolfijn from 14th November 1966 to 28th February 1967, Britain Radio from 3rd May 1966 to 28th February 1967, Radio 227 from 16th March to 21st July 1967, Radio 355 from 16th March to 6th August 1967.
Location: International Waters 4 1/2 miles Frinton-on-Sea, Essex (UK)
Owner: Viscaya(Bahamas) Inc.(1966-1967), later ”Laissez Faire Inc.”(1967-1968), later “Steamship Laissez Faire Inc.”(1968)
The question of the Olga Patricia’s identity:
From it was built in 1944, the Olga had several identities according to Lloyds Registry:
3.AKL 2 Deal(Doing service in the Korean War, not in Vietnam)
8.Earl J.Conrad Jr.(Fishing vessel of Zapata Haynie Inc.)
Lloyds Registry on the Earl J.Conrad, jr. 1983.
John Cronnolly’s research, dated April 7th, 1983. But Reedsville is not in Ohio, but Reedville in Virginia! From Monitor magazine.
Former SRE ”Boss Jock” Rick Randall has written a great song, recorded by former Radio Caroline South dj Keith ”Keefers” Hampshire where they wonder about the fate of the former radio ship!
Where the Heck is the Olga Patricia?
There once was a ship that was destined to be
A famous, mysterious ship of the sea
It sailed from a port in the south US
To take part in a plan to invade, can you guess?
A storm the first night sent a sound and a fright
Through the hull with a crash and a shudder
When the mast it did fall with antennae and all
As the ship rocked about on her rudder
So the trip took a turn as the world would then learn
And made stops for repairs in a hurry
First the Azores and then to Lisbon to mend
As the boss paid the bills with a worry
Portugal, it was nice and the crew once or twice
Toured the town and drank down with the best
It took two weeks, or three, to get back out to sea
And head north --- was it east, south or west?
The day finally came when the wind and the rain
In the North Sea were met by those bad boys
There were Yanks, and some Blokes, and a Aussie with jokes
Would would soon file the air with their noise
Radio Caroline, and well, yet another – Big “L”
That were just off the Felix Stowe sea shore
When the “Boss Jocks” arrived with their fast talk and jive
They would soon play their music, and “much more”
This ship it was true, with not one sound, but two
But not destined to be there for too long
For on land was a fight, about what’s wrong and what’s right
And the law would soon silence their sea-song
With the Maritime Act it would simply be fact
That the days we remember are past us
The American sound that was heard in London town
Would die out, though the memory would last us
Here we gather again to look back with a grin
To a time that we faintly remember
A tale that was born with the sound of a horn
On a ship that is vaguely familiar
So here’s to the lady we loved and we knew
Was her name...Bonnie, or Jenny?
Oh yeah, I recall, it was Olga, ya’ll
A friend who is gone with our memory
For now nowhere we see is our old friend at sea
There are stories we just can not follow
They weave plots with no clues, like a clown with no shoes
CIA...Laissez Faire...all sound hollow
What happened when the fun, it was all said and done
And the boat and her crew they did sever
Did she sail off in fright to mysterious night
Or sink to the bottom forever?
There is no end that we know to this story, and so
The truth may never to told her
How the real story ends, or if destiny bends
Around Olga as we all grow older
Let’s call out the Air Force, the Navy, and then
Let’s call out the Army militia
We’ve all got to know, before we all go
Where the Heck, is the Olga Patricia?
The ”cousin radio ship” Galaxy finally sank in Kiel in 1986. But is the Olga Patricia torn up or at the bottom of the sea?Not at all!
A mix-up by Lloyd's
Let us now turn to an apparent mix-up by Lloyd's Registry(see 1983 entry above). This is strange, as the facts are:
1. After the Don Carlos identity, Lloyds links the Earl J.Conrad jr. to the radio ship Laissez Faire
2. Lloyds links the USS Deal FS-263/AG-131/AKL-2 to a radio ship called the Olga Princess. (This ship cannot be documented anywhere, except that in an 80s interview Don Pierson referred to the "Olga Princess" as a sister of the Olga Patricia. Could that have been the Star 5-0 or the Titan?(See Other Ships?-below)
3. As mentioned above, on a good resolution pic of the soon-to-be radio ship Olga Patricia from March, 1966, Miami on the port side of the bow the USN designation AG-131 is distinguishable.
4. It is well established that in 1966, the radio ship Olga Patricia changed name to Laissez Faire, seemingly because it needed re-registration. That first happened in Panama with the call sign HPUY(retained 2nd time)and then the ship was registered in Puerto Cortes, Honduras, unknown call letters.(1967?)
But also in the 80s the harbour master of Haynie Products, later Zapata Haynie Inc., and now Omega Protein Inc of Reedville, VA., has confirmed that their ship had been used as a radio station, but since it was now a fishing ship and all equipment had been removed, he could offer no more information.
Then the US Coast Guard listing for the Earl J.Conrad jr.:
Another question mark may be put down here as apparently the ex-Deal had a length of 177 ft, whilst the USCG lists the Earl J.Conrad jr. with 166 ft. But please continue reading!
Any presentation should be balanced, and I have really attempted this, but in this case: Enough question marks!
For, as I can reveral in this edition: I now have proof: The former USS Deal, later the radio ship ”Olga Patricia” IS now the Earl J.Conrad jr of Reedville, Virginia.
Omega Protein Inc. operates several menhaden fishing boats line up which each day line up at the last remaining menhaden processing plant at Cockrell's Creek, in Reedville, Va. The oil from menhaden, a small, bony fish, is used to make dietary supplements.
Menhaden swim in tight schools. A large menhaden fishing boat may encircle the school with a net. It then sends out two small boats which take the ends of the nets and surround the schools which feed on the surface in a tight formation. Menhaden fishing is also done from smaller boats. Sometimes they use airplanes to spot the schools of fish from the air.
As Lloyd’s connected the Laissez Faire identity to the Earl J.Conrad jr of Haynie Products(Inc.) of Reedville, VA (later Zapata Haynie Inc., and now Omega Protein Inc.)and a company representative in the 80s confirmed they had the radio ship, I started an internet research-on this ship, and generally on menhaden fishing! This put me in contact with quite a few people from Reedville, VA and the State of Virginia. Here are some main points of that process:
Input from Omega Protein
In early 2007 I was lucky to get in touch with Mike Wilson of the Omega Protein wharf in Louisiana. I sent him a couple of pictures of the Olga Patricia as a radio ship in 1966. Mike replied:
“I'd say it's certainly a sistership to the Conrad. There were literally hundreds of Design #381 boats built during the war years (1942-1945), it would be pure luck if the Conrad and Olga are the same boat. The Conrad was built in 1944 in Whitestone, New York, her official number is 547733...if that matches the Olga then it's the same boat. Your can request an abstract of title from the USCG vessel documentation office (on-line) and it will show the heritage of the vessel and it's various names.
We recently located and bought another boat, also a sistership of the 381 design, and converted her to a menhaden fishing vessel. This boat was originally the Croyance and later Earl Bull Sheppard, built at Ingals Shipyard, Decatur, AL in 1944. It will be leaving for Reedville next week and will fish in the Atlantic next year.” Mike also added a picture of the converted ship:
The converted Croyance/Earl Bull Sheppard 2007, now the Smuggler’s Point. ©Mike Wilson, Omega Protein Inc.
Input from Richmond Times-Dispatch
Also in early 2007 I contacted the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper to see if they had photos relating to the menhaden ships and possble the Earl J Conrad jr. They supplied these interesting pictures from 1980 and 1983:
John S Dempster(left), Tangier Island(#2),(Does anybody have info which boat is #3, front?)Newspaper text: Menhaden fishing Boats are lined up at the Zapata-Haynie Inc. Docks at Reedville in the Northern Neck Story? T-D Photo by Brad Cavedo May 4, 1980. ©Richmond Times-Dispatch. Used by permission.
The Reedville(left,?) Smith Island(FS-216)(right).Newspaper text: Menhaden boat(?) Photographer? Story: Watermen, industry...by Albert Oetgen. Nov 15th/28th, 1982. ©Richmond Times-Dispatch. Used by permission.
From Captain George Schneider
Mike Wilson of Omega put me in touch with FS/AKL expert Capt. George Schneider of Southern California in 2007:
The Lancaster, 1983.©George Schneider. Used by permission.
The defunct Mance Lassiter, 1983.©George Schneider. Used by permission.
The Great Wicomico(FS-227), 1983. ©George Schneider. Used by permission.
Inputs from the Northern Neck and Virginia
The next person who answered to my queries was Ms. Susan Rager. On her business page (Northern Neck of VA Law Page) she has posted some great pictures on the web from the Reedville area, among them some of the boats of Omega Protein. The first one I came across was the sister ship of the Earl J Conrad jr, the Smith Island ,ex FS-216. She was most helpful and sent me the following information early 2007:
Ms. Rosalie Beasley was next. She and her husband have a sailboat and are often cruising the waves of Virginia waters. On their voyages they have been to Reedville several times and have posted quite a few menhaden boats pictures on their webpage. She followed by allowing several pictures to be used for this essay. As time permits, they will be posted via two different links.
Bay Weekly contact
In October 2007 I also wrote the BayWeekly of Annapolis, MD, and the contact became fruitful in mid-January 2008, as Contributing Writer, Ben Miller wrote:
Now, here were important leads that I’ll come back to below. But first:
Found at the wharf!
I sent an email to the photographer of the Shearwater, Jeff Turner, at Lyons Shipyard in Norfolk, VA, explaining my case, also taking into account the first picture of the Earl J Conrad jr in its present form posted on the web. It was photographed in August last year in Norfolk, VA by Marc Piché, VerchŹres, Québec, Canada.
A particular question had come to my mind. In addition I remembered Captain William Somers comments to journalist Ben Miller(above):
“I am particularly interested in a sister ship of the Shearwater, namely the Earl J Conrad(FS-263/AKL-2), also of Omega Protein.(Slightly different conversion than the FS-411!)
And maybe it was on the way to/from Lyons??
I wonder if you or any at the wharf could help with the following:
There seems to be a name or inscription hidden under the Earl J Conrad name on the bow? Seems also she has been given a new plate or piece under the name. (By enlarging the (Norfolk, VA)picture even inverting the colours I am not sure whether I see a "V" or a "W" and spaces followed by another "V" and maybe an "E"?)
Also, I have a source that says:
The old name can still be seen on the stern
There may be a plaque in the engine room of some of the Omega boats (but source) isn't sure if there is one on this one.
If the old ship's bell exists it may reveal an identification, too.
It might be important for my research if these questions could be resolved.
Maybe Lyons also have good resolution photos of the Conrad or any Omega boat while they eventually visited you?”
This was the start of a most fruitful process, as ©Jeff Turner kindly informed me he expected the Earl J Conrad jr back in late winter. This was to materialize on April 9th, 2008 at 12 noon local. Jeff has submitted many pictures of the Earl J Conrad and many of its sister ships. Let’s start with 18 of them for this edition. Please respect the Copyright holders!
The USS Deal became the radio ship Olga Patricia, and is now the menhaden fishing vessel Earl J.Conrad, so based on Lloyds of 1983(corrected by this writer) and other sources here is a list of known identities of AKL-2 USS Deal, aka Olga Patricia, aka Laissez Faire aka Earl J Conrad jr:
The editor was happy to be invited to the Swinging Radio England Reunion ”Still Swinging” at the Hilton, 32 Curzon Street and the Red Lion in London’s Mayfair district, May 12th-13th, 2006.
On May 12th, 2006 in Room 605 of the London Hilton, we find (l-r)Grey Pierson, son of the late Don Pierson, and SRE "Boss Jocks" Rick Randall and Larry Dean, with radio historian from Norway, your proud editor in-between. ©Derek Burroughs archive. More of the editor’s pictures from this event may be found here.
At the Radio Day at the Casa 400 in Amsterdam in November 2007 the editor was happy to moderate the Swinging Radio England panel together with Stuart Aiken.
The SRE-panel at Radio Day in Amsterdam 2007: Stuart Aiken, w. Bob Wood.
More pictures from the event may be found here. All these pictures ©Dr. Martin van der Ven
Want more information on Radio England, sister and cousin stations? Go here!
Addendum 3: Other ships?!
The full Olga Patricia story is a difficult one to map.
And the following creates even more questions:
Where do two ships looking exactly like the Olga spotted in Miami in Spring of 1966 fit in, one called the Titan and one the Star 5-0? Was any of these The "real" Olga Princess?(See above)
The Star 5-0 from Florida Lines tied up at a dock looks just like the Olga Patricia. Picture also shows NASSAUNP underneath which may refer to Nassau in the Bahamas or something else. This might be the ship which Don Pierson once remarked became the Olga Princess. ©Derek Burroughs archive.
The Titan also looks like the Olga Patricia and it is tied up at dock. ©Derek Burroughs archive.
The Titan in dock from another angle but being loaded by a fork lift with the Hillman on the deck. On the back it says "Titan showing all four booms". ©Derek Burroughs archive.
Don Pierson was a car dealer for Hillman in Texas and once remarked he took his Hillman on board. Here is Don's Hillman car on board the Titan at dock and on the back of the photo it says: "Titan taken from the bridge forward." Someone (maybe Don) can be seen in the faded part at the top extreme left looking down at the hold. The other people are all Black/Hispanic in both shots and they are either crew or dockside workers. Was the Titan planned as a tender to the Olga Patricia as SRE/BR? Or was it considered for the broadcasting operation? ©Derek Burroughs archive.
Merrill-Stevens Yachts document from December, 1965 about the Titan. ©Derek Burroughs archive.
Where does the Merrill-Stevens document that Grey Pierson has uncovered listing the Olga as being in Miami since May, 1965 bearing the name ”ALGR PATRICIA” fit in?
Merrill-Stevens Yachts (owned by Merrill-Stevens Drydock Co.) prospectus for a former Navy ship for sale in South Florida. Photo from the Pierson family collection, kindly provided by ©Grey Pierson. Used by permission.
Addendum 4: A surprising development: Radio Galleon.
At the Radio England Reunion in May, 2006, Radio 355 presenter Mark Sloane© presented a bunch of very interesting documents describing a fascinating 1968 offshore twin radio project off Florida for the USA and Bahamas(but UK funded): Radio Galleon. And the ship to be used was the “Laissez Faire”/”Olga Patricia”. The Radio London ship “Galaxy” was also on offer.
The documents are as follows:
*3 pages ship documents.
*2 pages bill from Dade Drydock dated April 26th, 1968. to owner B.Goodman, agent.
*8 pages(incl attachments) of Galleon Communications meeting June 18th, 1968, draft finished June 26th, 1968.
Location: Upper Grosvenor Street, London W1.
Present: Col. D.S.Richard
Colin GN Campbell, Esq.
Tim Proctor, Esq
(plus Mark Sloane and Anne)
Short extract of meeting:
Benny Goodman has offered the Laissez Faire.
Mark has planned programming for Bahamas based station with one Florida and one Bahamas station from the vessel.
Colin Campbell has had an input from Jim Reed whilst in New York the week before and was there offered the Galaxy.
Col.Richard says about his contact with B.Goodman:
Latter says he owns the boat with 3 partners, will have legal title on July 5. He will crew-up the boat and bring it to the UK if they so wish.
Has put in a new 50 kW transmitter.
Boat clear of all mortgages
Price as is $500000.
They are also willing to lease with crew and djs.
Partnership, putting boat in for an unspecified equity share.
-B.Goodman should not be told of Bahamas location, but he will be very keen when he learns this.
Col. Richard thinks B.Goodman does not own ship but acts for a number of shareholders.
Leasing not on, only purchase or partnership.
Will pay maximum $300000.
*3 pages evaluation of radio equipment MV Laissez Faire dated June 24th, 1968(by Mark Sloane, reflecting the situation in August, 1967?)*
*Letter to Mark Sloane from Col. Richard at 20/21 C Kipling Bldg, Freeport, Grand Bahama Island. Dated Aug.6th, 1968. Terms for Mark and Anne. Reference to one Jean in UK, Richard's wife? Expects to meet Texan group "next week".
*Letter to Mark from Col. Richard. Dated Aug.6th, 1968. (High priority and) confidential. Have been in contact with the Texans through Mike Barrell. Pringle's connection with them is only third hand. Pringle wanted to buy the boat himself for $200000.
And then a most interesting note:
Philip Burch(!)has made enquiries for purchasing the Galaxy as a radio ship, location unknown. $225000 needed for seagoing order.
Texans will sell Galaxy?? to Galleon for same price. Not partnership but mortgage, $60000 with the balance over 5 years at 71/2/8%.
Richard now asks Mark if Burch(!)has learnt of the project because of June meeting and enquieries.
Is PB also going Bahamas or does he want some other location?
Any news of finance?
Jean not leaving London until Aug.14th, 1968.
Obviously the project fell through after this.
Does any reader have any more info on
or any of the other names?
(Is there any possibility that these persons would be agents of Don Pierson and/or Pierce Langford III?)
 ©Derek Burroughs archive.
 An island off the coast of Maryland.
 Earlier, the ident had been found to be FP263, printing error?
 On September 22, 1945, the 5th Marine Division landed at Sasebo, and in June 1946, U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo was formally established. When war broke out in Korea four years later, Sasebo became the main launching point for the United Nations and U.S. Forces. Millions of tons of ammunition, fuel, tanks, trucks and supplies flowed through Sasebo on their way to U.N. Forces in Korea. The number of American military personnel in Sasebo grew to about 20,000. After the Korean War ended, U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo continued to support ships of the U.S. Seventh Fleet. Service Force ships as well as mine craft also made Sasebo their homeport. U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo provided heavy support to the expanded Seventh Fleet during the following years of war in Southeast Asia.
 The story of the ship being used to carry the bodies of GI's killed in Korea back to the USA during the Korean war cannot be confirmed.
These data found under Deal in Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships are partly different, and may be the original ones: AG-131: dp. 520; l. 177'; b. 33'; dr. 10'; s. 13 k.; cpl. 26; cl. Camano.
One source says: ”...as a 480 ton landing craft 186 feet long.”
 Later, Les Wright would add these comments about the Deal and the Pueblo: When the Pueblo was captured, Time Magazine showed a small ship photo with their coverage of the incident; the ship in the photo looked like an AKL and had the hull number 2 (the Deal's, of course...the photo I saw in Time was DEFINITELY the Deal...very "officious", hence its retention somewhere in Navy files and its availability to Time Magazine.)...Later, with the "invention" of the Internet, pro, I searched for Pueblo vs. The Deal, got information that said the Pueblo was not the Deal, etc. That inquiry is how you came to contact me....
 More about USS "Hewell" as well as AKL-25(Banner, later an AGER) and AKL-28 Brule(later a Texas Tower tender and even later in "Brownwater Navy", Vietnam)At
there is a chapter called
Life at Sea on the Amy J
This is from
”FS's - The Little Ships That Could”. A history of the campaign in the Pacific and the personal experiences of the Author on the U.S. Army FS-268. By George P. Alton, 2000(2524 Longview Dr. San Leandro, CA 94577. Phone number (510) 351-6869.)
(The Amy J(-268)later went to the Philippines as "Virginia VI")
In this text, the author says.
If one saw the movie, "Mr. Roberts," filmed sometime after the war, it was made on an FS as was its sequel, "Ensign Pulver." So the AKL-14, the Hewell was used for two movies! (But at least in the first movie, only the exterior of the ship.) As is believed in some quarters that the AKL-17, New Bedford(now the Sea Bird) did the movie(s). Les Wright maintains that it DEFINITELY did not! Les continues: “Most of the crew of the AKL-14 Hewell appears in the movie including the XO, Bob Carpenter. The only reason the Captain didn't, he was at least 6'5" tall and hardly a match for James Cagney. Hence, the Cagney "stand-in" was CWO McChesney. When I later was sent to be XO in a ship stationed at New York Naval Shipyard (Brooklyn) I ran into Bosun McChesney in the Officers Club and listened jealously as he recounted the Mr. Roberts experience.”
 Sister ship USS Elba was built only 3 weeks after USS Deal at Wheeler's in Whitestone, NY. The Army (AT)fs-markings used a different system it seems. On the actual picture one can also see the radio antenna for 500/2182 kHz etc. and the Mil Freqs, surely a flattop type! After Navy service, the Elba went to Dept. of Interior 1951.Photo Courtesy of Ken Laessar.
 ©Derek Burroughs archive.
 Street address: 777 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.
 ©OFFSHORE ECHOS #126 May 2002 Interview with Larry Dean By Steve England.
 ©OFFSHORE ECHOS #143, March, 2006. Interview with Rick Randall By Steve England.
 Jerry Smithwick in ©OFFSHORE ECHOS #118.
 Contrasts with information given by Rick Randall, 2006.
 Rick Randall has in mind what then was called the 25 de Abril Bridge. It was completed just before the Olga Patricia arrived and originally named after dictator Salazar, this suspension bridge across the Tagus River changed its name after the revolution of April 25, 1974. It is still a spectacular sight from any direction, with an overall length of 2278m (approx. 1.5 miles), and the longest central span in Europe (1013m/3323ft), longer than San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, which it resembles. Its foundations also hold the world record by going 80m (262ft) below the riverbed to stand on basalt rock.
 ©Rick Randall, September 2006.
 ©John England: “Much More Music! The story of Don Pierson a broadcasting pioneer.” ©OFFSHORE ECHO’S #82, August 1990.
 ©Rick Randall, February 2006.
 Per Sweden Calling DX-ers, 1968. There was also talk of other opportunities in SCDX and ”Eter-Aktuellt” for the ”Galaxy” as
1.Investors in New Zealand wanted to create a competitor to Radio Hauraki. Later this project became a land-based station, Radio “i” 1590 kc.
2.Madagascar was mentioned but with an unknown use.
 ©Derek Burroughs archive.
 Moshe Dayan’s spokesman’s telegram said "No thank you."
 Seemingly exiles from the former Portugese colony enclave Goa.
 ”United Nations New York
Jully 19, 1967
Dear Mr. Pierson,
This will acknowledge your letter of July 12 to the Secretary-General.
While thanking you for your communication, I am directed to say that the United Nations, under its terms of reference, cannot avail itself of the suggestion put forward by you.
G. L. Obhrad
Office of Public Information”(Gilder)
 Armstrong declined because the UK threatened to close his British campus if he accepted.(Gilder)
 “United States Information Agency
July 21, 1967
Dear Mr. Pierson:
Leonard Marks has asked me to reply to your letter of July 12.
We at VOA have watched with interest the fortunes of the floating radio stations off the British coast in recent years. As you note, it does appear that Britisih legislation is about to end this colorful footnote to the history of international broadcasting.
We very much appreciate the thought that prompted your offer of these ships to USIA, but regretfully we must decline. The possibilities are intriguing, but they are heavily out-weighed by negative factors including legal, political and budgetary problems.
Many thanks for your interest in the Voice of America, and best wishes for a successful solution to your problem.
Richard G. Cushing
Acting Assistant Director
 "Last Voyage of A Musical Pirate" by Joan Brazer.
 Was this missionary tied to Trans World Radio and does this explain why the transmitters got to Africa? ©Derek Burroughs archive.
 From existing documentation, it would seem that there was a suit in 1969/1970 with the transmitter company versus Worldwide Investments. There was also one brought by William Vick as plaintiff because he was claiming unpaid wages. (He was a mere front man in the early days following the same pattern established for Philip Birch of Radio London.)©Derek Burroughs archive.
 Was this missionary tied to Trans World Radio and does this explain why the transmitters got to Africa? ©Derek Burroughs archive.
 Rick Crandall(lyrics) and Keith(Keefers)Hampshire(vocal) 2006 recording© with a new version of “The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”, originally recorded in 1976 by Gordon Lightfoot, Reprise Records.©
 Dave MacKay on the Steve England Radio England tape, mentions a mothball situation for the Olga in Miami until 1970, and then a new radio ship period off Vietnam(For AFVN or as a clandestine radio station? And is it possible that this story as well as stories about Vietnam body bags relate to the history of the Olga Princess?–Editor. But Any AFVN, American Forces Vietnam Network work is unlikely per Trent Christman’s book: “Brass Button Broadcasters”, p.127-131,133.(Turner Publishing, Paducah. Ky., 1992) –Editor. For some clandestine radio stuff, see
Per USCG vessel documentation office
 More information here:
 More about the history of the Shearwater and a sister ship the Smith Island(FS-216), may be found in the document about USAT 73rd Transportation Company: http://www.transchool.eustis.army.mil/LIC/documents/73rd%20Trans%20Co.doc.
 ”A total of 318 coastal freighters, known as F (for Freight) or FS (for Freight Supply) boats, were built for the U.S. Army by 25 small shipbuilders, notably Higgins Industries, in New Orleans LA, and Wheeler Shipbuilding, in Whitestone NY. Most were of steel but some were of wood. The early models were only about 100 feet long, but the bulk of the fleet was 180 feet. Many were operated by the Coast Guard and some were transferred to the Navy as AKLs. After the war many were transferred overseas, but large numbers are unaccounted for. Many in the Pacific Theater were probably abandoned: as with many other small ship types, it wasn't economical to bring them home. If anyone knows of the whereabouts or final fate of an FS that's not already reported, please e-mail Tim Colton of http://www.shipbuildinghistory.com
 Lists of hull numbers and names of AKL ships may be found here:
 The "real" Olga Princess MAY have been the TITAN originally the FS 188. (She became Farrell Lines' AFRICAN GUIDE, then TITAN, then SEA VENTURE in 1968.) OR,
the STAR 5-0 previously AKL 20, originally FS 193, which became the Bahamas flag MEREGHAN IV. Spotted Miami 1964-1965? Both ships were in the Pierson interest sphere for a while. But neither of these ships seems to have been converted to fishing vessels.
 This is a name never noted before in connection with neither the Olga Patricia or the Galaxy, editor.
 This seems strange, as it seems the two Continental transmitters were in full working order when the Olga Patricia left Europe, editor.