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?


Ship details.


Homing in on the Olga Patricia in May, 1966. Photo from the Pierson family collection, kindly provided by ©Grey Pierson.


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[1].


The Olga Patricia was originally called ”Deal”.[2]


The Deal was built in 1944 for the Army as USAT FS-263[3] by Wheeler Shipbuilding Corp., Whitestone, Long Island, N.Y.[4]; delivered to the US Army Transportation Service.


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[5].


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[6]-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[7], 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[8], 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[9].



Displacement 550 t.

Length 177'

Beam 33'

Draft 10'

Speed 12 kts.

Complement 42

Propulsion two 500hp GM Cleveland Division 6-278A 6-cyl V6 diesel engines, twin screws.


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:


"I noticed today that North Korea has decided not to return the Pueblo. Hadn't thought about that ship in many years. In 1968 Newsweek in conjunction with its reporting published a picture of the Pueblo that certainly looked like the USS Deal AKL-2 ( I am a former XO in the Deal). The picture I see today on your websight looks somewhat different, but your request for information mentions a USS Banner which I'm sure was an AKL operating in the Solomons (I think in the 50's). I also noticed a letter from one who worked on the Pueblo's conversion (?) in Bremerton -- the Deal was decommisioned in 1955 (I had been reassigned but received an invitation to the party) in Bremerton.


Anyhow, would like to know if the Deal is the Pueblo, and if it is and the Association would like an 8X10 glossy of the Deal entering Sasebo harbor in 1952 after delivering ammunition to the Marines in Inchon, its theirs for the asking.


Les Wright


Portland, OR[11]"


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:


Subject: The Les Wright you are seeking


One and the same. Consider yourself contacted, per your request!


Les W


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:


Happy to help; my almost two years with the Deal (starting, as reportedly the youngest Ensign in the U.S. Navy, and maybe 5 days later as its second in command) are among the happiest of my life. I can probably locate the photo,... It has been many years since my last contact with any fellow crew members, and I have no record of those. I could probably put together a rather lengthy "tale of experiences";…


Now,…a U.S. movie produced about 1954 entitled "Mr. Roberts" was filmed in Hawaii using the USS Hewell[12] (FS-391/AG-145/AKL-14). She was a sister ship, of course, along with the Sharps(AG-139/AKL-10) and Estero(AG-134/AKL-5). It was rumored that the Deal was to get that assignment, but at the time of "need" for the movie, we were held over in the Philippines in the event we were needed to evacuate the French from their misfortune at Din Bihn Phu. Alas, no movie for us. A year or two later, I ran into one of the officers from the 14 at the club in Brooklyn and got a full read-out of their "adventure".


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:


I did find (a pic of the Deal). The picture was taken entering Sasebo harbor most likely in 1954; you will be able to read the call-flags, but if not: N(nan), P(Peter), B(Baker), G(George).You will see no "people" because the "flag" had ordered NO PERSONNEL visible,... 


I once found records of the AKL-2’s drydocking in Hawaii, I think, during which her bottom was declared "unfit for sea" but during a drydocking in Yokosuka during my tenure, I couldn't detect any remediation: In fact it bothered me a great deal during the two typhoons I experienced with her!


Now, I could write pages and pages about my experiences in the Deal,… related to my duties aboard as Executive Officer, Navigation Officer, Operations Officer, CIC Officer,(etc.); as you may know, on small ships one normally has many duties!! We made many trips: the Philippines, Korea, Formosa, every island of Japan and, of course Hong Kong. On the runs back to Sasebo from Manila or Subic Bay, we would ALWAYS develop engine trouble that would necessitate putting in to Hong Kong to fix the problems ... Aside from regular trips resupply the Marines in Korea (hostilities had ceased) with food, ammunition, material, beer to a seaplane base in Hokkaido, a fuel-tanker trailer (secured topside across the two cargo hold covers) to Chiang Kai Shek in Formosa etc., we basically carried ANYTHING that needed shipping in quantities too small to justify the larger AK's:..etc.


Have taken a bit of a detailed look, and am quite fascinated. You and yours have done much research. I am amazed at the extent of your research. You are REALLY SERIOUS about this endeavor. I continue to be totally fascinated by the "reappearance" of that ship in my life. What an absolutely great time I had as the youngest Ensign, pushing that old vessel to all the great ports in the Far East. I have often said it was maybe the happiest two years of my life! This entire episode is a fun

reminder of a truly, totally rewarding two years of my life.

 I think the photo I sent today will be…helpful in that you will have a very good likeness of her during her Korean War duty…I could call your attention to many differences between the aforementioned photo and those you have sent herein. A noticeable structure will appear on the upper deck aft: the "box" (where a gun mount appears in the blueprint/plans herein) is quarters for the deck crew; other quarters were forward (forecastle). There are other differences, but not as noteworthy.


(I) spent the first 4 years of my time as an XO (and I was offered command of my second ship if I would stay). I loved the Navy,…I cannot remember the enlisted count, but the officer complement comprised: Captain (Lt.) XO (Ensign, who became LTJG during his tour); CW Engineman: Engineering Officer; CW Boatswain (First Lt., Gunnery, Cargo)…These guys are totally memorable to me;

real WWII combat veterans, almost twice my age, and me their 21-year old XO, and they watched me, taught me, advised me, and made sure I didn't fail while I learned my job. I loved them and the others on my next ship (where I had the same job and officer mix).


We went (often) to the Philippines and Okinawa. My "time" was 9/53 to about 12/55, and the hostilities had ceased in 7/53; we occasionally had to take notice of floating mine sightings enroute to Inchon or Pusan, which we encountered on only one occasion.

The Deal was one (and definitely the least) of a 4-ship column sent to the northern Japanese Island of Hokkaido, city of Hakodate to take part in the centennial celebration of the landing of Adm. Perry in 1954. For part of one day, I (as an Ensign on that little ship) was the group Navigator; recommending course changes to the heavy cruiser Helena was cool!! Guess that's why I remember such things.


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)[13], its on the port… I suppose the builders just put it wherever!!


And then it is over to


Leslie W. Wright

Executive Officer

USS Deal AKL-2

Sasebo Japan

Sept. 1953-Jan. 1955 (approx.)


The following are my recollections, in no particular order and with no subject guidance or limitations, of my tour in the Deal, as requested.


The Deal was one of four AKL’s ported in a major Japanese shipyard in Sasebo Japan. We moored in what was said to be the drydock where the Yamato was built. The AKL’s were small cargo ships consigned to moving any cargo too small for the larger AK’s to destinations more or less anywhere, although in my time with the Deal we never ventured beyond  such  Far East locations as Subic Bay, Manila, Pusan, Inchon, Formosa, Okinawa and all major Japanese islands. R&R stopovers in Hong Kong were frequent.


The Officer complement comprised (usually): a Lieutenant as Commanding Officer; an Ensign as Executive Officer, Navigator, Operations Officer, and on and on (he was usually promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade (Ltjg.) during his 18 mo. AKL tour; a Chief Engineman Warrant Officer as Engineering Officer, Damage Control Officer, and on and on as well; a Chief Boatswain Warrant Officer as Deck Officer, Cargo Officer, Gunnery Officer, and also on and on. There was also a Korean Ensign aboard from time to time for training purposes.


I arrived in the Deal a few days after finishing Navy Officer Candidate School (the youngest Ensign of some 350+ at 21 years and a few days). I had had no on-board or at-sea training, and had never before set foot on a craft larger than a ChrisCraft 12 footer.  Less than a week later, I was navigating the Deal to Inchon with a full load of ammo for the marines and standing deck watches, not to mention being the Exec (second in command). Quite an awakening, made much easier because of the warrants, bloodied WWII veterans, twice my age, who might have been resentful of my position, but were quite the opposite. They became my mentors; they, and the others that followed them were the best lot of men I have known. (I joked with those guys that the only reason they took care of me was because I was the only man on the ship that could navigate celestially, which was true!)


Our AKL’s stayed very busy. Ammunition runs to the Marines in Korea were regular. After that, it was whatever needed to be delivered. We once carried both cargo holds full of nothing but beer; for weeks after that, I was turning up empty beer cans during impromptu inspections of remote spaces. Another time, we carried nothing but the equivalent of KoolWhip (artificial whipped cream) to a seaplane base at one of the northern Japanese islands. We carried a propeller shaft for a 2200- ton destroyer (damned thing almost capsized us) to a repair facility in Okinawa; the skipper of the tin can had run on rocks attempting to pull a Chinese junk off the rocks; his Navy career was over. Strapped across the top of both hatch covers, we delivered a gasoline tanker to Gen. Chang  (can’t spell his last name) in Formosa. That really did present a stability problem. For several months, we made regular provisioning runs to a commercial freighter that had run aground (up to midships) on a small island off Korea. It took a seasonal change before that ship could be dislodged.  A lighter pursuit involved being part of a 4-ship column sent to Hakodate to be part of the centennial commemoration of the landing of Commodore Perry (1854). We (the Deal) must have been quite a sight bringing up the rear behind, if memory serves, the cruisers Helena, Manchester and a destroyer. I was the only Ensign invited to the official festivities … being and Executive Officer had privileges!


During my time in the Deal we experienced  two very serious typhoons, one in the Philippines and the other off the coast of Formosa (Taiwan now, of course). That island is roughly 70 miles long; for the better part of three days we could see it to port while trying to proceed north and making turns for 10-12 knots. We were standing still. Other eventful moments were few, a challenge from a Chinese gunboat that claimed we ventured too far east on a return from Inchon; accidental minor flooding of a hold containing ammunition. That turned out fine for me; the ammunition was 45 caliber and couldn’t be reused, except that I confiscated it and for the rest of my tour had plenty for my tin-can target practice with my Thompson submachine gun, a favorite off-duty enjoyment. At one time I had photos taken by a crew member of me at that “work”.


Korean hostilities had ceased shortly before I arrived in the Deal. But according to the logbooks, all the AKL’s were kept busy supporting the effort. I remember one entry in the Deal’s log that described her being lashed to the seaward side of one of the battleships, the Missouri perhaps, and crew of the Deal handing 5 inch 38 shells to gunners on the battleship for immediate use in a coastal bombardment .


I might add that should a reader wish to see an AKL in action, there are still many copies of the movie “Mr. Roberts” in circulation for this purpose. The movie was filmed in Hawaii in 1954 using a sister-ship, the Hewell AKL-14. Mr. Roberts was a very popular Broadway stage show, and a very popular movie. It was the first movie for the actor  Jack  Lemmon, who won Hollywood”s “Oscar” for best supporting actor.


I left the Deal to take the same jobs I had in the Deal in a ship operating on the USA's east coast; the USS Portunus ARC-1, homeported in Brooklyn, New York.


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:


January 8, 1963 = OLGA PATRICIA = Registered in Columbia. Represented in Galveston by Hansen And Tidemann. Chartered by AD S. Cargo Ltd. of Miami. Status: in dry dock at Galveston.
February 26, 1963 = Sea trials out of Galveston.
February 27, 1963 = In Galveston dry dock again.
March 7, 1963 = At Pier 20, Galveston. Shortly after (March 9th, 1963) it is ”met” by a former Texan-owned Swedish radio ship, the Bon Jour, coming back from its European stint. Who would know on this day that just over 3 years later, the two ships would be radio ship colleagues in the North Sea, the Bon Jour then called-Mi Amigo!
March 10, 1963 = Olga Patricia cleared to sail.
May 4, 1963 = Olga Patricia back in Galveston dry dock.
May 5, 1963 = At Pier 19, Galveston.
May 8, 1963 = Moved to Pier 30 South.
Mary 11, 1963 = Olga Patricia on open sea to Miami and Biscayne Harbor. Ship owned by Florida Lines. Built in 1944 at Long Beach, California.
1966 = Represented in Dade County, Florida, Port of Miami by Harrington Lines (305) 358-5621


Then these documents from Panama authorities dated Aug.11th, 1964(with the Olga Patricia name) and Feb.15th, 1966[14]:


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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.



177ft. Length;



Rigged on March 21, 1966. With permanent antenna mast atop the existing mainmast for radio broadcasting at sea. Heights above deck: mainmast stub: 37ft., Antenna mast 123ft. Total Height: 160ft. Job accomplished by Dade Drydock Corporation, Miami[15].”



Map from©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 link for a 1972 local map of the area:



Dodge Island and Biscayne Blvd. in Miami today from the versatile© system



Satellite photo of Dodge Island and Biscayne Blvd. today shown on the fabulous Google Earth© system.  Why not download the free version at





Dade Drydock Coporation[16], 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.


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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.


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Dade Drydock Coporation, Miami, Florida Spring 1966: The mv Olga Patricia and the transmitting mast II ©Derek Burroughs archive.


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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[17]) 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[18]) 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...”[19]


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[20]. 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[21]. 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…”[22]



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[23].


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.[24]


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[25].


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.[26]




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.



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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[27] 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[28], Iraq, India[29], Taiwan, Norway(!) and the United Nations[30]. It also almost ended up with Herbert W. Armstrong[31]. The most positive reaction came from the USIA, VOA[32]. 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[33] 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.[34]


"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.


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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.


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©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:


"A silent vessel lies docked in Miami. Two hundred and eighty tons of what was once a "pirate" radio ship was until recently a prisoner, held by federal orders at Albury Shipping Dock off the MacArthur Causeway….” 

"For one man in Miami, the ship remains alive. 'I was riding along MacArthur Causeway, "says WFUN radio disc jockey Larry Dean, rapping with my friends. We were talking about old times and I was telling them about the pirate radio ship I had lived on for eight months. Then I turned around, looked out the car window and there she was. I've never been so stunned in my life."


The last three paragraphs:


"Two years ago the ousted pirate radio ship made its way back to familiar waters. Upon its arrival in Miami, a suit arose between Continental Electronics Corp. and Langford Broadcasting Corp. as to who owned the vessel. The case was recently settled, and the courts gave Continental Electronics[35] possession of the radio equipment, while Langford Broadcasting was awarded the ship itself…”

"However, 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.[36] As of this writing both corporations have agreed to the negotiations underway…”

"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. Meanwhile, the Laissez Faire remains docked in Miami, its future uncertain, its past still echoing the music that once rolled across its decks."


LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01


©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.


LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01


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.

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01


Six shots of the hold of the Olga Patricia, during the outfitting in Miami, March 1966. ©Derek Burroughs archive.


LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01


LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01


LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01


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)[37]


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:


1.FP 263

2.FS 263

3.AKL 2 Deal(Doing service in the Korean War, not in Vietnam)

4.Don Carlos

5.Olga Princess

6.Laissez Faire

7.Akuarius II

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[38]?


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.[39]


Then the US Coast Guard listing for the Earl J.Conrad jr.:


Vessel Name:



US Coast Guard Doc. No.:


Vessel Service:


IMO Number:


Trade Indicator:


Call Sign:


Hull Material:


Hull Number:


Ship Builder:


Year Built:


Length (ft.):


Hailing Port:


Hull Depth (ft.):






Hull Breadth (ft.):


Gross Tonnage:


Net Tonnage:


Documentation Issuance Date:

February 15, 2006

Documentation Expiration Date:

March 31, 2007

Previous Vessel Names:

No Vessel Name Changes

Previous Vessel Owners:

No Vessel Owner Changes


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!


Enter the Earl J.Conrad jr.: From radio to fishing!


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.[41]


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, 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.


George says: “I am attaching some of the photos I took in Reedville back in 1983. The specific reason for this is because I wanted you to see the difference between the original Higgins-built FS vessels and the ones built by the other yards.  Higgins began by designing the prototype class, called Design 381.  They built about 25 of these, then lengthened them slightly and modified them to Army specifications, and this became Design 330.  Even these had the Higgins characteristics.  To my knowledge, all the Higgins-built boats had identification features that none of the others had.


All the Higgins boats appear to have a knuckled-bow, as evident in the photos of LANCASTER and GREAT WICOMICO.  By contrast, the bows of the boats from other yards were a single curve, as shown in the photo of MANCE LASSITER, and very obvious in the photo of SMUGGLERS POINT.(Note:The Earl J Conrad Jr was built by Wheeler, Whitestone, Long Island, NY-editor) 


Another difference, no longer evident after conversion to Menhaden fishing boats, is that the Higgins boats had the mast against the after house, while all the other builders positioned it between the two holds, in the center of the well deck.  This should have still been the case when your vessel sailed as OLGA PATRICIA. 


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:


“The Earl J. Conrad Jr is still part of the Omega Protein(formerly Zapata) fleet based in Reedville, Virginia. Omega Protein Inc. (confirms) they have the Earl J. Conrad Jr in their active working fleet. It was known as the Akuarius when they got it. The class of boat, according to them, is a freight ship, and they have ten boats in this class in their fleet. It is actively working at the current time, going out during the day and coming back to the docks in the evening. It was converted to a fishing boat in the late 1970s. It is possible that the sister ship the Olga Princess may be there, but the person with whom I spoke was not familiar with that name.”


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[42].


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:


“The editor of the Bay Weekly has asked me to research the fact that World War II boats are now being used by the menhaden fishing fleet. Some of them operate out of Reedville, Virginia.


I am enclosing some information from my cousin who lives in that area of Virginia and talked to the captain of the Earl J. Conrad. The information is as follows:


Earl J. Conrad Jr. was one of the first owners of Zapata Fish works. The boat was built at the Brooklyn Navy yard in 1944. Spoke to  the Captain of it now, Paul Somers of White Stone.  He doesn't know much about it's past history.  Captain Somers was very interested in what you had found. The company converted about fourteen of the ships.  The biggest change was moving the wheel house forward.  Sailors that were on the originals wouldn't recognize it as the outline is completely changed.  The holds were converted to hold fish and have plenty of piping for refrigeration.  Once they found how to convert the boats it took about six months it do one. They are very seaworthy.  The only remaining signs of being a Navy ship is a plaque in the engine room of some of the boats and he isn't sure if there is one on this one.  The old name can still be seen on the stern but he couldn't remember it.


Truly a fascinating story. Some of the other boats, now part of the menhaden fishing fleet, may have also had interesting histories.”


Now, here were important leads that I’ll come back to below. But first:



Volume 16, Issue 7 - February 14 - February 20, 2008


This Week's Features

Still Serving after All These Years

How did ships built to haul cargo in the South Pacific during World War II end up fishing for one of the sea’s smallest, but to some most important, fish?

a Bay Weekly exclusive by Ben Miller

continue reading...




The Best of the Bay ~ Every Week Since 1993


Volume 16, Issue 7 - February 14 - February 20, 2008


Still Serving after All These Years

How World War II ships came to catch Chesapeake menhaden

a Bay Weekly exclusive by Ben Miller


Mystery ships sail the lower Bay.


Their names have changed many times; their origins are often obscure.


Yet each ship has a legendary history: of war, tropical islands, foreign ports and now, fish.


Two facts are certain in these ships’ murky histories. The ships were built to haul cargo in the South Pacific during World War II. Today, more than half a century later, they are fishing boats sailing out of Reedville, Virginia.


How did these seaworthy, ocean-going ships end up fishing for one of the sea’s smallest, but to some most important, fish?


From War to Fish


The little fish is the big story in Reedville.


The big boats that catch the little menhaden have another, less familiar, story to tell.


They’re the boats that helped win the war — the big one — World War II.


That is a story well known, but not often told: how American industrial engineering and production supplied the material that helped turn the tide of war.


As tanks and airplanes poured out of manufacturing plants by the thousands, American shipyards produced destroyers, aircraft carriers, submarines and Liberty and cargo ships for the war at sea.


Many of the boats of the menhaden fishing fleet came down the ways of shipyards across America in 1943 and 1944, built as light cargo ships for the U.S. Army Transportation Service. Some sailed in the South Pacific during the war. Captained by U.S. Coast Guard officers, they supplied ports in New Guinea and the Philippines.


Others, like the menhaden fleet’s Atlantic Mist, were built as Patrol Escort Craft for the U.S. Navy.


The ships became part of the U.S. Navy’s fleet after World War II. Many served as supply ships during the Korean War. The USS Estero earned seven battle stars in that war.


Then their fates diverged. Some were transferred to the navy of South Korea. Others were sold to become merchant ships or to be taken apart for scrap. The fate of many is “disposition unknown.”


A few ships remained a part of the U.S. Navy. The USS Mark served in 10 campaigns during the Vietnam War.


The USNS New Bedford is now a tuna long-liner, the Sea Bird, operating out of San Diego, California.


Ten military ships converted to fishing boats are part of the menhaden fishing fleet out of Reedville, Virginia.


Little Fish; Big Fortunes


There is big money in menhaden.


Menhaden have been processed for fertilizer, animal food and fish oil since early in the 1800s. Since 1874, menhaden fishing in the Atlantic has centered in Reedville, on the Bay just below the Potomac River. By the turn of the 19th century, Reedville menhaden captains had built themselves a line of stately Victorian houses called Millionaires’ Row.


From menhaden, big money is still being made.


Today the Omega Protein company fishes for menhaden on an industrial scale. To Reedville’s fleet of 10 boats — formerly ships that helped win the war against Japan — Omega adds 30 more vessels fishing out of Abbeville and Cameron, Louisiana and Moss Point, Mississippi. Reedville, however, is still king. The menhaden catch makes Reedville (population 500) the second largest fishing port by weight of catch in the United States, behind Kodiak, Alaska.


For Omega, and Reedville, menhaden make a modern-day fortune. With a $47 million capital investment in Reedville, the company pays 328 employees $13.25 million in salaries and spends another $10 million on their Virginia operation each year.


The menhaden industry is “the life blood of that community,” said Omega spokesman Ben Landry.


The Harvest of Menhaden


Omega promotes itself as providing the Omega-3 fish oil capsules many of us are encouraged to take for our heart’s health. Four years ago, the company built a $14 million plant in Reedville to produce capsules that meet the human-consumption standards of the Food and Drug Administration. Omega reduction plants also produce fishmeal, high in protein, which ends up in chicken and other livestock feeds, as well as the food we give our dogs and cats; It’s also fed back to fish in fish farms.

The World War II vessel now named The Earl J. Conrad Jr. off Norfolk, Virginia, below.

Deck hands pull in the purse seine, above, with thousands of menhaden trapped in each net. The fish are offloaded with a giant suction pump, right, and stored in the ship’s hold.


As with any resource-extracting industry, there is controversy.


Maryland has spatted with Virginia over the scope of the fishery. In 2006 and 2007, Omega’s boats harvested just under 109 metric tons of menhaden from Chesapeake Bay.


Maryland environmentalists and sport fishermen fear that industrial mining of this critical link in the food chain will diminish the populations of striped bass and other game fish so valuable to the economy of the Bay. Menhaden are also filter-feeders, like oysters, still in numbers large enough to improve Bay water quality.


The Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation all express concern over a perceived decline in the number of young menhaden in the Bay.


Omega Protein says there is no problem.


“Menhaden are not being overfished,” Landry said.


The company bases this claim on fish stock assessment estimates by the National Marine Fisheries Service. In Chesapeake Bay, the company abides by the cap set for 2006-2010 by the governments of Virginia and Maryland.


“We go by science, not politics,” Landry said.


Landry stands by industry estimates that only two out of every 1,000 menhaden are caught by commercial fishing boats. “The other 998 become forage for predators,” Landry said. Bay predators include striped bass and bluefish, as well as herons, egrets, ospreys and eagles.


Predatory or not, the menhaden fishery is a large-scale industrial operation, closer to commercial tuna fishing than the small-scale fishing of independent Bay watermen.


The converted fishing boats of Reedville are “blue-water boats, fast, with fine lines, suitable for the nasty weather encountered in the Atlantic,” said Mike Wilson of Omega Protein’s shipyard in Moss Point, Mississippi. “Fishermen like them,” he said.


As the half-century-old fleet fans out into the Bay and the Atlantic, spotter planes search from the air for the schooling menhaden. Pilots look for a large, dark spot in the water overhung by wheeling gulls, indicating a huge school of fish. Alerted by the pilot, each ship closes in on the school.


The crew on the ships then lower two smaller purse boats over the side. Fishermen on the purse boats encircle the fish with a purse seine. The fish are trapped, the net is closed and drawn in by fishermen to collect the catch. Then the big boat comes alongside to pump the harvest into its refrigerated hold. Each of the old Pacific campaign boats can store up to 500 tons of fish. Finally, they chug back to Reedville, where they are onloaded at the rendering plant.


Sea Change


How did these ships end up fishing for menhaden in Chesapeake Bay?


It is here that the boats’ histories become unclear.


Not only the function of these World War II-era ships has changed; Their looks have changed, too, with the wheelhouses moved forward, the holds expanded and converted to hold fish with the addition of lots of refrigeration and piping to keep the catch fresh.


The people who sail them often have only a hazy notion of a boat’s history, much as a family has little knowledge of the people who occupied a house before they did.


Ships are sold. Names are changed. Structures are reconfigured.


The boats of Omega Protein’s Reedville menhaden fishing fleet bear little resemblance to the ships of World War II.


“Sailors on the original boats wouldn’t recognize these boats,” said Captain Paul Somers, a menhaden-boat captain living in White Stone, Virginia. “Their outlines have completely changed.”


The biggest change was that the wheelhouses were moved forward. To hold fish, the holds have been converted with lots of refrigeration piping.


A few boats have plaques in their engine rooms attesting to their naval service.


Tying Up One Boat’s History


One of the most famous of this Reedville fleet is the Earl J. Conrad Jr.


In its 65 years, the 166-foot-long boat has sailed under six names, from the USS Deal to the Akuarius, or Akvarius, according to the Lloyd’s Register of shipping.


In the early 1970s, the ship was purchased and converted to a menhaden fishing boat by the company now known as Omega Protein Inc. and rechristened the Earl J. Conrad Jr. Captain Somers is her captain.


His boat is very seaworthy, Somers says, explaining why the 50-plus year-old boats are still in service.


The fame of the Earl J. Conrad Jr. is due not to its wartime service as the USS Deal but to its brief career as the Olga Patricia, renamed Laissez Faire, a floating pirate radio station.


Built in 1944 in the Wheeler Shipbuilding Corporation in Whitestone, New York, for the U.S. Army Transportation Service, the ship was numbered FS-263.


After its World War II stint as the USS Deal, this ship was bought and transformed in the 1960s — with the addition of a massive antenna broadcasting at 50,000 watts — into the pirate radio ship Laissez Faire off the coast of England.


FS-263 was named USAT Deal for Deal Island in Chesapeake Bay west of Salisbury.


She was manned by the U.S. Coast Guard, with Lieutenant Junior Grade W.G. Hill her first commanding officer.


During World War II, she operated in the South Pacific out of New Guinea, ferrying supplies from port to port. Decommissioned at war’s end, Deal came to the navy and was commissioned as Miscellaneous Auxiliary, USS Deal (AG-131) at Apra, Guam, in March, 1947. With Lieutenant Junior Grade P.G. Patton commanding, she carried cargo to the Pacific islands out of Guam until 1949, when she berthed in Pearl Harbor.


The USS Deal (AKL-2) ferried equipment and supplies during the Korean War as part of the 7th Fleet out of Sasebo, Japan. She was decommissioned in 1955 and laid up in Puget Sound (Bremerton) until she was sold in 1961.


After a brief period working as a cargo ship in the Caribbean in the early 1960s as the Don Carlos, the ship was rechristened the M/V Olga Patricia and later the M/V Laissez Faire.


Fitted with a towering antenna, the Olga Patricia/Laissez Faire attained some measure of notoriety as a pirate radio ship operating off the coast of England in 1966.


That’s after the 160-foot antenna snapped in rough seas and fell overboard when the floating radio station was barely out of Miami on her Atlantic crossing. The ship had to drag the antenna to the Azores to get help to haul it on board. The antenna was reset in Lisbon.


Broadcasting to England and Europe on a powerful 50,000 watt AM station called Swinging Radio England, American disc jockeys excited teenagers with rapid-fire, personalized patter and rock and roll music. The station, the project of Texas entrepreneur Don Pierson, was unsuccessful financially and was short-lived.


But not forgotten. This swashbuckling radio adventure is fondly remembered by both the boss jocks who broadcast from on board and their now-aging British and European fans who listened on their radios.


How do we know?


By the powers of the Internet.


Svenn Martinsen sent an inquiry to Bay Weekly from Norway. Martinsen sought photos of former AKL/FS ships now being used as fishing boats by Omega Protein Inc. of Reedville, Virginia. Specifically, he wanted to know about the Earl J. Conrad Jr. He’d been one of the excited kids who listened to radio broadcasts from the ship in 1966-’67. “I love those stations created by Don Pierson, of Eastland, Texas,” said Martinsen.

Thus our story began.


Special thanks to two sources, Martinsen, who hopes to learn more from Bay Weekly readers ( and Bill Rottkamp, of White Stone, Virginia, a sailor who interviewed Captain Paul Somers and supplied information on the menhaden fishery.


Found at the wharf!


Continuing my web research in January 2008, I came across another sister ship of the Earl J Conrad jr, as a picture of the FS-411 Shearwater[43] had been posted whilst on a Norfolk wharf in 2004.


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!



Earl J.Conrad Jr. leaving Lyons Shipyard in Norfolk after maintenance work in February, 2006 going down the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River. It is just passing what I think is the transmitting mast of WNOR 1230! ©Jeff Turner, 2006.



2 sister ships of the Earl J Conrad jr, the Reedville and the Great Wicomico(FS-227)(a different conversion, as the old bow has been retained) in dock in Norfolk in February 2006. The Carter’s Creek, another Omega Protein-run vessel is also present.©Jeff Turner, 2006.



“I could not find a ship’s log, or builders plaque on board. It appears that the bow has been modified. The name would have been above the existing waist, as it is now.” Yes, and no remnants of any beaded letters seems to be here as originally thought-editor. ©Jeff Turner, 2008.



“The Earl J.Conrad jr is presently tied up to pier # 3. We are scheduled to haul it on the 18th of April, to paint it blue.”©Jeff Turner, 2008.







The wheelhouse has been moved forward. Please compare to the 1966 picture above! The bell is seemingly new. ©Jeff Turner, 2008.







My friend and former broadcaster David Gilbee/Dave MacKay broadcasting on "Britain Radio", "Radio 227" and "Radio 355" called me in Mid-Februar 2008.  He'd remembered something that adds to the rich heritage surrounding what is today the menhaden ship "Earl J.Conrad jr." of Reedville, VA. He said: "The galley of the Olga Patricia ran from port side to starboard across the ship.  It was open to a corridor to both sides. On the starboard side adjacent to the galley was a dining room. It was a small room, with a large steel table and red plastic seating all the way round. The walls were white painted steel." One of his colleagues, the late Alan Black was a very good cartoonist.  "He used a Magic Marker and droodled cartoons on the wall of the diner." If this part of the ship's architecture is intact, Dave thinks there will be new layers of paint now,  "But under it will be Alan's cartoons!" Deja vú, Boss Jocks and crew! These pictures are from the galleys of the Earl J Conrad Jr/Olga Patricia. The first two are from the starboard, and the last two from the aft galley. ©Jeff Turner, 2008.





The Earl J Conrad jr Certificate of Documentation stating the vessel was built in 1944 in Whitestone N.Y. ©Jeff Turner, 2008.







3 pictures of the smokestack/funnel of the Earl J Conrad jr, with, what I think is the logo of ”Inter-American Line” of Liberia.©Jeff Turner, 2008.


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The stern tells the story! The first shot from Miami, March 1966 is from the ©Derek Burroughs achive.


The next 3 shots are from Miami April 1966, then the Essex coast in 1966 and 1967, and included in a DVD compiled by Don Pierson’s son Grey. ©Pierson Family archive.


And then the next 4 with the proof that the Earl J Conrad jr, (although very much changed) IS the former radio ship Olga Patricia AND US Navy Ship USS DEAL: My heart jumped when Jeff Turner emailed me in mid-April, 2008: “Touring the EJC quickly, I’ve only found (that) located on the stern, there are letters welded, spelling out Olga Patricia. And you can make out DEAL, In larger letters, the D is under the G & A, THE E IS UNDER THE P, THE A IS UNDER THE T, AND THE L IS UNDER THE I (!!)©Jeff Turner, 2008. I replied: “Thanks for the wonderful picture of the Olga Patricia/Earl J Conrad's stern. Now isn't this amazing! This is the actual proof! The mystery is solved! You have currently got an ex-radio pirate as well as a proud US Navy ship at Lyons! Yes, the Reedville Menhaden boat IS the radio ship! And it has the right name, too, not Olga Princess as Lloyd's said.”




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:


1.FS[44]-263(381 model. USAT Deal, built 1944 by Wheeler Shipyard, Whitestone, Long Island, NY[45])


2.AG-131(USS Deal)

3.AKL[46]-2(USS Deal, stationed Sasebo, Japan 1950-1955, decommissioned 1955, laid up Puget Sound(Bremerhaven) sold 1961) Call letters NPBG.

4.Don Carlos(cannot be confirmed, but ship seems to have sailed in Caribbean for Inter-American Lines, Inc. of Liberia)


5.Olga Patricia, at least 1965-1966. Call letters HPUY. (Panama registration, maybe twice)Video clips:


6.Laissez Faire, 1966-1970? Call letters HPUY. (Might have been transferred to Honduras registration(Puerto Cortes) late 1966.)


7.Akuarius (II)(confirmed by Omega Protein Inc.)(1974-1983??)


8.Earl J.Conrad Jr.(Fishing vessel of Haynie Products Inc./ Zapata Haynie Corporation Inc./ Zapata Protein, Inc., now Omega Protein Inc. of Reedville, VA.(1983(?)-today)

(WYZ9562, USCG Doc. No.: 547733)



Addendum 1:


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.


Addendum 2:


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: (l-r:)Graham Gill, Patrick Starling(engineer), Johnnie Walker, Roger Day, Ron O’ Quinn, editor, John Ross-Barnard and Phil Martin.(Behind: Harald Harky and Mark Sloane.)




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[47]?(See above)


LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01


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.


LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01


The Titan also looks like the Olga Patricia and it is tied up at dock. ©Derek Burroughs archive.


LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01


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.



LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01


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.[48]) 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.[49]

*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.

Cmdr. J.Gordon-Nixon

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.[50]

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

Benny Goodman

Jim Reid


Mike Barrell

or any of the other names?


(Is there any possibility that these persons would be agents of Don Pierson and/or Pierce Langford III?)


[1] ©Derek Burroughs archive.

[2] An island off the coast of Maryland.

[3] Earlier, the ident had been found to be FP263, printing error?




[7] 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.

[8] 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.


[10] Per

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: ” a 480 ton landing craft 186 feet long.”

[11] 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....

[12] 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.”

[13] 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.

[14] ©Derek Burroughs archive.

[15] ©Derek Burroughs archive.

[16] Street address: 777 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.

[17] ©OFFSHORE ECHOS #126 May 2002 Interview with Larry Dean By Steve England.

[18] ©OFFSHORE ECHOS  #143, March, 2006. Interview with Rick Randall By Steve England.

[19] Jerry Smithwick in ©OFFSHORE ECHOS #118.

[20] Contrasts with information given by Rick Randall, 2006.

[21] 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.

[22] ©Rick Randall, September 2006.

[23] ©John England: “Much More Music! The story of Don Pierson a broadcasting pioneer.” ©OFFSHORE ECHO’S #82, August 1990.

[24] ©Rick Randall, February 2006.

[25]  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.

[26]  “The Wonderful Radio London Story.” p.261 ©Chris Elliott, 1997. For some clandestine radio stuff, see

[27] ©Derek Burroughs archive.

[28] Moshe Dayan’s spokesman’s telegram said "No thank you."

[29] Seemingly exiles from the former Portugese colony enclave Goa.

[30]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.


Yours sincerly,


G. L. Obhrad


Office of Public Information”(Gilder)

[31] Armstrong declined because the UK threatened to close his British campus if he accepted.(Gilder)

[32] “United States Information Agency

Washington 20547


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


[33] "Last Voyage of A Musical Pirate" by Joan Brazer.

[34] Was this missionary tied to Trans World Radio and does this explain why the transmitters got to Africa? ©Derek Burroughs archive.

[35] 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.

[36] Was this missionary tied to Trans World Radio and does this explain why the transmitters got to Africa? ©Derek Burroughs archive.

[37]  Partly from

[38] 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.©

[39] 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

[40]Per USCG vessel documentation office

[41] More information here:


[43] 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:

[44]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


[46] Lists of hull numbers and names of AKL ships may be found here:

[47] 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.


[49] This is a name never noted before in connection with neither the Olga Patricia or the Galaxy, editor.

[50]  This seems strange, as it seems the two Continental transmitters were in full working order when the Olga Patricia left Europe, editor.