USRC Apache


Builder: Reeder & Sons, Baltimore, MD
Completed: commissioned 22 Aug. 1891
Decommissioned: 31 Dec. 1937
Length: 190'oa
Navigation draft: 7'9'' draft
Beam: 29'
Displacement: 416  tons
Propulsion: compound-expansion steam,   15.75''and 27'' diam by 24'' stroke replaced with triple-expansion steam, 17'', 27'', 43'' diam by 24'' stroke, 12 kts
Screw: twin replaced with single
Complement : 41
Armament : 3 guns
Misc: iron hull

Coast Guard Cutter: dp. 708; 1. 185'3''; b. 29'0"; dr. 9'3" (mean); s. 12 k.; cpl. 58; a. 3 3", 2 mg., 1 Y-gun (1918)

The second Apache - a cutter built in 1891 at Baltimore, Md., by Reeder & Sons, was commissioned in the Revenue Cutter Service as Galveston on 22 August 1891.

After temporary duty at Wilmington, N.C., Galveston moved on to her permanent assignment along the gulf coast in October. During the Spanish-American War, the revenue cutter was not transferred to the Navy; but instead was ordered to New Orleans to cooperate with the military authorities there in the defense of the city. After hostilities ended in the summer of 1898, the cutter resumed her former duties enforcing customs laws and providing assistance to ships in distress and to victims of natural disasters such as the hurricane and high tide that struck Galveston, Texas, between 27 August and 8 September 1900. Galveston operated in the Gulf of Mexico until the summer of 1906. During that time, on 30 December 1900, her name was changed to Apache.

In July 1906, the cutter was reassigned to the Chesapeake Bay area. Steaming via Key West, Fla., Apache arrived in Baltimore on 21 July 1906 and spent the rest of her government service operating in the Chesapeake water system. When the United States entered World War I, the Coast Guard - established in 1916 with the amalgamation of the Revenue Cutter Service and the Lifesaving Service - was transferred to Navy jurisdiction; and Apache was assigned to the 5th Naval District. She continued to patrol the waters of Chesapeake Bay through the end of the war. Jurisdiction over the Coast Guard was returned to the Treasury Department on 28 August 1919. The cutter remained active with the Coast Guard until 1937. 

In the year 1944, the "Apache" was taken to Sydney, Australia where it was totally rebuilt and equipped with electronic equipment for service as a radio broadcasting ship. Generators, receivers, cables, antennas, all were installed, including two shortwave transmitters at 10 kW each.

This mobile broadcasting station sailed north from Sydney in late September 1944, arriving at General Douglas MacArthur's headquarters at Hollandia, New Guinea on October 10. Two days later, the "Apache" joined a flotilla of American war vessels for the return invasion of the Philippines. 

The Apache was scrapped in 1950.

Offshore radio station: It was somewhere around mid-morning of October 20th 1944 that the "Apache" made its first transmission, a navy report to California about the new invasion of the Philippines. The allocated callsign for this radio broadcasting ship was WVLC, reminiscent of the Australian callsign, VLC in Shepparton, Victoria.

For the next one and a half years, the "Apache" was heard on the air quite often, sometimes with the relay to America of Pacific war news & reports, and sometimes with the onward relay of radio programming from the shortwave stations in the "Voice of America" network in California.

After a spate of on air service in Manila Bay, the "Apache" moved to the Lingayen (ling-GAY-an) Gulf early in the new year 1945 to cover the moving tide of warfare on the island of Luzon. At the time of the signing of the surrender documents on the USS "Missouri" in Tokyo Bay, the "Apache" was there, but it was silent, simply because the more powerful land based shortwave station at Nazaki (na-ZAR-kee) in Japan was carrying the programming on relay back to America.

After this, the "Apache" was noted with radio despatches and occasional programming off the coast of Korea, and then further south off the coast of China.

The saga of radio broadcasting from the reconditioned "Apache" came to an end on April 20, 1946, when the American navy vessel, USS Spindle Eye took over not only the radio prograrnmming but even the callsign WVLC. The "Apache" was decommissioned, and then in 1950 it was scrapped.

During its 18 months of radio history, the "Apache" served as a communication ship, an intermediate relay station for armed forces communications, and as a radio broadcasting unit carrying programs on behalf of the American Armed Forces Radio Service & the Voice of America. It is quite probable too, that this station also carried a relay from Radio Australia on certain occasions.

The "Apache" was logged in Australia, New Zealand and the United States under three very similar callsigns. The basic callsign was WVLC. Another callsign in use for a brief period of times was WVLO, and it is suggested that this was in reality the second transmitter, which was noted subsequently under the callsign WVLC2.

Numerous QSLs exist in old radio collections in New Zealand & Australia & the United States but they are all in the form of typed letters. There is no known QSL card in existence bearing the callsign WVLC, not even for the relay of VOA and AFRS programming. [Information by Dr. Adrian Peterson]

"The little ship became the darling of news reporters covering the Pacific war. In the months ahead a steady stream of traffic flowed from our station to the world" (Sanford T. Terry, veteran broadcaster).

Location: Manila Bay, the Lingayen Gulf, off the coast of Korea, and then further south off the coast of China. 


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