Bill's QSL COLLECTION
Part 3:  US Coast Guard Stations
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Last updated June 7, 2021,

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Clarification:  This can be a bit confusing.  When I refer to a coast guard station or local station I am referring usually to a small station that is either a lifeboat station or light station, but the term can also refer to a local area office, which in the days of my listening, was called a group office.     When I refer to a Coast Guard Radio Station, I am referring to a communications station existing for communications in its region, and as well might be a central reporting-in point for the local coast guard stations.  The radio stations had much higher power than the local stations, which of course is why I heard radio stations from throughout the continent and beyond, but local stations only from areas closer to my listening locations.

In my radio listening days I had various interests that came and went.  One of the longest lasting ones was to monitor the US Coast Guard.   Back in the 60ís and 70ís when I did my listening they were like other marine interests and used the 2 MHz marine band for most communications along the coasts and rivers, and HF for oceanic communications.   I never really listened to the HF side of things, but I sure did listen to the 2 MHz marine band.  It was not only the US Coast Guard on there but I became interested in hearing and getting confirmations from as many of their stations as I could.    Today there are only less than half a dozen USCG communications stations and they use only HF.  The 2 MHz band still exists but the USCG does not use it, and their local coast guard stations with the lifeboats are only on VHF. 

Back in the day however there were many major and secondary USCG radio stations along the coasts and as well each and every local CG lifeboat station and manned lighthouse was on the 2 MHz band. All of these stations were capable of using the international calling and emergency frequency of 2182 kHz, and the USCG stations also used their primary working frequency of 2670 kHz.    There were a few other frequencies exclusive to the USCG but by and large I parked myself on 2182 and/or 2670 and listened for what I could hear.  

Also in those days, call letters were much more important than they are today.  The USCG stations all began with the letter N.   All the radio stations used three letter call signs commencing with NM or NO, with the exception of a few in the western Pacific and elsewhere overseas.  The local coast guard stations used call letters based on the radio station in their area, followed by one or two numbers.   For example the radio station at Westport, Washington was NMW, and the local coast guard station at Grays Harbor was NMW18.  

Here is a list of the 3-letter call signs that I know of.   It is possible that one or two of these were re-used from other locations.   In general a station with a three-letter NM call sign was a major radio station.  The NO series were commonly assigned to CG Air Stations, with some of these also serving as secondary radio stations.     For example NMW was the radio station at Westport, Washington, whereas NOW was not far away at the CG Air Station, Port Angeles, Washington.   Locations are not necessarily the actual location of the facilities, but rather are the name associated with the station.  NR was used in the western Pacific, and as well there were a few other series shared with the US Navy.    Note that USCG ships use 4-letter call letters beginning with N, similar to the US Navy.

Very few of the stations shown in the chart exist in any form today.  Those in the NM series that so are starred.  NMC is the remaining manned station for the Pacific area, and NMN is the same for the Atlantic. Double-starred stations exist but are remotely operated from the two Master stations.  In the NO series several do as they are at Air Stations. Local Coast Guard stations still exist but they only use VHF and official call letters are not used on the air, and perhaps are not used whatoever.

The main parting comment is that in my classic listening days I could hear USCG stations at very long distances on the 2 MHz band, especially at night.  Today there is nothing, and of course VHF is strictly local.   It is a lost world.   When I look at my QSL cards I fondly remember those days of digging weak signals out of the background noise to try to log a new station, and I regret that I did not hear more of them.  I did hear all the stations listed with the exception of the overseas ones or ones that were already out of commission when I was listening.   I have enclosed the ones not heard in brackets.

NMA Miami**

 

NMB Charleston SC

 

NMC San Francisco*

(NOC Bermuda AS)

NMD Cleveland

 

NME  might not have existed

 

NMF Boston**

NOF St Petersburg

NMG New Orleans

NOG Sault Ste Marie

NMH Washington, DC

 

NMI  might not have existed

 

NMJ Ketchikan

NOJ Kodiak

NMK Cape May

 

NML St Louis

 

NMM might not have existed

 

NMN Portsmouth VA

 

NMO Honolulu**

 

NMP Chicago

 

NMQ Long Beach

 

NMR San Juan

NOR San Diego

NMS might not have existed

 

(NMT Point Barrow)

 

NMU might not have existed

 

NMV Jacksonville Beach

(NOV Cape May AS)

NMW Westport

NOW Port Angeles

NMX Baltimore

(NOX Adak AS) 1979

NMY New York

NOY Corpus Christie AS

NMZ might not have existed

 

 I did not ever hear any of the following overseas CG stations.

NRO Midway

 NRV6  Marcus Island

NRV Guam**

NRT3 Iwo Jima 

NRX Philippines

 NOY4 CC AS

NRT Japan

 

NJN Argentia

 

NCI Naples

 

NIK Intl Ice Patrol

 

 

My US Coast Guard QSL's & related items

Note that I logged many more of the local coast guard stations, but either reported
and did not hear back, or did not get around to sending a report in the first place!

In cases where a station is shown twice, this indicates reception from two different places.

Space reserved for NMD Cleveland Coast Guard Radio.
At preseent I cannot find this card.