HAMNET Report 2nd July 2023

Grant Southey, ZS6GS, our HAMNET National Director has shared with me the obituary penned by the Department of Transport and SASAR, on the untimely passing of Mr Jared Blows, Chief of the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, 10 days ago.

They write: “Mr Blows had been in the maritime domain for almost 19 years, and had risen from being a Duty Controller, to Regional MRCC Chief. He served as a maritime expert in different forums, such as a member of the ICAO/IMO Joint Working Group, and an IMRF member.

“He was very instrumental in the drafting of the ground-breaking Multilateral Agreement between South Africa, Angola, Comoros, Madagascar, Mozambique and Namibia, and the signing thereof. This allowed the establishment of the Regional MRCC in South Africa, inaugurated in 2007. He assisted in the establishment and manning of this MRCC, and hosted visits from the IMO, the Minister of Transport and the directors general in the department.

“Later, he took SASAR under his wing, leading them in all areas of their work.

“He served the nation with pride and joy, and the SASAR family at large expresses its profound grief at his passing, and conveys condolences to his family and friends.”


The country has had its fair share of extreme weather this week. Downpours and a mini-tornado in Inanda township, north of Durban, widespread rain and thunderstorms along the KZN South Coast and Durban, record-breaking amounts of rain over the Western Cape for June, extremely cold conditions right round the country, and snow in the north-eastern region of the Eastern Cape, Lesotho and the Southern Drakensberg, have brought the month of June to a wintery close. And it appears not to be over yet, so please think twice before venturing out on risky expeditions, keep your radios on your local emergency frequencies when you’re home, and be available to provide assistance in whatever way you can to family, neighbours and your community if it is threatened.

The ARRL Field Day weekend has come and gone, and, all in all, it would seem that propagation was good, and contacts were plentiful. Several commentators have discussed the usual problem of using two radios simultaneously and in close proximity on adjacent bands. Risks to the receiver front ends by transmissions from nearby antennas were mitigated by the use of narrow single-band filters mostly, as well as siting antennas at a distance and orientation sufficient to reduce overloading. I have not seen reports of receiver damage yet, but these are still early days. The weather seems to have been reasonable, and the solar indices fairly cooperative, so communications within the Americas seem to have been good. Perhaps the local Dx’ers will comment in the near future as to whether contacts were possible with American stations?

Writing in techxplore.com, Carolyn Thompson and Patrick Whittle say that Edward Cassano and his colleagues from Pelagic Research Services quickly learned when they arrived in the remote stretch of ocean where the Titan submersible had gone missing, that they would have to do what other deep-sea experts had already tried unsuccessfully: to find the lost sub in some of the most forbidding depths of the North Atlantic.

They set to work deploying their own remotely operated vehicle, the Odysseus, from a ship with a giant “umbilical cord,” then lowered the behemoth to the ocean floor, a process that took about an hour and a half, Cassano said on Friday at a news conference held at the suburban Buffalo headquarters of his company, Pelagic Research Services.

Just moments after Odysseus arrived on the seafloor, its high-definition cameras sent back images of debris that were undoubtedly what remained of the Titan. The Canadian ship Horizon Arctic brought Odysseus to the search area that had been established for the Titan, and the underwater robot was offloaded into the ocean on June 22. The Titan’s debris was located on the seafloor about 3,810 meters underwater. The ship returned to port on Wednesday the 28th with mangled chunks of the submersible.

Investigating the debris is a crucial part of a multiagency investigation into why the Titan imploded on its way to view wreckage of the Titanic. The Coast Guard is leading the investigation. Pelagic’s team conducted 24-hour operations with Odysseus even after finding the wreckage, Cassano said. While tethered to its mother ship, the robot used heavy lifting capabilities to retrieve the heavy debris from the ocean floor, he said.

Asked what he thought of the Titan’s voyage, Cassano said that, based on his own experience with a company that focuses on deep-sea research, he believes the crew was motivated by “a passion and a joy for exploration.”

There are hundreds of remote-operated vehicles, or ROVs, operating around the world, using robotic arms, lights and cameras to work in parts of the deep ocean that would be dangerous or impossible for humans to access.

ROVs were first developed in the 1960s and have been used for military, scientific and industrial uses, such as underwater safety inspections of platforms and pipelines, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. An ROV named Jason Jr. developed by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution was used to explore the Titanic in 1986, the year after explorers discovered the iconic ocean liner’s wreckage.

After the Titan was reported missing on June 18, the Navy analysed acoustic data and found an “anomaly” consistent with an implosion or explosion in the area where the vessel was when communications were lost, according to a senior U.S. Navy official.

Debris from the Titan, which is believed to have imploded that day as it made its descent, was located roughly 488 meters from the Titanic on the ocean floor. The Coast Guard hopes its investigation will result in measures to improve the safety of submersibles. Other government agencies in the U.S. and Canada are participating in the investigation.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR, very happily on Terra Firma, and reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.