Due to Pandemic

I’m curious if the Swains DXpedition delay due to a global pandemic was a first in ham radio history event?

The backstory here being that an international team of 10 operators planned to be active from Swains Island as W8S from March 10-25th of this year. Being number 34 on the Most Wanted list made this one highly anticipated and the team planned to be active on all HF bands in CW, SSB, FT8 and RTTY.

But then came breaking news that the operation would have to be canceled due to the Coronavirus. Not that anyone on the team had contracted the virus, but rather the sudden travel restrictions implemented upon entering American Samoa, restrictions imposed by the Department of Health as a result of the outbreak. The Department of Health allows non-residents to enter American Samoa only via Hawaii, after a 14 days mandatory quarantine in Hawaii. This wasn’t workable for the team as it would have extended the time of the excursion by an additional two weeks, and would require re-routing of flights and purchasing new tickets, etc.

The GOOD NEWS is that the operation has been re-scheduled:

Following the disappointing news earlier this week the Swains2020 team is extremely happy that we can announce the new schedule for the W8S DXpedition to Swains Island. The team will be on the island from September 23 until October 6, 2020.

The impact of the deadly Coronavirus continues to be much more serious than simple changes in travel plans. With thousands having died of the virus and the impending collapse of the global economy, the final results from this pandemic have yet to fully materialize.

Still I wonder, as just a footnote in our history, was this a first for amateur radio?

On the Air

South Orkney 2020

The South Orkney 2020 DXpedition (VP8PJ) team has been focused on this project since January of last year and it seems to have come together nicely, with only few bumps in the road and no major problems or surprises. The team is ready to leave home late next week and will all stay at the same hotel in Punta Arenas where they will meet up with Nigel Jolly (RV Braveheart) on the 12th for dinner and a last minute briefing before the ship arrives.

If plans hold, the radio operation should get underway on February 21st and run for about two weeks.

These islands were last activated as VP8ORK in 2011 by the Micro-Lite Penguin Expedition Team which made almost 64,000 contacts. By the time the VP8PJ team arrives, it will have been 9 years since its last activation. Given the cost and difficulty in reaching this remote dot on the globe, it could be a very long time until it is activated again.

At the moment, South Orkney is 16th on the Most Wanted list.

The estimated cost of the operation is $325,000(USD). Individual team members will shoulder half that cost, but they hope to raise the other half from the DX community. The team kindly requests your donations. If you work the Dxpedition and donate $10(USD) or more BEFORE they set sail your LoTW confirmation will be processed from the island. All other donors (that work them) will have their confirmation processed via LoTW when OQRS opens.

Donors of $50(USD) or more will receive LoTW and free QSL card(s).

The South Orkney Islands lie in the Scotia Sea about 600 km northeast of the Antarctic Peninsula, 1440 km southeast of Tierra del Fuego or 800 km south of the Antarctic convergence. They were discovered by American and British sealers in 1821 and have since served as a base for Scotch, French, and Argentine sealing and scientific expeditions.