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LOS ANGELES — The Queen Mary, an ocean liner that once sailed the North Atlantic, is now permanently berthed in Long Beach, California, where it's a tourist attraction and hotel. In one of the rooms aboard the ship, the tradition of ship-to-shore wireless operations is continued and visitors are introduced to the hobby of ham radio.
A young visitor recently got an introduction to Morse code, the system of dots and dashes once used for wireless communication. Amateur radio operators, called "hams," still use it today. The wireless room preserves the ocean liner's communications hub. Queen Mary Commodore Everette Hoard said it was a lifeline in emergencies, providing two-way messages -- ship to shore.
“And not only did they carry several transmitters for transmitting the ship's business, they also, even in 1936, had radio-telephone service,” said Hoard. Today, volunteers from the local amateur radio club show off old equipment and operate new gear, as they talk to hams around the world.