The "N" prefix

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by WA4ILH, Jul 3, 2017.

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  1. WA4ILH

    WA4ILH Subscriber QRZ Page

    Prior to the early 70s, The “N” prefix was assigned exclusively for use by the United States Navy and Coast Guard. When I was stationed on a ship, which pulled into Norfolk Naval Shipyard in 1970, I often visited their Amateur Radio Station W4RSS. They also had a Navy Marine Corps MARS station with the call sign N0NSY. At the time all Navy MARS calls began with the prefix “N” followed by the number “0.” In the early 70s, this changed when the FCC started issuing amateur radio call signs with the prefix N. At that time, Navy MARS stations began using the prefix “NNN0.”
    There were a few exceptions to this. I once saw a QSL card for an amateur contact in the late 40s from the Guantanamo Bay Naval station with a N4 call sign. Also, prior to the change, there were a number of USN Reserve centers in the 8th Naval district which conducted training nets on Navy frequencies which had N8xxx call signs.
    I suppose there are similar stories with the AA-AL prefix set.
    Tom WA4ILH
    N4FZ and K4AGO like this.
  2. KK5JY

    KK5JY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    The history of radio callsigns is full of interesting one-off stories, each one having a unique history behind it.

    I sometimes wonder if I should have kept my N-by-3 call from my tech days, since they aren't available systematically anymore. Then again, my current call group is also not available systematically.

    I also wonder why we continue to use callsigns at all. They aren't reliable identifiers, and they aren't even used during enforcement efforts, since anybody can pretend to be any callsign. I saw that the 13 Colonies special event stations website even warns that there are imposters expected during the event.

    Anyway, interesting story. :cool:
    W5TTP likes this.
  3. N7AHE

    N7AHE XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    My call originally belonged to my mother and she got it in the early '70s, matching what you described.
    NY7Q, KI5WW and N6QIC like this.
  4. N6QIC

    N6QIC Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    My call sign is an original systematic technician call sign from 1987. First issued a KB6 call as a Novice then upgraded a month later to technician and received N6QIC. I have kept it ever sense.
    KX4O and KK5JY like this.
  5. W6OGC

    W6OGC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I was a reserve Radioman training at the NRTC in Austin during the mid-60's. I don't recall that we were on the air. Another training center in my hometown where I drilled sometimes was on the air. I have no idea what the callsign might have been. It had huge towers, an enormous transmitter in the backroom, a really firebreather.

    I was commissioned and went on active duty in 1968. When I returned from active duty, I joined my old Surface Division in Austin, and was assigned to the Admin Department which included the RMs, ETs, RDs, etc. Attendance was poor; nobody wanted to come down there and waste an evening doing nothing.

    I got a station on the air with an old TCS for the dozen or so RMs we had, and they began participating in the 8th Naval District net every week. The radiomen fought with each other over "whose turn it was" this week to operate the net, and attendance was 100%! I don't recall the call sign. If I had to say, I would think it was a ship type call, "NQPZ" or something like that. I don't think it was an N8, but it was nearly 50 years ago, 1970.
    K8AI likes this.
  6. N6QIC

    N6QIC Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Wow now that is really cool, glad you were able to get her call sign.
  7. NI3QM

    NI3QM Ham Member QRZ Page

    my call sign NI3QM was the call sign of the USS Enterprise CVN 65. NIQM
    K8PG, SA6CKE and N6QIC like this.
  8. W2AI

    W2AI QRZ Lifetime Member #240 Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Interestingly enough, during the late 1950s and early 60s; military installations were issued amateur radio station licenses. Perhaps part of the national civil defense program that existed during the "cold war" between the United States and the USSR. For the most part the military installations were issued sequential 1x3 "K" prefix callsigns at the time. In the 1st and 3rd radio districts a special callsign block beginning withe the suffix "F" was reserved for federal installations with only a few of these calls issued. Finally, in 1963; when the "K" prefix 1x3 callsigns were exhausted in the 1st and 3rd districts (reached K1ZZZ, K3ZZZ) the file clerks assigned to the task of maintaining the index card file of amateur radio station licenses turned to the unused "F" block. When that block was depleted; the WA 2x3 sequential calls were issued. Prior to 1964; all FCC amateur radio operator and station licenses were issued manually by a file clerk assigned to each radio district.
  9. W3WN

    W3WN Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    That's cool.

    Too bad someone can't get NCC1701A (B C D E or J) as a special event call for the Enterprise.

    Of course, 200+ years from now, that may be the call sequence issued by the United Federation's equivalent of the FCC, at least for the Earth.
    KD4MOJ, K8AI, W4IOA and 1 other person like this.
  10. W3WN

    W3WN Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    When many Air Force military rec stations went silent, usually accompanied by the closing of the base, a lot of Air Force retired or Reserve members picked up the calls. (Although at least one, KL7AIR, still is associated with the appropriate base)

    My source on this, by the way, is the current K3AIR.

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