Beginning of the MARAC
By Johan, PA2E
The MARAC, Marine Radio Amateur Club (Navy Amateur Radio Club), originates from the Operational School of the Netherlands Royal Navy in Den Helder. In 1976, the closure of the Communication School (Verbindingschool VBS) in Amsterdam resulted into the transfer of all training for communication personnel to the Opertional School in Den Helder. Also the Communication Service was integrated into the Operational Service. The amateur radio station PI1KM moved along to Den Helder and it got there after some time the new callsign PI5KOM.
In the mid-eighties Henk/PA3CVU (SK) and Gerard/PA3DKZ regularly met during lunch breaks in the amateur station of the school. Both were members of the RNARS, the Royal Naval Amateur Radio Society. In this amateur station the idea arose to create a Dutch club modelled on the RNARS and German MF Runde. The members should be radio amateurs who somehow were or had been connected tot the Netherlands Royal Navy.
The membership should not be limited to people in the communication service but should be open for people from all sectors within the Navy. Henk took care of placing a notification in Electron and CQ-PA and Gerard was willing to cooperate if the response was sufficient. Within a month over sixty positive reactions were received.
With this as a basis the MARAC was founded on June 1, 1985.
Inaugural meeting in The Haque
From left to right: Rens/PA0PBC (SK), Henk/PA3CVU (SK), Gerard/PA3DKZ, Cees/PD0OEP (SK)
Now the real work could begin. A draft statute was made and it was agreed that keeping a strong bond within the society needed special attention, because the members lived throughout the country. It was obviously that weekly nets needed to be organised, both on HF and on VHF. And a club magazine needed to be founded. Gerard suggested to name the magazine ‘MARINADE’. The idea behind it is that the MARINADE adds flavour to this society as normal marinade adds flavour to food. It also refers to the Navy (In Dutch ‘Marine’). At the time of the founding meeting held in The Haque the board consisted of Henk Vossen/PA3CVU as chairman, Gerard van der Voort/PA3DKZ as secretary and editor of the magazine MARINADE, Rens Feenstra/PA0PBC as treasures and Cees van Leeuwen/PD0OFP and Bent/PA1D (formerly PA3AYS) as members. Unfortunately, some of these pioneers have passed away.
And of course an award had to be made. With a great deal of thought and creativity Henk and Gerard made a design. They agreed that all parts of the Netherlands Royal Navy had to be represented by their coat of arms. With some help from a sponsor, a famous brewery, the MARAC Award was created as it is presently known. Willem de Bode/PD0NUY volunteered to act as the award-manager. Willem himself was an avid collector of awards and he promoted the MARAC Award with a lot of enthusiasm. Within a short time the MARAC Award was well-known both at home and abroad.
The first years of the MARAC can be called quite turbulent. For a number of years, allowing (ex)mechant navy personnel to join has been a hot potato during the annual meetings. It is noteworthy that MARAC members from the Den Helder region and the Dordrecht-Gouda-The Haque region drifted apart soon. The influence of the navy in Den Helder and the navy in The Haque was felt strongly. The illusive distance between the opertional and the administrative navy was also noticeable here. Especially this distinction was very clear during the debate on the possible admittance of (ex)merchant navy personnel. A group of members from the The Haque region strongly opposed, while members from the Den Helder region had a more moderate opinion. Because of interest the secretary at the time investigated the historical relationship between the navy and the merchant navy. The only conclusion he could draw was that they had a very good reason to allow merchant navy personnel. And this is what happened utlimately.
With these new admission rules MARAC is now open to both Dutch and foreign (ex) navy and (ex) merchant navy personnel.
Edited by Dirk, pa3dcq