News/Updates

    Website update log
    Click HERE to see updates to the website.


    Augutst 27 2009
    For current QSL status information, click HERE.

    March 3 2009
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    K5D Desecheo Press Release

    All team members have safely returned home.   The K5D DXpedition, 12-26 February 2009, netted 115,783 QSOs, including one QSO with the International Space Station.   The DXpedition ranks #7th for all-time number of QSOs, and the #1 DXpedition with the most 30M contacts.   More importantly, we are confident that thousands of radio amateurs worldwide now have a QSO with Desecheo for an all-time new one--our overall #1 goal!

    Desecheo was #2 Most Wanted in Asia and #3 Most Wanted in Europe.   We are happy to report that 40% of our contacts were with Asia and Europe!!!

    Another important goal achieved!

    The QSL card is in the final stages of design and will be available in the next few weeks.   You may QSL directly to N2OO, but online QSL requests are available and highly recommended.   For details see our website: http://www.kp5.us/qsls.htm.   Logs will be uploaded to LoTW and posted early next year.

    The Desecheo 2009 team wants to thank everyone for working us and helping to make this DXpedition such a success!

    73 and good DX!

    Bob Allphin, K4UEE, co-leader
    Glenn Johnson, WGJ, co-leader


    February 27, 2009
    Final K5D logs have been uploaded to the QSL lookup page.

    Groups #1 and #3 all reached Puerto Rico in good order and are either home now or on their way home.


    February 26, 2009
    And so... it's over..  The K5D 2009 Desecheo Island DXpedition is in the history books.

    Every one of our goals was exceeded; most significantly, the number of QSOs.  Total Qs: 115,728!

    Because our Special Use Permit (SUP) expires today, and because of the size/complexity of the infrastructure to dismantle, we decided to use helicopters to clear the island.  Flights began at 1100Z and will continue until all gear and personnel are safely back in Puerto Rico.

    Return here to our website for final photos and operations statistics later today or tonight.

    Thanks to all who worked and helped us; we think we've driven KP5 Desecheo to near the bottom of the "most wanted" list!

    More-or-less final pictures are up.


    February 25, 2009
    The OQRS QSL system is now activated.  You can get your K5D QSLs without mailing them your QSL.

    New photos up.


    February 24, 2009
    2300Z: After reaching the 100,000 QSO mark last night, instead of kicking back and coasting, the team has worked the bands harder than ever.  There are still so many people calling, many needing KP5 for a new one, the team has put their head down and kept going.

    Beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, we begin to scale back the operation and prepare for departure.  Just as when we ramped up, we will scale down with three stations remaining QRV until dawn (local time) on departure day, Thursday the 26th.

    Many antennas will come down tomorrow and equipment packed.  We enjoyed a beautiful sunset tonight and many of the team sensed that the end of this incredible adventure was drawing near.


    February 23, 2009
    0414Z: K5D completes QSO 100,1000!  the 100,000th Q was with E77U on 40M CW.

    First Video uploaded.

    1530Z: Yesterday was a fairly easy day for the K5D team.  No resupply boats, no water, gas or food to carry on our backs from the landing cove, no antenna work to do....just work the pileups.  We have begun to modify the radio schedule to try to pick up those areas of the world that have been obscured by the huge pileups from the population centers of NA, JA and EU.

    Also, as we approach the end of the operation, plans are being set for an orderly departure.  By the terms of our SUP (Special Use Permit) we must vacate the island no later than the 26th.  Our current plan is to begin removing equipment and infrastructure on Wednesday afternoon the 25th.  The last night (Wednesday) we will have have three stations QRV, emphasing 80m, 40m and 30m.  Departure will resume at sunrise on the 26th.

    The team is in good spirits and feels very good about what has been accomplished from this #6 "most needed" entity.  We are now confident of over 100,000 QSOs.


    February 22, 2009
    0230Z: New pictures added.


    February 21, 2009
    2300Z: Today was another very busy day for us.   In addition to trying to keep stations on the air and provide Deseceho as a new one to so many who still need it, we had our first visit from the resupply boat in five days.   Finally the seas moderated and the boat arrived with fuel, water and a fresh USFWS Law Enforcement contingent.   The first group was to rotate off the island on the 19th, but seas delayed that until today!  They were glad to go home to their families after pulling rotating security shifts since the 12th.   They are all great people and we enjoyed their constant company.

    We now have enough fuel to last through our departure and we will be able to run the amplifiers on all stations except 30 meters.   The boat Captain built a portable hoist and it was used to remove and swing the loads to the rocks.   From there everthing was carried the ¼ mile or so to the helicopter pad.   The folks from USFWS Law Enforcement and field research worked right along side...a true team effort.   The entire process took about five hours.   Some of the heavier items were not moved until after dark when temperatures had dropped.   If you noticed we were off the air for some time, you now know why.     The entire team was involved and the work took its toll, but they continue to perform without complaint.

    QSO count stands at 83,500 with approximately four days to go.


    February 20, 2009
    2030Z: Based on questions and comments we've received, we've restructured our operating plan for this weekend (from 0000Z Saturday until 2359Z Sunday).

    We will not be participating in the ARRL CW DX Contest.  This means we will be operating SSB and RTTY only on 80M, 40M, 20M, 15M and 10M.

    And, to give General Class operators a better chance to work us, we will be listening only in the General Class portion of all bands, all weekend long.

    Group #3 is here and up to speed and we know fresh operators will be a big help.


    0315Z: Group #3 all arrived safely this afternoon and Group #2 is now on their way home, tired but gratified by the experience.

    The seas are even higher and we've lost several antennas on the beach due to guy-points being washed away.  We'll work on restoring those antennas tomorrow.

    We now have a more robust internet connection and the gap between uploaded logs should begin to shrink.

    Note: While the online lookup function is very helpful, it cannot correct any problems we discover in the logs.  Those will be dealt with when we're off island.  In short, if you cannot find a Q in the online log, work us again just to be certain!


    February 19, 2009
    2000Z: More pictures are up.

    1800Z: At 5am local the seas were high and continued high all morning; we made the decision to use a helicopter to bring Group #3 over and to take Group #2 back to Rincon.  Once the decision was made, the seas became even higher as if to endorse that decision.  Group #3 took off from Rincon just now and in 4-5 trips we should have accomplished the swap.  In case you don't remember the plan:

    • Group #1 is the eight men who will be on Desecheo for the full two weeks

    • Group #2 is the seven men who started with Group#1 and are departing today

    • Group #3 is the seven men replacing Group #2 today

    Thanks to the operators of Group #2 who contributed mightily to the QSO count to-date!

    The first helicopter trip today sees the return of our internet tech with new equipment and software that will get us faster and more reliable internet communications.  We hope to update the online log search data more often starting this evening.

    QSOs are just over 65,000 at this writing.  To save fuel, we're running the entire camp on a single generator and reducing power on the amplifiers for the same reason.

    0300Z: The wind blew hard all night.  Fortunately no rain accompanied the system coming through.  The seas are spectacular with waves and spray going 30-40 feet into the air.  Great fun to watch, but doesn't bode well for the crew changeover scheduled for later today.

    We are on the helicopter pad hundreds of feet from the sea, but the sound can be heard through the pileups.

    Group #3 is safely settled in their hotel, a stones-throw from the boat departure point.  They completed UXO training tonight and are ready to come to the Island.  Forecasts for the next two days are for continued high seas making a boat landing extremely hazardous and thus not an option.  We can only hope the seas will die down as fast as they came up...the first sign will be the diminishing wind, but it has picked up again tonight and blowing hard.

    Radio operations continue to be productive with 6-7 stations QRV 24/7.  The QSO count is 60,000 as this is written, and everyone is having fun while working hard.

    All the antennas have survived so far and we've experienced no failures with any equipment.  Let's see what tomorrow brings!


    February 18, 2009
    More
    pictures added.

    More logs uploaded.

    00:40Z: Our internet link went down again today but we believe we have it working well enough for logs and some pix from time to time.  The Team continues to slug it out 24/7 with a heavy emphasis on EU and Asia.  QSOs approach 50,000 after 4 days.  We are optimistic with more than a week to go and a fresh crew coming in we will knock Desecheo 'way down the "most wanted" list.

    We have a WX forecast of heavy seas beginning late Wednesday and continuing Thursday.  Seven members of our Team (Group#2) are due to rotate off the island on Thursday and another seven arrive.  This is scheduled for Thursday morning via boat.  We are watching the WX closely and, of course, the boat captain has the last say.  Hopefully, if the changeover is delayed by WX, it will only be a 24 hour delay.  Late today our shelters get their first test with 25 kt winds coming through at sunset.  Everyone is working hard manning seven HF radios with a 6m station at the ready.  Sleep is at a premium!


    February 17, 2009
    First logs are up and available for lookup.

    01:20: Today we had the first re-supply boat from Rincon.  The boat brought gasoline, a few missing items from the helicoper trips and non-potable water.  It took away trash, empty water and gasoline containers.

    The heat today was oppressive; the hike from where the boat lands to where the camp is set up took a toll on the operators.

    The camp supports the fifteen Team operators as well as five personnel from the field research team and three members of law enforcement.  You'll see the camp in photos that we plan to have up soon.  Our QSO count is now above 37,000!

    Logs were sent to the "lookup site" today and will be available as soon as that site can make them ready.  Check our lookup link page to see when the lookup founction is enabled.


    February 15, 2009
    23:30Z: Operations are going well with 26,000 QSOs so far.  We now have seven HF stations on the air plus one on 6M.  All stations have dual antennas.

    Still no internet capablility so no logs uploaded yet.  The supply boat will be here tomorrow and we'll be sending the logs back to PR to be uploaded sometime tomorrow afternoon.  The boat will be bringing gear to (hopefully) repair one or both of our internet links, so we hope to have internet capability again sometime tomorrow.


    February 14, 2009
    23:30Z: Because of higher-than-expected winds which delayed helicopter trips, we were unable to complete our full setup on Thursday.  At this writing, those problems are behind us and the camp and all antennas are in place and working.

    The QSO count is just under 10,000 in the first 24 hours with only two stations operable for most of that time.  We now have five stations on the air hoping for two or three more tomorrow.

    We have no internet connectivity as our satellite link and our 900Mhz terrestrial link both failed.  We have a plan that should get them both working in a day or two.  In the meantime, no logs have been uploaded and, of course, no photos.  When the links are working you'll learn about it here.

    The Team is in high spirits and the weather is good now, nice breeze, calm seas but hotter than expected.

    Last night we were forced to move our 40M operation away from our planned frequency.  This was because of the RTTY contest which wiped out most of the band for us below 7.1MHz.  The contest ends tomorrow and we expect much better 40M performance especially to Europe.  We're sensitive to the fact that some EU countries/amateurs cannot transmit above 7.1MHz; this problem will self-resolve when the RTTY contest ends late tomorrow.


    February 13, 2009
    1600Z: K5D QRV!!! First contacts on 14.023 and 18.145


    February 12, 2009
    12:45Z: Due to high winds, several helicopter flights were delayed and we're running quite a bit behind schedule.  We still have a lot of infrastructure work to do (in the dark!) so we're forced to delay our planned QRV until tomorrow at 1600Z. We're sorry to disappoint but we just can't get the work done in time.  See you tomorrow!

    Per Glenn WGJ: 1600Z: "About half done moving gear to island.  Things going well.  Very, very HOT!"

    At 1240Z the first helicopter with five Team Members aboard took off from Rincon and a few minutes later landed safely on Desecheo Island.  The K5D Desecheo 2009 DXpedition is officially ON!

    QRV (single transmitter only) still planned near 0200Z tonight.


    February 11, 2009

    Today the Team accumulated all our equipment and all the gear for USFWS and the field research team (including all our food and personal gear) and prepared it for the helicopter external sling-load operation scheduled for tomorrow morning.  Altogether, it's more than seven tons!  The first flight will be at 1130Z tomorrow and flights will continue through (at least) mid-day local time.

    The Team is tired but in great spirits and we're all very excited about tomorrow!

    The staging point for helicopter operations is within sight of Desecheo and, when we took our lunch break today, we looked out at the island and the angry surf -- and knew we'd made the right decision about using helicopters.  Safety First!

    Here are some photos taken today while staging in Rincon; click HERE.


    February 10, 2009
    The K5D Team continues to prepare for its early Thursday AM departure for Desecheo Island.  Last night the Team met and had dinner with USFWS participants, law enforcement personnel and members of the field research team.  Due to continued questionable weather (which for some weeks has included large waves, dangerous surf, high winds and rain unusual for this time of year), the Team has made an important strategic decision.

    For safety reasons, all personnel and equipment will be transported to Desecheo Island by helicopter.  The possibility of Team members and crew members being injured, vessels being damaged and equipment being lost during a sea landing was too great a chance to take.

    Today, all of the equipment, supplies, antennas, generators, food, shelters, tables, chairs and so forth were unloaded from the storage facility and loaded into a large moving van for transfer to the helicopter pad.

    Tomorrow, representatives of the helicopter company will meet the Team, examine the cargo and prepare it for transit via sling load on Thursday morning.  A second helicopter will ferry personnel.  Because we're limited to only fourteen days on the island, doing it this way will allow us to get on the air sooner, stay on the air longer -- and all with a higher degree of safety.

    The Team has voted, if necessary, to contribute more money of their own to help contain these incremental costs.

    If you're inclined to contribute more to help, it would be appreciated.  To contribute, click HERE.

    Here are some photos taken today from Rincon; click HERE.

    Return often to this page for the latest information which will always be posted here first.


    February 8, 2009
    Everyone arrived safely in San Juan PR yesterday; the last group at about midnight.

    Last night we executed a contract for a helicopter to transport our heavier items including transceivers, amps, generators and shelters.

    Fifteen Team Members plus a half-dozen USFWS personnel completed UXO (UneXploded Ordnance) training this morning.

    Today was spent transiting from San Juan to our team HQ hotel in Rincon PR.  On the way, we stopped at the Arecibo Radio Telescope, visit courtesy Angel, WP3R.

    More news posted here as it becomes avaialble.

    Here are some photos taken today from Rincon; click HERE.


    February 6, 2009
    Desecheo 2009 Press Release # 5
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Today several Team members leave their homes and start their journey to Desecheo via Puerto Rico.  The entire fifteen-man Team will assemble by Saturday evening in San Juan.  Sunday morning will be devoted to the required UXO (unexploded ordnance) training and afterward the Team will travel to Rincon, Puerto Rico, the closest landfall to Desecheo.  The Lazy Parrot Hotel will be the team headquarters for the following four days.

    All equipment and antennas that we shipped have arrived and are in storage.  Most of our infrastructure supplies and equipment have been purchased locally and are also in our storage facility.

    The Team will spend Monday through Wednesday completing team training, finalizing assignments, testing generators and pre-assembling antennas.  The remaining shopping will also be completed.

    The SUP (Special Use Permit) will be presented to us in a special ceremony scheduled for Monday night.  With that in hand, we will finally be ready to activate the #6th "most-wanted" DXCC entity from February 12th-26th.  We hope to be QRV late in the day on the 12th, weather depending.

    Visit the new K5D Store (the button is about 2/3 down on every page) on our website: www.kp5.us There is a good selection of memorabilia including nice polo shirts, t-shirts, caps, mouse pads, and mugs.

    Financial support is being sought and is very welcome.  The "How you can help" button on the website makes it easy.  Larger contributions can be made tax-deductible (consult your tax advisor) if directed through the Northern California DX Foundation.  Details are found on our website.

    CU in the pileups,

    Bob Allphin, K4UEE
    Glenn Johnson W0GJ


    January 26, 2009
    Desecheo 2009 Press Release # 4
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    We have reserved the special call sign K5D for our upcoming Desecheo operation.   The operation will begin late in the day on Feb 12th.

    QSO philosophy...because Desecheo is so very rare (#6 worldwide, #3 in Europe and # 2 in Asia) there are many, many hams worldwide that need KP5 for an all-time new one.   Therefore, we are asking that you not contact the DXpedition on any band/mode that you have confirmed from a previous DXpedition.   This will allow the people who really need a new DXCC entity a better opportunity to get through the pileups.

    Our objective is not to establish a world record for contacts...there will be no "greenies", no boxes to check, no competitions for most band/mode QSOs, no certificate or awards for contacting the DXpedition more times than anyone else.   So, if you have KP5 already confirmed on a particular band/mode, we respectfully ask that you exercise restraint.   If, late in the DXpedition, we are calling CQ for contacts, we will welcome your call.

    The Team has encountered higher expenses than anticipated.   These mainly involve the transportation and feeding of other personnel that will be traveling to the island with us.   Approximately ten other personnel will share our campsite and facilities for the duration of the DXpedition.   They will be on Island with us to provide security and carry out field research.   Therefore, we ask that you consider a contribution to the DXpedition to help with these incremental expenses.   Just go to www.kp5.us and click the button that reads" How you can Help".

    We are all counting the days until we assemble in Puerto Rico on Feb 7th.

    Bob Allphin- K4UEE
    Glenn Johnson-WGJ
    K5D co-leaders


    January 6, 2009
    Desecheo 2009 European Press release #1
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


    KP5 Team Prepares for Europe!

    The KP1-5 Project is very aware of the need for KP5 in Europe.  Previous DXpeditions contended with an obstructed path to Europe making working this #3 most needed country difficult at best.  During the recent reconnaissance trip to KP5, agreement was reached that will allow antennas to be placed on a ridgeline above the helipad that will give a clear path to Europe!  The Team wants to provide as many EU hams with a QSO as possible.

    The following photos will show the problem and the plan:

    The KP1-5 Project would appreciate the support from each and every European ham as we prepare to activate KP5!  Please visit our website, www.kp5.us to support this DXpedition.


    January 6, 2009
    Desecheo 2009 Press release #3
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    During the week of December 17-21, six members of the February 2009 Desecheo DXpedition Team met in Puerto Rico.   The Team spent the first evening with local DXers and members of the Puerto Rico Amateur Radio League and enjoyed a wonderful dinner and a night of fellowship.   The hospitality was gracious and very much appreciated.

    The following day the Team visited US Fish and Wildlife Headquarters in Boqueron and met with the Chief Refuge Manager and law enforcement personnel.   Later that day, the DXpedition Team members underwent UXO (unexploded ordnance) training.   The following morning, Friday, Dec.   19th, they accompanied U.S.   Fish & Wildlife law enforcement and UXO personnel to Desecheo.   The campsite and antenna fields were thoroughly swept for UXO and several areas were found suspicious.   These areas were clearly marked, mapped by GPS and declared off limits for the DXpedition.   USFWS will allow antennas on the ridge above the helicopter pad, thus providing a clear shot to EU, NA and JA.   Other antennas will be located on the beach below the helicopter pad.   The only radio operation that was conducted was to test a 2m link to Puerto Rico.   After three hours on the Island, the Team endured a rough passage back to the mainland.

    Logistics and staging of equipment is ongoing and will be complete before the Team arrives in Puerto Rico on Feb.   7th.   The Team will transit to Desecheo on Feb.   12 to begin the two-week operation.   Eight HF stations plus 6 meters will be operational.   An incredible array of antennas has been planned.   Transportation and logistics have been arranged for a fast deployment and quick appearance on the air.

    The Desecheo 2009 Team wishes to thank our sponsors for their generous support.   Special thanks go to North American and Japanese DX clubs and individual DXers.   Their support has been especially noteworthy.

    Fundraising continues.if you or your Club would like to help out, please go to www.kp5.us/help.htm.   While on the Team website, click the "Pictures" menu button and check out the pictures taken on the recent reconnaissance trip to Desecheo.

    73,

    Co-leaders:
    Bob Allphin, K4UEE
    Glenn Johnson, WGJ


    December 20, 2008:
    A company specializing in tailored fitness programs for adventurous travelers, FitForTrips.com, has designed a training program for members of the Desecheo Team and made it available to interested amateurs world-wide.  Check it out by clicking HERE.

    December 19, 2008:
    The "Desecheo Reconnaissance Team" paid a one-day (no radios!) visit to the island to scout operating positions and make a preliminary sweep for any unexploded ordnance from when Desecheo was a bombing target in the 1940s.  A few suspicious readings were found and marked.  The Team returned with high hopes for a great DXpedition -- in only 54 days!

    November 24, 2008:
    Listen to an interview about how the 2009 Desecheo DXpedition came to be HERE.

    ARRL News: Dates for the Desecheo 2009 DXpedition set.


    November 21, 2008:
    Desecheo Island KP5 Press Release #2
    The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has notified the Team that February 12-26, 2009, will be the dates allocated for the radio operation.  These dates are coordinated with other USFWS research activities scheduled on other parts of Desecheo Island as well as scheduling USFWS security personnel for the camp.

    Fifteen operators will be allowed on the island at any given time.  A total of 6-8 stations will be operational, including 160-6 meters.

    A reconnaissance trip to Desecheo is scheduled for Friday, December 19.  Three Team members, USFWS personnel and an UXO (unexploded ordnance) expert will sweep and clear the assigned area of UXO and other hazards.  There will be no radio operation.

    The 15-man Team will assemble in Puerto Rico on February 8, 2009, for mandatory UXO training.  The next three days will include team operations training, and last minute preparation and staging of the several tons of equipment for transport.  On February 12th, landing will commence and two stations will be immediately activated.  Likewise, stations will continue to operate until the final moments before departure on February 26th.

    Halfway through the operation, on February 19th, approximately half of the operating team will be replaced with fresh operators for the final week.

    The Team has been diligently planning antennas and propagation paths to take advantage of every possible band opening to Asia, where Desecheo is #2 on the Most Wanted List and to Europe, where it is #3 on the Most Wanted List.

    Contributions are being solicited.  To assist us and for the latest news, please go to the team's website: www.kp5.us.

    73,
    Glenn Johnson, WGJ
    Bob Allphin, K4UEE
    Desecheo 2009 co-leaders


    October 4, 2008:
    KP1-5 Project Team selected to go to Desecheo Island

    The Caribbean National Wildlife Refuge Complex has selected and announced a team of operators to activate Desecheo Island (KP5) sometime between January 15, 2009 and March 30, 2009.  The Team will be co-led by Dr. Glenn Johnson, WGJ and Bob Allphin, K4UEE.

    Background: On June 30, 2008, the Caribbean National Wildlife Refuge office in Puerto Rico sent a letter to persons that had previously made inquiries about an Amateur Radio operation from Desecheo.  They announced their decision to allow one group to activate the island and invited proposals that must adhere to strict guidelines and criteria.  Applicants had 45 days to prepare and submit their proposals.

    CNWR received seven written proposals.  A panel of three Fish and Wildlife Service employees, from areas within the Service outside of the Caribbean refuge, spent September 24 & 25 reviewing and evaluating the proposals.  The selection criteria used were those outlined in the proposal invitation letter.  Points were awarded for how well criteria were addressed for thoroughness and documentation.

    The proposal with the highest ranking was submitted by Team Leaders Dr. Glenn Johnson, WGJ, and Bob Allphin, K4UEE.  Their plan involves a Team of fifteen operators for a 14-day operation.

    USFWS has not announced the actual dates of the operation yet, but the DXpedition is expected to take place between January 15, 2009 and March 30, 2009.  A Special Use Permit (SUP) will be issued as per USFWS regulations.  We expect that the DXpedition Team and DXers worldwide will have a minimum of 30 days notice.


    October 8, 2008:
    From ARRL News

    American Hams to Lead 2009 DXpedition to Desecheo Island

    This map shows Desecheo and Puerto Rico.   Desecheo is located about 14 miles off the Puerto Rican coast.

    The Texas DX Society mounted a DXpedition to Desecheo in 1985.   Operators included Charles Coleman II, K5LZO (SK); Charles Coleman III, KA5SBS; Frank Wyatt, KC5M; Thomas Shapiro, KD5SP; Dennis Motschenbacher, KZ5M (now K7BV); Bob Evans, N5DU (now K5WA); Luis Ortiz, NP4C; Carlos Flores Roman, NP4KA; George De Montrond, NR5M, and Jose Maldonado, WP4ATF.   [Photo courtesy of the Texas DX Society]

    Bob Allphin, K4UEEGlenn Johnson, WGJ

    The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has selected a group of hams led by veteran DXpeditioners Bob Allphin, K4UEE, and Glenn Johnson, WGJ, to lead a DXpedition to Desecheo Island, KP5 (IOTA NA-095), in early 2009.   Desecheo currently sits at number 7 on DX Magazine's Most Wanted list.

    Desecheo is a small uninhabited island in the Mona Passage, 14 miles off the western coast of Puerto Rico.   It is part of the FWS's national wildlife refuge system administered by the Caribbean National Wildlife Refuge Complex (CNWR).

    Johnson told the ARRL that about eight years ago, a group of DXers wanting to activate Navassa and Desecheo Islands formed an organization, the KP1-5 Project.   According to its Web site, "The purpose of the KP1-5 Project is to work toward a solution to the closure of Desecheo and Navassa Islands to Amateur Radio operators by achieving lawful, periodic access to these islands pursuant to US Fish and Wildlife Service authorization.   While operating from these islands is a worthwhile goal, the KP1-5 Project is dedicated to a long term partnership that jointly benefits the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Amateur Radio operators worldwide."

    In 2005, H.R. 1183 was introduced in the US House of Representatives.   This bill, while not specifically mentioning Amateur Radio operations, would require "limited public access to the Desecheo and Navassa national wildlife refuges." While this bill did not become law, the KP1-5 Project continued to negotiate with the FWS, seeking permission to mount a DXpedition and activate Desecheo Island.   Through these negotiations, the FWS, by way of the CNWR, invited written proposals from groups interested in activating the island.

    In June 2008, CNWR invited written proposals from hams who had previously made inquiries about an Amateur Radio operation from Desecheo; CNWR indicated that they would allow one group to activate the island.   After reviewing the proposals, CNWR would then select a group and prepare to issue a Special Permit to the successful party, limiting the group to no more than 15 people staying no longer than 14 days.   Applicants had 45 days to prepare and submit their proposals.   According to Allphin, seven groups submitted proposals.

    The CNWR also stated certain conditions that would have to met to be considered for selection, such as completing unexploded ordnance awareness training (Desecheo has been used in the past by the US Air Force as a bombing range and for survival training), prior experience conducting a DXpedition from a natural resource area and other sites, removing all refuse from the island and locating all transmission equipment and camping facilities within 200 feet of the cement helipad on the island.   According to the solicitation letter, CNWR personnel will make periodic compliance checks during the stay.

    "A panel of three Fish and Wildlife Service employees, from areas within the Service outside of the Caribbean refuge, spent September 24 & 25 reviewing and evaluating the [seven] proposals," Allphin said.   "The selection criteria used were those outlined in the proposal invitation letter.   Points were awarded for how well criteria were addressed for thoroughness and documentation.   USFWS has not announced the actual dates of the operation yet, but the DXpedition is expected to take place between January 15 and March 30, 2009.   A Special Use Permit will be issued as per USFWS regulations." Allphin said he expects that the DXpedition Team and DXers worldwide will have a minimum of 30 days' notice prior to the start of the trip to Desecheo.

    "It was truly an honor to have our proposal and Team selected from the stiff competition," Johnson told the ARRL.   "This has been a true team effort on our part from the start.   We look forward to activating an entity in the Top 10 Most Wanted that is located in our own back yard!"

    According to ARRL Membership and Volunteer Programs Manager and experienced DXpeditioner Dave Patton, NN1N, both Desecheo and Navassa Islands (currently third on DX Magazine's Most Wanted list) saw frequent operations in the late 1970s through late '80s, but operations from the islands have been very limited since then.   With the islands under the control of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, combined with decaying "infrastructure" on Navassa, there are more issues that must be dealt with than there were 25 years ago.

    "A well-organized and lengthy operation from Desecheo will be a nice treat for the world's DXers," Patton said.   "With WGJ and K4UEE leading the operation, I think we can all count on a first class effort that will give maximum exposure to Asia/Oceania and Europe where KP5 is most needed.   I also think that Glenn and Bob can demonstrate to the Fish and Wildlife Service that a DXpedition can take place and not damage the environment or cause big problems amongst other hams or for other agencies.   I hope hams will be invited back to Desecheo more frequently in the future and expand the places where hams may operate."

    Dennis Motschenbacher, K7BV (ex-KZ5M), fondly recalled his part in the Texas DX Society's 1985 DXpedition to Desecheo, telling the ARRL what made his time there so special: "KP5 -- what incredible memories for me.   It was my first 'classic' DXpedition; meaning putting a tiny island on the air after landing on the beach in a small boat and hauling all the gear up the rocks.   This one took 24 hours of manual labor to get everything from the small beach, over the rocks, and to the operating area -- quite a task for a bunch of guys that spent more time behind a desk than they did at the gym! To this day, I have never had the pleasure and excitement of working down huge pileups like we experienced on KP5 -- I can still hear them in my ears.   I know that Bob, Glenn and their crew will do a fantastic job lowering this Top 10 rare one down the needed list.   I am so happy for each and everyone operator going in 2009.   I know in my heart this will be a trip that even the most well-traveled of them will remember for the rest of their lives.

    In 1979, upon the recommendation of the DX Advisory Committee (DXAC), Desecheo Island was added to the DXCC list for contacts made after March 1 of that year.   KP4AM/D -- with operators N4EA, KP4Q, N4ZC, KP4DSD, KV4KV (now KP2A), KP4AM (now W4DN) -- made the first DXpedition Desecheo in March 1979.   Various groups have made their way to Desecheo since the first trip, but other than a brief operation in December 2005, there has been no activity from the island since 1994.

    According to DXCC Manager Bill Moore, NC1L, the lack of activity is due to the FWS not issuing the needed Special Use permits.   "The FWS has always claimed safety concerns as a reason to not issue the permits," he said.   "Since the island was used as a bombing range, there is the possibility that unexploded, live munitions are still on the island. It is always a good thing when an entity that had activation difficulties in the past gets on the air again."


    Website update log
    Click HERE to see updates to the website.