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Olga Patricia = Laissez Faire

 

Ship details: The Olga Patricia (formerly called FS263, Deal and Don Carlos) was built in New York in 1944, as a 480 ton landing craft 186 feet long. During the Korean war the cargo vessel was used to carry the bodies of GI's killed in Korea back to the USA.

In early 1966 the Olga Patricia was for sale in Panama, and was purchased by Peir-Vick Ltd. The ship sailed from the Panama Canal zone to Dodge Island shipyard at Biscayne Bay, Miami. Here the Olga Patricia was fitted out as a radio ship.

It was a lumbering old ship and I think the top speed on it was 10 knots and we sailed out of Miami and once we hit the Gulf Stream between New York and Bermuda the mast of the ship, which had been converted to the antenna for the radio station, actually snapped because the sea was so rough and fell oberboard. It had uge stays attached to it and the crew didn´t have anything to cut the stays with so we actually dragged the 100ft. mast hanging off the side of the ship all the way to the Azores! We put in port there for about a week so they could cut the stays and then hauled the mast back on board. We then went to Lisbon in Portugal and were there for about three weeks to have the mast refitted and then we went to Harwich... [Information by Jerry Smithwick in Offshore Echo´s Magazine 118]

Following instructions by Continental Electronics the ship headed for the Azores, but when it arrived no engineers were there. New instructions said the ship should head for Lisbon. The ship was delayed and kept for several weeks and then told a new antenna could not be made there. The engineer did not know that Continental had a resident agent in Lisbon. The ship was then told to make for its anchorage off the coast of Essex.

On 3rd August 1966 the ship dragged her anchor due to bad weather. During storms on the next day the ship lost its anchor and drifted, calls for help were answered by the Walton and Frinton lifeboat which stood by and a tug and the ship was towed back to her anchorage. The conditions aboard the ship around Christmas 1966 were unpleasant. No cook on board, fresh drinking water had run out and the crew and DJ's had to live on corn beef and spaghetti as there was no other food on board.

On 22nd February the station left the air suddenly as the two-hundred and ten foot mast broke. On 28th February the ship sailed to Zaandam harbour for repairs. New backers had been found for the stations, Mr Murphy and Mr Langford III. While in Amsterdam the ship was renamed the Laissez Faire. On 1st March Carstead Advertising Ltd opened its office in Berthalo straat, Amsterdam. On 14th March the Laissez Fair left Zaandam harbour and sailed towards IJmuiden and then back to its anchorage at Walton on the Naze. During the next day the ship was back at its old anchorage.

On 19th August 1967 the Laissez Faire sailed to Vlissingen (Netherlands) to have the mast removed. On 1st September the vessel set sail for Miami, Florida where it arrived on 22nd September with the mast broken and twisted. The crew on board claimed that the damage happened when they sailed through a hurricane. In 1969 there was a rumour that the MV Laissez Faire was reequipped by the US Government, and was used to broadcast to the troops in Vietnam. In 1970 The MV Laissez Faire was renamed Akuarius II. Four years later, the Akuarius II was renamed Earl J. Conrad Junior and was used a cargo vessel.

In the year 2000 the ship is still called the Earl J Conrad, which is the name of the managing director of Heiney Proteins which have owned the boat since 1974. [Information by John S. Platt]

The references in the Olga Patricia listing are totally incorrect and this includes your latest entry. We have all of the ship´s papers and we have thoroughly researched the history of this vessel. First it was NOT bought by the party named in your listing. Peir-Vick Ltd was merely a locul dummy company formed by William Vick in London - like Radlon Sales Ltd, a front company formed by Philip Birch. Neither company owned a vessel. Second the vessel does not link from 1970 to the present. We have documentation and news story of the vessel in Florida in 1970 - but there were two Olga ships - one was the Patricia and the other had another name. The two vessels have been merged into one ship in the Lloyd´s record - either by design to cover up an activity off Cuba - or by mistake. The Lloyd´s records are not reliable. More on this in the future. [Contribution by Paul John Lilburne-Byford]

There is a mystery indeed about the Olga Patricia because somewhere after 1971 her history was fused with that of her sister ship Olga Princess, and the purpose seems to have been to make the Olga Patricia disappear from view. She was going to be sold by Don Pierson (I have government letters from all over the world), and then she was to have become Radio London off New York, and then Radio London off California (I have maps, locations and investment data). Then she was to have been Don's home base for his Haiti project. But Don Pierson told me personally that he had been told she became a secret relay station to Cuba for a time in the 1970s. [Information by John England]

Offshore radio station: Swinging Radio England from 3rd May 1966 to 13th November 1966, Radio Dolfijn from 14th November 1966 to 22nd February 1967, Britain Radio from 30th April 1966 (first tests) to 22nd February 1967, Radio 227 from 15th March to 23rd July 1967, Radio 355 from 15th March to 6th August 1967

Location: International Waters off Walton-on-the-Naze (UK)