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Radio Delmare - History

Rumours of a new offshore station off the coast of the Netherlands began to appear during the summer of 1978. On 23rd June Dutch Police and PTT officials seized transmitters, records, tapes and studio equipment from on board a coaster, Aegir, moored in Scheveningen Harbour.

The proposed new offshore radio station, Radio Delmare, was being planned by a group of free radio enthusiasts under the leadership of Gerard van Dam, who had been instrumental in returning the Mi Amigo to sea in 1972 and had worked as a DJ on RNI and Radio Atlantis under the name Gerard van der Zee. Both Gerard van Dam and the Aegir had previously featured in an abortive offshore radio project in 1975 when plans had been announced to use the vessel as a base to re-launch Radio Veronica.

Radio Delmare had grown out of a landbased pirate project which had been running in several Dutch cities since early 1977 under the call sign Weekend Music Radio.

After the police raid on the Aegir Gerard van Dam announced that, despite the setback he would continue with his plans and have the new station on the air soon.

Although all the radio broadcasting equipment was confiscated in the raid the Aegir herself had not been detained and on 26th June 1978 she slipped out of Scheveningen Harbour, anchoring at sea near the former REM Island (home of Radio Noordzee/TV Noordzee in 1964). Two days later the vessel entered the port of Maasluis, near Rotterdam, and over the next few weeks she was moved to various locations where more broadcasting equipment was installed without the authorities apparently realising what was happening.

During late August 1978 the Aegir anchored near the Dutch/Belgian border off Cadzand. Much work had been secretly carried out on the vessel and she was now once again equipped as a radio ship. A wire aerial had been slung between the Aegir's two masts and the vessel was reported to be stocked with six months supply of food and provisions.

Once safely anchored in international waters test broadcasts started under the call sign Radio Delmare at midday on 21st August 1978 consisting of non-stop music tapes and some live programmes presented by the station's instigator, Gerard van Dam, using his DJ name Gerard van der Zee. Transmitter power at this time was less than 500 watts and a mailing address in Spain was given out regularly for reception reports. Intermittent tests continued over the next few days with slight changes in frequencies and variations in signal strength.Radio Delmare QSL card

Official programmes from Radio Delmare began at 7.00am on 7th September 1978, but after only a few days on air disaster struck. A Force 9 gale had been blowing throughout the night of 10/11th September and  the Aegir was reported to be out of control and drifting in a north easterly direction. Her two anchor chains had snapped and the ship's engines failed. Distress calls were broadcast in place of normal programmes on the medium wave frequency.

An immediate rescue operation got underway  and  the salvage tug Smitbank put a tow line aboard the Aegir and took the radio ship to Maasluis near Rotterdam where the four men on board were arrested and questioned before being released.

On the orders of Public Prosecutor the Aegir was chained up in Maasluis and PTT officials seized the transmitting equipment, although the crew had managed to throw the valves overboard during the towing operation. That appeared to be the end of Radio Delmare.

However, in April 1979 Gerard van Dam  leased the Martina for use as a new ship to house Radio Delmare. The Dutch authorities, suspicious of what was going on, boarded the ship in the port of Jacobshaven the same month, but were unable to take any action because there was no transmitting equipment on board at that time. On 29th April 1979 the Martina (now known unofficially as Aegir II) sailed quietly out of Jacobshaven and anchored off the coast of Goeree in the same position as the former Radio Delmare ship Aegir in 1978 and remained there awaiting the installation of radio equipment.

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Radio Delmare QSL (reception report verification) card

VOO TV news report about preparations for the launch of Radio Delmare.

August 1978


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