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RNI - History (3)

The day after the Election RNI dropped the Radio Caroline call sign - its objective of putting the Labour Party out of power had been achieved, but its hope that the incoming Conservative Government would immediately stop the jamming did not materialise.

Representatives of RNI met the new British Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, Christopher Chattaway, to discuss the situation but came away without any assurance that the jamming signal would be switched off. In fact on 14th July the Minister announced in Parliament that, contrary to assurances given by his party before the June General Election, the jamming of RNI's signal would now continue indefinitely.

The weeks of jamming and resultant frequency changes had badly affected the commercial viability of RNI and with no assurance forthcoming from the British authorities that the jamming would stop the station's owners decided they had had enough. Transmissions were discontinued at 10.55am on 23rd July 1970 and the Mebo II raised her anchor and sailed back to Holland, anchoring off Scheveningen the following day. Broadcasting started once again on all frequencies at 7.00am - without any sign of a jamming signal from the British authorities.

On 27th July 1970 the Dutch PTT complained to RNI's head office that the medium wave transmissions on 244m were interfering with the Hilversum 3 station on 240m. Three days later complaints were received that the FM transmissions were interfering with the Netherlands Bus Company's communications, so on 31st July all transmissions from the Mebo II were stopped yet again.

The station was back on the air by 3rd August 1970 on new frequencies and programmes were presented from 6.00am - 3.00am . Everything went well for about two weeks until a storm on 17th August 1970 damaged the medium wave transmitter putting it off the air for five days. A further set of frequency changes took place on 23rd August when medium wave  and FM transmissions were changed.

While all this activity was going on out at sea events involving RNI ashore were equally bizarre. In early August 1970 Amsterdam night club owner Kees Manders (who for a short time in 1959 had been involved with Radio Veronica as its  'Artistic Director') announced that he was RNI's new Commercial Director and would secure advertising for the station now that it had returned to the Dutch coast. Three weeks later the RNI tender, Mebo I, was arrested and chained up in Scheveningen Harbour as the result of court action taken by Manders  who claimed he was owed money in advertising commission. Both Erwin Meister and Edwin Bollier denied ever even hiring Manders to sell airtime on RNI.

Matters came to a head on 29th August 1970 when, at about 1.20pm the crew on board Mebo II sighted two vessels heading towards the radio ship - the tug Huski and a Panamanian registered launch, Viking.

The Viking came alongside Mebo II and Kees Manders boarded the radio ship demanding to talk to the master, Captain Hardeveld. Manders offered the Captain an amount of money to take the radio ship into Scheveningen Harbour, but when this was refused he threatened to cut the anchor chain and tow in the Mebo II himself, using the tug Huski. Manders then left the radio ship and the Viking drew away.

DJs made dramatic appeals over the air for RNI's listeners to telephone the station's head office in Zurich and its representatives staying at the Grand Hotel, Scheveningen. The response to these appeals was so large that Scheveningen telephone exchange was blocked for over an hour and the one in Zurich went out of action completely - unable to cope with the massive volume of incoming international calls.

After a short while the Huski and Viking both sailed towards the radio ship again and from the deck of the Mebo II the crew and DJs repelled the would-be boarders with missiles. The Huski then sailed to the bow of the Mebo II and attempts were made by those on board to cut the radio ship's anchor chain. At this point RNI staff threatened to throw petrol bombs at their attackers if they did not pull away. Throughout this drama listeners were given a running commentary of events with continuous announcements requesting assistance and stating that the ship was being attacked in an act of piracy on the high seas.

Hijacking announcements, 29th August 1970

Hijacking announcements August 1970.mp3

Click on picture to enlarge

The tug Huski approaches Mebo II

Appeal for help as the Huski approaches Mebo II, 29th August 1970

RNI appeal for help as Huski arrives August 1970.mp3

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Kees Manders

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