Ship details: In 1968, Abie Nathan purchased a 170 foot, 570 ton Dutch freighter Cito built in Delfzijl, Groningen (Netherlands) in April 1940 at the Gebr. van Diepen, Waterhuizen shipyard. The ship was originally named Rolf, renamed Westpolder in 1950, and Cito in 1960. Abie renamed the ship Peace and registered it in Panama. In 1969 the ship sailed from Amsterdam under the command of Captain Jaap Stengs, trying to raise funds. It was only after the twenty strong volunteer crew went on hunger strike that funds started to roll in. Three years were spent in America, anchored in New York harbour, where they were served a summons for being a danger to the health and welfare of the citizens of New York. Most of the money raised went on paying harbour fees. After a ten day hunger strike by Abie in 1973, more money started to arrive. A 50,000 Watt transmitter was installed and a 160 foot aerial mast erected. The mast was originally intended for the Mebo II, but was donated and air freighted to New York when the Mebo II was purchased. On 16th March 1973, the MV Peace set sail from New York into the Atlantic. A short test broadcast was made on 1540 Khz. A leak developed and the ship went to Bermuda for repairs. The ship then sailed towards Israel. A storm forced the ship to take shelter off the coast of Cyprus. Another leak developed and contaminated the fresh water supply. The Peace returned to Marseilles for repairs. On 20th April, the MV Peace arrived in Marseilles. The ships captain Francois Bonzon and Abie persuaded the Marseille prostitutes to donate one nights takings to the Peace ship.
On 21st May 1973, the Peace ship set sail for Israel. During the October war the ship moved to the Suez Canal, while the soldiers listened to the station, but they only laughed at requests to lay down their arms. On 5th October, an Israeli gunboat ordered the Voice of Peace to close down, on the outbreak of the Middle East War. On 25th December, the vessel anchored off Italy. The Peace arrived in Marseilles at the beginning of the New Year 1974. Rumours circulated that the ship was for sale, but these turned out to be false, just waiting for new backers. While the ship was in Marseilles it was dry docked and many items repaired.
In May 1975 the MV Peace left harbour heading for Egyptian waters. It was hoped the Peace ship would be able to join the first convoy through the Suez canal after its reopening. But the Egyptians did not let the ship enter the Suez Canal, and the MV Peace was guarded by Egyptian boats. In June the Peace ship left Egyptian waters and broadcast an appeal to be allowed to use of the Canal. The ship headed north to an anchorage off Ashdod. It continued northwards and entered harbour in Haifa. Funds were again low, and Abie went fund raising. In January 1977, a convoy left Port Said and finally the MV Peace was allowed through the Canal, after proving that the ship was not Israeli. In the afternoon the convoy arrived at Suez and the Peace ship continued towards Eilat. On 4th January the MV Peace arrived at Eilat. On 10th January broadcasts resumed, but only after the MV Peace travelled back through the Canal to its old anchorage off Tel Aviv.
In March 1980 the MV Peace went to Haifa and was dry docked to repair storm damage, and allow examination for insurance purposes so the Lloyds of London certificate could be renewed. In May 1988 the MV Peace sailed to Haifa and was overhauled and given a new coat of paint in dry dock. In January 1993 the MV Peace was again dry docked in Haifa and overhauled.
In October 1993 the MV Peace sailed to Ashdod where the studio equipment, generators and transmitter parts were removed from the ship. On 28th November, the MV Peace set sail on her final voyage, fifteen miles off the Israeli coast, reaching the destination at about 12:00 hours. The hull plugs were removed from the engine room and lower hold, and the pumps switched on, to pump water into the ship. At 19:33 hours the ship sank.
Offshore radio station: Voice of Peace from 26th May to 4th November 1973 and from 28th May 1975 to 1st October 1993
Mike Brand reporting:
The Voice of Peace ship “MV Peace” sailed from Amsterdam. They tried to raise funds for the station while sailing to New York, where the ship stayed for 3 years through lack of funds.
15th March. A test broadcast was made from the Voice of Peace, while in New York harbor.
26th May. Regular programmes commenced from the Voice of Peace.
4th November. The Voice of Peace closed down through lack of advertising .
The ship was taken back to Marseilles, France.
28th May. The Voice of Peace left Marseilles, and broadcast a thank you programme to the people of France.
June. The MV Peace tried to sail through the Suez cannal.
January. The MV Peace is anchored off Tel Aviv.
January. Due to the Gulf War the MV Peace moves to 10 miles off Tel Aviv coast.
December. Voice of Peace programmes are broadcast on Euronet via the European satellite “Astra”.
1st October. The Voice of Peace closes down. It does not resume broadcasting from land-based studios.
28th November. The MV Peace is sunk fifteen miles off the Israeli coast.
In May of 1973, Israels most famous offshore radio station took to the air. Like others before it changed the face of (Israeli) broadcasting. Although not particularly aimed at the Israeli audience, it quickly took off in Israel, and became the No.1 station amongst the youth. So much so, that in 1976, the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) completely revamped all their stations (exactly like England nine years earlier),and Israel´s first ever pop radio station was born – Reshet gimmel – Network Three – to compete directly with the Voice Of Peace.
A survey carried out by state radio station places the Voice of Peace as the most popular station, taking 40% of the listeners.
A lot happened to the VOP in their 20 year history, but there is no doubt that it left its mark on Israeli and world broadcasting. Many famous DJ’s broadcast with the VOP over the years – Tony Allan, Crispian St John (Howard Rose), and Kenny Page to mention just three. For a full history of the VOP, I recommend Jim Parkes’ “Encyclopedia Of Offshore Radio”. Ex-VOP-DJ Sagi Levek features Jim Parkes’ Voice of Peace history on an own excellent web site.
The final days of the VOP occured when Abie Nathan decided that because the Israeli government and the PLO were talking to each other, there was no need for the VOP anymore. The REAL reasons were that debts were mounting, competition from Israeli legal stations and the soon to be introduced local commercial stations in Israel, all played a factor in the closure of the VOP.
The end went like this ……………
1st October. 09:00 the last program was aired from the Voice of Peace, giving some of the history of the station.
The mayor of Tel Aviv, Shlomo Lahat went out to the ship and took part in the broadcast at 13:00, he stated he would promise an anchorage for the MV Peace in Tel Aviv harbour and the ship would be rebuilt as a peace museum.
The station closed with Pete Seeger’s “We shall Overcome” instead of theusual station theme.
14:57 The transmitters were switched off and the Voice of Peace closed down.
For the next few days the MV Peace remained anchored off the coast of Tel Aviv, waiting to be taken into port and converted into a museum.
The Government kept changing it’s mind over plans for the ship. While still offshore the transmitters were run and several test broadcasts were made.
Abie Nathan grew impatient and ordered the studios and transmitters to be disassembled.
Afterwards the MV Peace sailed to Ashdod where the studio equipment, generators and transmitter parts were removed from the ship.
28th November. The MV Peace set sail on her final voyage, fifteen miles off the Israeli coast, reaching the destination at about 12:00.
The hull plugs were removed from the engine room and lower hold, and the pumps switched on, to pump water into the ship.
19:33 the ship sank, the last pictures being taken by a Reuters agency photographer.
12th July. Abie Nathan donated the Nutel 25,000 Watt solid state transmitter to the Palestinian radio station “Voice of Palestine” based in Jericho.
The two 20,000 Watt Harris valve transmitters and studio equipment was placed in storage in a Tel Aviv warehouse, the location is unknown.
The cartridge cassettes of VoP jingles, CD’s and records were given to some Israeli people.
While visiting Washington D.C. USA, Abie Nathan suffered a stroke which left him partially paralysed. He is now recovering in a rest home in Ramat Hasharon, just outside of Tel Aviv.
Location: Just within national waters off Tel-Aviv (Israel)