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. She commissioned by the US Army on 16th August 1944.

On 6th September 1944, she left New York for the Southwest Pacific where she operated during World War 2.  On 12th October 1945, the Coast Guard crew was removed and she was decommissioned.

She was acquired by the US Navy at Apra, Guam on 2nd March 1947 and commissioned as USS Deal on 3rd August 1947.She was reclassified as a Light Cargo Ship on 31st March 1949.

With the outbreak of war in Korea, Deal operated as part of the 7th Fleet in logistics support of the United Nations forces and visited other ports in Japan, Formosa, the Pescadores, Okinawa, and the Philippines until 28th February 1955 when she returned to the United States.

She was de-commissioned on 8th September 1955 and arrived at Astoria Bay on 13th April, 1955 to be laid up in the Pacific Reserve Fleet.

Deal was sold on 18th December 1961 and became a cargo ship, (re-named Don Carlos), in the Caribbean banana trade.

On 8th January 1963 she was again re-named – as Olga Patricia, registered in Columbia and chartered by AD S. Cargo Ltd. of Miami.

In 1966 she was purchased by Viscaya Inc. and fitted out as a radio ship at Dade Drydock Coporation’s shipyard at Dodge Island, Biscayne Bay, Miami.

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.

There is something of a mystery about what happened to the ship between 1967 and 1974, when she was re-named Akuarius II. There are strong rumours (and records from former Radio London owner, Don Pierson) that the ship was used as a secret relay station off the coast of Cuba. Also somewhere along the line the identity of the ship at Lloyds Register of Shipping has become meshed with her sister ship Olga Princess.

In 1974 the ship was re-named again as the Earl Conrad Junior, and used as a menhaden fishing vessel off the coast of Virginia, USA, She was scrapped in Mississippi in June 2011.

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)

unknown photographer