Banaba Island, formerly known as Ocean Island, had not been activated by amateur radio when Jim, VK9NS and Bob, KN6J went there in May 1989. These new DXCC countries keep popping up from time to time, and Banaba was just one such recent addition to the DXCC list.
It was not the easiest place to reach, but there was a shipping service operating out of Tarawa in Kiribati so Jim made inquiries about the possibility of travelling to Banaba Island from Tarawa. This was okay, but other arrangements had to be made for the return trip to Tarawa, which meant a 'charter' to go and collect the operators.
Banaba had been extensively mined for phosphate for many years with the result that both the local population and the Island itself suffered in the process. Very few people live on Banaba these days, and the Island resembles a moon landscape with jagged peaks of coral jutting out of the ground. There is no electricity, no water and no down-town store for shopping, so everything needed had to be arranged beforehand.
'Island hopping' in order to reach some particular island in the Pacific often means luggage being left behind somewhere or lost altogether. So also with Jim and Bob when, on arrival in Tarawa, they found that most of their equipment had not arrived. It was in fact only thanks to the ship's departure date being several days delayed that Jim and Bob got most of their equipment in time for departure to Banaba Island. Once there, however, they were made welcome by the locals and housed in 'Banaba House’, which afforded comfortable accommodation for their two weeks stay.
The DXpedition call was T33JS with Bob using T33RA for RTTY where he made over 800 QSOs. The local population were very interested in what Jim and Bob were doing and were amazed to hear that they had talked to places like the Vatican, the U.S.A., England and so on. They provided two "Island get-togethers," one organised by the Protestant Church and the other by the Catholic Church, where Jim and Bob were made welcome as guests of honour.There was also time to sightsee the phosphate processing site. All the equipment is still in place, but gradually rusting away together with old abandoned cars and other vehicles.
27,231 QSOs were made during this first DXpedition to a new DXCC country.