Rules and Procedures

Routine Calls

Emergency Transmissions

Urgency and Safety Calls

The Phonetic Alphabet

Standard Vocabulary

Marine Radio (Summary)

The information given below only deals briefly with the different types of marine equipment available. More information is available through your local coast guard station.

There are three types of marine radio (radiotelephony) transceivers;

  • 27 MHz (27 meg)
  • VHF (Very High Frequency) – operating around 150 MHz
  • MF/HF (medium & high frequency, referred to as HF) – operating between 2 & 16 MHz

27 MHz radio

This radio is inexpensive and easy to install, making it ideal for small vessels. It has a short-range, “line-of-sight” communication range of between 5.5 and 27 nautical miles. However, of the three types of radios, this one is the most susceptible to “noise” from engines and thunderstorms.

VHF radio

This radio offers the highest quality signals of all the marine radios, suffering least from interference caused by weather and ignition sources. It has a communications range of between 11 and 27 nautical miles or further under favourable conditions, but does suffer blindspots behind cliffs, sanddunes and heavy vegetation. Users of VHF radios require a licence to operate the equipment.

The distress frequency on this radio is channel 16.. Some VHF radios are equipped with an Auto Seaphone facility which enables direct dialing to any subscriber. Please read your manual for instructions in how to use this facility. Newer VHF radios are fitted with Digital Selective Calling (DSC).

Why a Mobile Phone Is Not Sufficient

Marine radio is superior to a mobile phone because it broadcasts emergencies to ALL stations and can be located with detection equipment in a search and rescue situation.

Master’s Authority

Ship stations operate under the authority of the master, skipper or person responsible for the safety of the vessel. Distress calls may only be sent on the authority of the master, skipper or person responsible for the safety of the vessel.