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Boating Safety Tip of the Day
VHF Marine Radio

A VHF Marine radio connects you with the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard does NOT monitor CB radio or family walkie-talkies.  Get s VHF marine radio. Get one for your boat or your paddle craft. VHF marine is your emergency link to the Coast Guard.

Posts Tagged ‘VHF radio’

Date: July 08, 2012
Contact: 14th District Public Affairs
Office: (808) 535-3230

MAUI, Hawaii – Coast Guardsmen and members of the Maui County Police Department responded to kayakers in distress off the northwest coast of Moloka’i, near Kaluako’i Villas, at approximately 7 p.m. Saturday.

Coast Guard Sector Honolulu watchstanders received a call on 16, reporting four kayakers in distress. The reporting party told watchstanders one of the kayaks was getting swamped with water while the other was getting swept out to sea. The reporting party, one of the kayakers, utilized a hand-held VHF radio to call for assistance.

A Coast Guard aircrew piloting an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Barbers Point, the crew aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Ahi and a crew aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium from Station Honolulu were sent to respond. The Dolphin aircrew located one of the kayakers and hoisted him into the helicopter. The other three were located safely ashore by members of the Maui County Police Department.

This case was successful due to the ’s use of the VHF radio and a lifejacket. VHF radios provide the most reliable communications while on the water. The Coast Guard strongly recommends mariners purchase, maintain and carry a aboard their vessels.

The Coast Guard also recommends mariners wear lifejackets at all times when aboard any type of watercraft. Lifejackets greatly increase changes of during an emergency.

For more information contact Lt. Leigh Cotterell, the Sector Honolulu public affairs officer at 808-292-3692.


Saving Lives and Guarding the Coast Since 1790.
The — Proud History. Powerful Future.

Kayakers, and Stand-Up Paddleboarders in Southern Maryland take note! Wear your and carry a !

7th District
U.S. Coast Guard
News Release

Date: December 2, 2011

Contact: District Public Affairs
(305) 415-6683

MIAMI — With the holiday season upon us, the Coast Guard encourages boaters throughout South Florida and the Florida Keys to consider some potentially life saving stocking stuffers.

With a wide range of purposes and prices, the following list of gear can truly make a difference during an emergency at sea.

  • - (EPIRB): It sends a satellite signal with your position to the Coast Guard during an emergency. Remember to properly register your EPIRB to ensure a swift .
  • : The best is the one you wear. There are many different styles to choose from, including inflatable life jackets, which are more comfortable and less bulky.
  • VHF Radio: The Coast Guard continuously monitors 16. It is important to understand that cell phones don’t always work offshore, and can’t be depended on to call for help during an at-sea crisis.
  • Sound Devices: Whistles or air horns are extremely affordable, and can come in quite handy during low-visibility situations.
  • Signaling Devices: Help responders find you quickly. Flares, signalling mirrors and other devices can make a huge difference, especially at night.

EPIRBs send a satellite signal to the Coast Guard, helping to take the search out of .

On Wednesday, the Coast Guard responded to a disabled 65-foot fishing vessel’s EPIRB signal near the Bahamas by launching a helicopter crew. The helicopter crew hoisted all seven people aboard and transported them to safety.

Having an EPIRB onboard your vessel can increase survival chances during boating emergencies. Having a variety of safety devices, however, can exponentially increase survival chances.

On Nov. 19, the Coast Guard received both an EPIRB signal and a mayday call over VHF Channel 16. A fishing vessel was taking on water near the Florida Keys, but the crew was prepared and able to effectively call for help. A helicopter crew and a cutter crew were launched to search, and when the cutter crew witnessed a flare, they knew they had found the distressed boaters. At this point, the fishing vessel had sunk and the boaters were recovered with no medical concerns. Due to the boaters having a properly registered EPIRB, a working VHF radio, and flares onboard their vessel, they were quickly rescued and lived to tell the tale.


Saving Lives and Guarding the Coast Since 1790.
The United States Coast Guard — Proud History. Powerful Future.

5th District Public Affairs
U.S. Coast Guard
Feature Story
Date: October 19, 2011

Contact: 5th District Public Affairs

(757) 398-6272

By Charles Rowe, Coast Guard Sector New York

NEW YORK, NY — Few events are as frightening and as demanding as an emergency afloat.

One of an owner/operator’s most immediate priorities is to broadcast a call seeking Coast Guard assistance. Under the stress of the moment, a voice call can be garbled, incomplete or wrong. When minutes count and lives are in danger, lack of information or poor data can delay the Coast Guard’s ability to rapidly reach a mariner in .

Fortunately, there is a tool available that can instantly broadcast the right information. This tool is Digital Selective Calling (), similar to an electronic maritime pager, which is triggered by a simple button on accepted since June 1999. When the button is depressed for 3 seconds, and if the system has been properly programmed, an alert is automatically broadcast. But, just like any tool, has to be used and cared for properly to be effective.

A recent incident here in New York illustrates what can go wrong:

*At 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 4, 2011, the Coast Guard Sector New York Command Center received a DSC alert via a communications tower at a remote location. A DSC alert is transmitted as a digital data stream.

*The only information contained in the alert was that which comprises a Identity (). Maritime Mobile Service Identities are nine-digit numbers that specifically identify vessels. (If a GPS is hooked into the DSC-equipped radio, precise will also be transmitted.)

*The command center developed a search area based on a probable location and in order to launch aviation units. Within the search area, a search pattern was also established for the Coast Guard helicopter that would be used in an initial search. Simultaneously, the command center researched the MMSI data to identify the registered owner, who was contacted. A short time later, the search was stood down.

Why? What did the Coast Guard learn that caused it to cease efforts before ever launching a search and helicopter?

When the registered owner was contacted, he stated that he had sold the boat 4 years prior. After further research, the Coast Guard was able to contact the second owner. He had sold the boat a week before. Finally, the current owner was found. When questioned, the current owner admitted that in the course of changing the battery, cleaning and checking equipment, he had inadvertently triggered the DSC distress alert. He also admitted that he had little idea of what DSC was or how it worked.

The potential harm is fairly obvious.

When search and rescue aircraft are launched, it costs several thousand dollars per hour to operate these craft. On a bogus search, that is taxpayer money burned up for no good reason.

When Coast Guard aircraft and boats are fruitlessly engaged in a search triggered by a false alarm, they are not immediately available for a real emergency. People in of death or injury and needing assistance right away may have to wait longer than they would if an unnecessary search was not underway.

An owner/operator who triggers an unnecessary search, even by accident, is liable to civil and criminal penalties that may include jail time, civil and criminal fines that can total thousands of dollars, and reimbursement of search costs, more thousands of dollars. A recent search in the Sandy Hook area cost the Coast Guard nearly $90,000.

However, the Coast Guard’s preference is not to punish but to educate.

Responsible owner need to know what to do and how to do it.

Step one comes when you purchase a boat. Buy a marine radio, equipped with DSC. Then you need to register your MMSI data. The web links below will guide you through that process. It doesn’t take long and it could be the difference between being found right away in case of an emergency at sea and not being found until it is too late:

BoatUS: http://www.boatus.com/mmsi/instruct.htm

Seatow: http://seatow.com/boating_safety/mmsi.asp

U.S. Power Squadrons: www.usps4mmsi.com

FCC Online Licensing System: https://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsEntry/licManager/login.jsp

Remember, the last owner’s MMIS data leads to him, not to you, in case of emergency.

The second step is to understand DSC, your equipment and how to use it.

A Boater’s Guide to VHF and GMDSS: http://goo.gl/oencz

Yachting and Boat World DSC – Digital Selective Calling: http://goo.gl/rXmxN

GMDSS for Recreational Vessels Using : http://goo.gl/q4mwv

To remind yourself, post these instructions near your radio:

*When testing on the exclusive DSC distress and safety calling frequency 2 187.5 kHz should be avoided as far as possible by using other methods.

*Test transmissions on VHF DSC calling channel 70 should be made to another VHF DSC radio by using a routine individual call to their Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI).

*For VHF DSC radios equipped with the Test Call feature, test transmissions should be made to the US Coast Guard MMSI 003669999 to receive an automated VHF DSC test response. Individual calls to this address will not receive an automated response. For older radios not having a test call capability, testing can only be performed by using a routine individual call to their Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI).

*Under no circumstances shall a DSC distress alert be sent to test your radio. It is a violation of the rules and can result in heavy fines.

*You will need to consult your owner’s manual for the proper operation of your radio.

If you do accidentally trigger a distress alert with DSC, take the following steps:

(1) Reset the equipment immediately,

(2) Tune for radiotelephony on the associated distress and safety frequency in each band in which a false distress alert was transmitted, and

(3) Transmit a broadcast message on Channel 16 to “All Stations” giving the ship’s name, call sign, time the alert was transmitted and MMSI, and cancel the false alert on the distress and safety frequency in each band in which the false distress alert was transmitted.

One of the Coast Guard’s oldest and most honored missions is rescue of those in peril on the sea and from the sea. Every rescue is a race against time, a contest not just with the hostile elements but with a clock that counts down tick by potentially deadly tick.

Don’t make that contest tougher than it has to be.

Do your part to save your own life.

Give the Coast Guard the information it needs to find you as quickly as possible.

Learn how to use your equipment.

And, most of all, don’t trigger a false alarm; someone’s life may depend upon it.


Saving Lives and Guarding the Coast Since 1790.
The — Proud History. Powerful Future.

th District Public Affairs
News Release
Date: Aug 7, 2011

Contact: Public Affairs Det. Baltimore
(757) 309-3828

BALTIMORE — The 25-year-old man who was reported missing in Piney Creek Cove, Md., returned safely, Sunday.

Sweitzer returned safely to a residence, which was confirmed by Maryland State Police at approximately 8:15 a.m.

Sweitzer was reported missing after he and friends went for a swim early Sunday morning in Piney Creek Cove.

A 25-foot – Small crew from Coast Guard Station Stillpond, Md., an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, N.J., along with Maryland State Police and responded. Coast Guard crews arrived on scene at approximately 5:40 a.m. and began searching for Sweitzer.

There are no reports of injuries.

All Coast Guard units have returned to base.

(All kayakers should remember to file a float plan before getting on the water. This includes a departure and return time. Having a way to communicate with the outside world is a good idea as well. A portable marine is your best bet to contact the Coast Guard in cae of an emergency.)

In this recent news release the reminded boaters:

VHF Channel 16 is the national hailing and frequency used to request assistance from the Coast Guard.

When using a cell phone to report an emergency [boaters] can call 911. Be immediately prepared to give in order:

1. Your location (GPS or geographical position)

2. How many people aboard your vessel

3. Nature of your distress

4. Description of your vessel

Having this information readily available will greatly assist the Coast Guard and other marine agencies in their response to cases.


Additionally, the Coast Guard will direct everyone on your vessel to PUT ON if you and your passengers have not already done so. They may ask if anyone is hurt or needs immediate medical attention.

Listen carefully to your marine and follow the instructions and answer the questions of the Coast Guard watchstander. The watchstander is an professional who understands that you are perhaps nervous or worried. By remaining calm and assured you calm your passengers and speed handling of the Coast Guard’s instructions. Speak steadily, distinctly, and avoid yelling into the . Keep your wits about you.

Panic is the enemy of rescue. The Coast Guard is your best friend in these moments and they will do everything they can to bring you to safety.

Know how to operate your VHF radio. The Coast Guard may ask you to change channels to a working channel where you and the watchstander can speak without interruption. Practice on your radio so you know how to do it in an emergency. Make sure the volume to your radio is UP and that you have not turned it down. You do not want to call for help and not hear the response.

It is possible that a is closer to you than the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard may coordinate a response by a nearby boater to your situation. Listen carefully and follow instructions.

Always be prepared. Plan ahead for these situations. Carry the appropriate safety gear, take a boating safety class, and explain to all of your passengers what to do in the event of an emergency.

The USCG Auxiliary Fifth District Southern Region asked every Auxiliary Flotilla to STRESS having and maintaining life-saving communication equipment using this article as the focus You have seen recent NSBW articles on EPIRBS, radio, our Tip of Day regarding the use of Marine VHF Channel 16 at the Drum Point Flotilla Auxiliary blog. Throughout this blog you will find a number of articles about Marine and how it can save your life e.g. recent rescues where having that radio made all the difference. The Drum Point Flotilla wants to again stress having a Marine aboard your vessel or . As the editor of this blog it is always on my mind and I know it’s in the minds of every Drum Point flotilla member. By the way, did you know that only 10 percent of recreational boaters have connected their marine vhf DSC equipped radio to their GPS. We encourage you to do so!

Please carry a on your vessel or paddle craft and know how to use it.


Ninth District External Affairs
News Release
Date: May 26, 2011

Contact: Ninth Coast Guard District Public Affairs Office
(216) 902-6020

CLEVELAND — Continuing our active outreach during , the Ninth Coast Guard District is reminding Great Lakes-area boaters of the importance of carrying life-saving communication and emergency distress equipment.

Click here to read a news release regarding a mariner who took all the right precautions and, as a result, was able to effectively communicate distress to the Coast Guard and other agencies.

While many boaters rely on cell phones for emergency communications on the water, VHF-FM radios are much more reliable in the marine environment and work in areas where cell phones sometimes don’t.  When a mayday is broadcast over channel FM Channel 16, the international hailing and distress frequency, multiple response agencies and other nearby boaters can hear the distress call and offer immediate assistance.

The Coast Guard also highly recommends all mariners equip their boats with Indicating Radio Beacons and/or their life jackets with Personal Locator Beacons.

“EPIRBs and PLBs are absolutely invaluable during emergencies because they instantly alert responders to your distress, provide a precise GPS location and give a description of your vessel when they’re properly registered,” said Lt. Cmdr. James Hedrick, chief of the Telecommunications Branch at the Ninth Coast Guard District. “If your boat capsizes or you fall overboard and can’t get to your radio, these small, relatively inexpensive pieces of equipment, along with your life jacket, really could be the difference between living and dying.”

EPIRBs and PLBs may be activated manually by the push of a button or automatically when they enter the water, depending on the model.

Additionally, in accordance with federal law, recreational boats 16 feet and longer are required to carry visual distress signals such as flares, smoke signals or non-pyrotechnic devices, and vessels 12 meters or longer are required to carry sound-producing devices such as whistles, bells and gongs. State and local laws may require further .

Federal requirements can be found in the brochure A Boater’s Guide to the Federal Requirements for Recreational Boats.

Editor’s Note: Coast Guard spokespersons are available throughout National Safe Boating Week to visit news studios or host media aboard Coast Guard units to discuss the importance of safe boating practices. Please see the media advisory for additional details.


Saving Lives and Guarding the Coast Since 1790.
The — Proud History. Powerful Future.

As part of , we asked our U.S. fans what item that helps them boat responsibly would they like to know more about. While there were votes for , marine , and , there was one item that stood out with the most votes…

Was an ! Read about the faithful at the Coast Guard Compass, the Official Blog of the U.S. Coast Guard:

via Coast Guard Compass.

FORT MACON, N.C. — Crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Elm rescued four boaters when their 27-foot pleasure craft capsized 20 miles east of Cape Hatteras, N.C. Sunday afternoon. Read the rest of this entry »
Unfortunately, the risk of a deadly accident is increased with cold weather. Extra caution and preparation should be taken before heading out on the water in winter. Read the rest of this entry »

Date: Oct 15, 2010

Contact: Public Affairs Det. Baltimore

(410) 576-2541

BALTIMORE – The  assisted four people from a vessel disabled and beset by weather in the  River near , Md., Friday.

Rescued was Pete Hoeltje, 38, from Manahawkin, N.J., Mike Carrey, 22, from Manahawkin, N.J., Mike Dunlap, 38, from Chestertown Md., and Paul Snieckus, 20, from Marlton, N.J.

Hoeltje contacted Coast Guard Sector Baltimore watchstanders via marine-band radio at 1:51 a.m., reporting that his 28-foot sailboat was disabled and beset by weather.

A 41-foot Utility from Coast Guard Station St. Inigoes, Md., arrived on scene at 2:31 a.m., and transferred the passengers onto their vessel, where they were then taken to Station St. Inigoes.

“We were operating on a at that point,” said Hoeltje. “We figured the only people that were going to hear us was the Coast Guard. It’s nice having the peace of mind to know that you guys are there in any given situation.”

The mariners were later transported to Annapolis, Md., by Coast Guard personnel.

“This is yet another great example of how a mariner properly used his to contact the Coast Guard,” said Chief Petty Officer Lawrence Beatty, a coordinator at Sector Baltimore. “We were able to utilize our 21 system to establish communications and locate the mariner quickly.”

As the air and in Maryland and Washington, D.C., begin to decrease, the risk mariners may face if they find themselves in an emergency situation while on the water significantly increases. The Coast Guard urges mariners to plan for what might go wrong and be equipped and prepared for .

There were no reports of injuries.


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  • A foggy day in Southern Maryland. Good morning shipmates.
  • Wear it!  News media ask the boaters you photograph why they don't. Start the discussion and save a life.
  • Our cold-water survival training was ultimately made possible by the Guardians of  U S Coast Guard Station Annapolis.  Two Guardians hauled each of us onto the deck of a fast boat.  During the training they made sure we were safe.  I am so proud to serve with these men and women. Each one is an outstanding professional.  Thank you Station Annapolis.
  • Once a crew is in the water survival and staying together is key. Chaining together as they do here the crew shares warmth and prolongs life.
  • A face that could be your next door neighbor. Coast Guard Auxiliary members from three Maryland flotillas took their annual cold-water training at Coast Guard Station Annapolis. Bill Smith from the Drum Point Flotilla reflects the serious of his training in his expression. Bill is not new to cold water.
  • To. feller and Bill Smith, Coast Guard Auxiliary, arrive at Coast Guard Station Annapolis for cold-water training.
  • A two-minute lesson that covered finger dexterity after cold water immersion. We placed a hand in cold water while the instructor spoke for two minutes. One we removed our hands we had to pick up the coin on the table. Not as easy as if looks. Try this only with an expert present.
  • Shawn Moore, Auxiliarist was our cold-water instructor.
  • Ray Feller, Auxiliarist  dons his dry suit. The suit provides significant protection in cold water. Having the suit alone is not enough. Knowing how the human body reacts to sudden immersion was the classroom session of our training today.
  • These volunteers attending cold-water survival training today could be your neighbors. Flotillas from Solomons Island to Annapolis were represented today.  Guardians made sure our training was safe. Another reason why I love to say Guardians rock!
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Rear Admiral William "Dean" Lee

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Rear Admiral Dean Lee, 5th District commander, United States Coast Guard

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