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Always listen in to Channel 16, the emergency channel

Marine Radio

A marine radio is one of the most important safety items to have on board your vessel. With a marine VHF radio you can send a signal distress signal, request assistance, communicate with rescue groups, receive weather information, navigation warnings or local condition updates from port and maritime authorities. A cell phone is no substitute for marine radio as it is the best way of sending a distress signal because it alerts other vessel's of the emergency at the same time and if nearby they maybe able to come to your assistance immediately.

CommunicationsIcon  VHF channels and their use


Channel 16 - for distress and calling. Always change to another channel after calling.
Channel 12/13 - VTS (Vessel Traffic Services) for calling ports authorities and commercial vessels.
Channel 67 - supplementary distress and calling channel. Also used for safety broadcasts.
Channel 73 - mostly used for vessels talking to a Marine Rescue NSW shore station.
Channel 72 and 77 - for ship-to-ship working. Use this to pass messages between vessels.
Channel 21, 22, 80, 81 and 82 - repeaters. Used for passing information about vessel movements and the safety of vessels and persons.

Keep messages as brief as possible (no more than one minute in total) DO NOT use these channels for chatter. Not all channels are available in a given area. Ask your local Marine Rescue or Coastguard Unit for more information.

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Procedure words

The key to using your marine radio efficiently is to know the correct radio language. These words, combined with the phonetic alphabet are a form of shorthand designed to clarify messaging, prevent misunderstandings and help to reduce transmission time.

The safety signal SECURITE - SECURITE - SECURITE


Pronounced SAY-CURE-E -TAY, this signal indicates that the station using it is about to transmit a message concerning an important navigational or weather warning. A safety call can also be made from a vessel for messages such as a warning of a partly submerged object or other navigational hazard.

Securite call procedure

Saycure-e-tay, Saycure-e-tay, Saycure-e-tay
Hello all stations, Hello all stations, Hello all stations.
This is ... [vessel name and/or call sign if you have one] (spoken three times).
A hazard exists ... [Details of the warning or announcement].

Safety calls can be transmitted on Channel 16 or an appropriate working channel.

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The urgency signal - PAN - PAN - PAN


This distress signal indicates that the vessel has a very important message to transmit concerning the safety of the vessel or of a person. Non life-threatening situations such as vessel breakdown, steering loss or medical emergencies. This signal has priority over other communications except, the distress signal which has priority over all other transmissions.

PAN PAN call procedure

Pan Pan, Pan Pan, Pan Pan
Hello all stations, Hello all stations, Hello all stations
This is [vessel name and/or call sign if you have one]" (spoken three times)
"My position is ... [Details of the vessel's position]
I require... [Details of assistance required and other information]

Urgency calls can be made on a distress frequency or any other frequency which may attract attention.

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The distress signal - MAYDAY -  MAYDAY -  MAYDAY 


A distress call should only be used if the vessel and passengers aboard are threatened by grave and imminent danger such as persons in the water, sinking, on fire or, where life is threatened. It has priority over all other transmissions and may only be transmitted on the authority of the skipper or the person responsible for the safety of the vessel. Unauthorised use of vhf marine radios carries severe penalties.

MayDay call procedure

Mayday, Mayday, Mayday
This is [vessel name and/or call sign if you have one]" (spoken three times)
"Mayday [vessel name and/or call sign if you have one]
My position is ... [Details of the vessel's position]
My vessel is ... [Nature of distress and assistance required is identified]"
"I have ... [Other information -  number of persons on board]

Repeat the distress call as often as necessary until an answer is received. If no answer is received on the distress frequency, repeat the call on other frequencies.

Silent Periods
To increase the chances of a weak distress transmission being received,three minute periods of radio silence are observed on the hour and half hour on distress channels.With the exception of distress traffic, all other transmissions must cease during the silence periods

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Procedure
Word            
Meaning
Out This is the end of my transmission to you. no answer is required or expected.
Over This is the end of my transmission and a response is expected. Go ahead, transmit. (omit when not needed)
Romeo  Your last message has been received and understood and will be complied with.
This is
The transmission is from the station whose name and call sign follows immediately.
Speak slower
Your transmission is difficult to understand. Speak slower.
Say again
Requests the sender to repeat the last question.
Words twice
 It is difficult to understand you. Give each phrase twice.
I spell
I shall spell the next word phonetically. Used when a proper name is important in the message, for example - vessel name "Sea Dog" Sierra, Echo, Alpha, Delta, Oscar, Golf.
Silence (see-lonce)
Spoken by coast guard or emergency services three times to keep routine traffic off an emergency frequency during a MAY DAY situation, and maintained until lifted with " Silence Fini. (see-lonce fee-nee)
Standby
I must pause for a few seconds, I will call you back.
Affirmative
You are correct, or what you have transmitted is correct.
Negative
Indicates disagreement. Alternatively, say, No.
Wait
Indicates that you must pause, but want the other station to continue to listen, followed by "Wait Out" to resume.

Phonetic Alphabet

NOTE: Emphasis should be on the bold.

Letter

Phonetic Equivalent
 Pronunciation
A
 Alpha Al fah
B
Bravo
Brah voh
C
Charlie
Char lee
D
Delta
Dell tah
E
Echo
Eck oh
F
Foxtrot
Foks trot
H
Hotel
Ho tell
I
India
In dee ah
J
Juliet
Jew lee et
K
Kilo
Key loh
L
Lima
Lee mah
M
Mike
Mike
N
November
No vem ber
O
Oscar
Oss cah
P
Papa
Pah pah
Q
Quebec
Keh beck
R
Romeo
Row me oh
S
Sierra
See air rah
T
Tango
Tan go
U
Uniform
You nee form
V
Victor
Vik tah
W
Whiskey
Wiss key
X
X ray
Ecks ray
Y
Yankee
Yang key
Z
Zulu
Zoo loo

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