How to use marine radio
Use of standard procedures avoids confusion and shortens transmitting time.
Unnecessary chatter can mask a weak call for help and one day that may be your call. Only the recommended phonetic alphabet should be used in bad conditions.
Radio operating procedure
Your two-way radio is your communication lifeline so it is important to remember that you:
- Do not transmit unnecessarily
- Listen before transmitting and avoid interfering with other stations
- Use one of the following calling distress channels:
- 27MHz channel 88
- VHF channel 16
- HF frequencies 4125, 6215 and 8291KHz
- Maintain best contact channel or frequency and be guided by the coast or limited coast station when sending distress messages
- Arrange to switch to a working channel once you have made contact with the person you called for non-distress messages
- Always use your call sign or the name of the vessel for identification – use of given names or surnames is not permitted
- Keep messages brief and clear
- Be familiar with the type and syntax of emergency, urgency and safety messages
- State your position, the nature of the distress, the time afloat, the type of vessel and the number of people involved if making a distress call
- Stop transmitting when requested to do so by a coast station.
Marine radio qualifications
The Australian Waters Qualification is the minimum mandatory qualification you must have to operate a VHF marine radio. Learn about the Australian Waters Qualification on the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) website.
Further study - VHF and MF/HF
The Office of Maritime Communications at the Australian Maritime College (AMC) is responsible for the management of Marine Radio Operators Certificates in Australia.