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.

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