Skysail Training


VHF Radio Procedures

For a card with all the VHF DSC knowledge you need click here:  Navigation and Seamanship Skills Charts

I can't do better than point you to the UK Divers site at

For Mayday and distress with DSC radios see  Mayday DSC

Coastguard MMSI numbers coastguard_mmsi - VHF courses in Merseyside areas by a Coastguard professional.

OfCom guidelines:

Channel 16 - Non GMDSS VHF Radio Telephone Guidelines For Use

Purpose of this leaflet

This leaflet is designed to reinforce what you have learned about the correct use of Channel 16 when taking your marine radio operator’s certificate.

What is Channel 16?

Channel 16 (156.800MHz) is the international Maritime Channel used for distress and safety working and voice calling. For non Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) equipped vessels you are required to maintain a listening watch on Channel 16 and may use it to establish initial contact with another vessel or a coast station and you should move to a working channel as soon as possible. However, you can use a different working channel to by-pass Channel 16 where you have made a prior arrangement or intend to communicate with a port operations service.

If you are in a distress situation and do not carry Digital selective Calling (DSC) radio, you should make your initial Distress call on Channel 16. If no response is received use the primary intership channels, these are likely to be the next most used channels and someone should acknowledge your call.

At present, the UK Coastguard and all sea-going vessels maintain a listening watch on Channel 16. 

Why is it important to follow the rules?

The rules for the use of Channel 16 are agreed internationally and MUST be followed as the lives of your fellow boat users may depend upon being heard on this channel. The rules are designed to provide order and discipline of use on this, the most important Marine frequency.

The following is a summary of the rules. You, and anyone likely to use your radio must be familiar with them.

General calls

Emergency calls

General rules – DO NOT

The Radiocommunications Agency

The Radiocommunications Agency (RA) is responsible for the planning and management of the radio spectrum within the UK. It authorises the use of radio and enforces the legislation affecting it.

For further details of marine radio use contact:

Aeronautical and Maritime Services
Radiocommunications Agency

Wyndham House
189 Marsh Wall
London E14 9SX

Tel: 020 7211 0215/0217
Fax: 020 7211 0228

For further information on other radio matters contact the Agency's 24 hr Enquiry Point on 020 7211 0211

posted 2nd December 2009