Change in the air for distress calls


For offshore sailors who didn’t get the memo, the U.S. Coast Guard is no longer monitoring voice frequency 2182 kHz for international distress and safety, the website Latitude 38 reported this week. The Coast Guard also dropped 2670 kHz for general marine and weather broadcasts, and it discontinued monitoring 2187.5 kHz, the international digital selective calling (DSC) frequency.

But no worries, mate. The decision — made after the Coast Guard found “significant” antenna and infrastructure degradation that jeopardized the handling of calls on the 2 MHz distress frequencies — is actually a good one, marine radio expert Gordon West told Latitude 38.

“Atmospheric noise on 2 MHz causes even the best of radio systems to not hear much beyond 30 miles ground wave, and 30 miles to shore is the typical maximum range of the Coast Guard’s excellent Rescue 21 VHF channel 16 coverage,” West said.

Only medium frequency 2 MHz in the United States is being dropped by the Coast Guard for a continuous radio listening watch, he said. Internationally, 2182 kHz remains the distress and calling channel.

By Ocean Navigator