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Mariners still seeking help via old frequency

Nov 1, 2017

The U.S. Coast Guard is urging mariners to make sure they understand — and can operate — communications equipment on their vessels, particularly during emergencies.

The Coast Guard issued a safety alert in August after learning some single sideband radio users are still trying to contact the Coast Guard over an incorrect frequency. The Coast Guard said it stopped monitoring the former international radiotelephone distress frequency 2182 kHz more than four years ago.

“Nevertheless,” the Coast Guard said in the alert, “many mariners continue to attempt to contact the Coast Guard using this frequency. Also, many mariners attempt to contact the Coast Guard using their EPIRBs, cellphones, satphones and even NOAA weather electronics.

“Each of these communications devices has its own limitations and specific functional capabilities,” the safety alert continued.

The Coast Guard considers single sideband radio, particularly models equipped with digital selective calling, “an especially reliable” way of contacting the Coast Guard during distress. Triggering the emergency button on SSB radios sends an alert to Coast Guard Communications Command.

In place of the former distress frequency 2182 kHz, the Coast Guard monitors the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System SSB-HF frequencies 4125, 6215, 8291 and 12290 kHz.

For more information on Coast Guard emergency procedures, visit www.navcen.uscg.gov.

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