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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

Edit Module

Dec 19, 2017 03:53 pm
 Posted by  billlion

This article is not only wrong it is dangerous misinformation. 2182 remains the MF calling and distress frequency and 2187.5 the MF DSC distress frequency. All legal MF/HF radios worldwide monitor 2187.5 on their watchkeeping receiver and it remains the best hope of reaching a ship near enough to help but out of VHF range. In some areas such as the North Sea MRCCs only monitor 2187.5 MF DSC and no HF channels. The US Coastguard took the decision not to monitor MF, and presumably that is due to their very long coast line and the spacing of their stations, but mariners should consult ALRS or equivalent publications for the frequencies monitored by MRCCs around the world.

Perhaps if the US had a rigorous testing procedure for MF/HF marine radio operators, like most of the rest of the world, US SSB users would be better informed.

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