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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

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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.

Aug 19, 2018 05:29 pm
 Posted by  John Gooch

Hello marine radio users.
In 1979, I used to test and repair 2182 khz watch receivers, off of a production line.
Indeed when vhf cant work medium wave is a logical choice.
But most systems of marine craft are ready to work with satellites, using vhf, uhf and micro wave.
Trouble is that these systems need experts to set up.
Whilest the medium wave radio is relatively easier to get going like cb radio is.
Many people in non english speaking areas, who are not wealthy or educated carry on using medium wave.
It will continue until the cheap satellites fill the skys and the systems work like fm car radios.
But until then medium wave and short wave are a reasonable tool box option.
No fees and no fuss.

Aug 19, 2018 06:18 pm
 Posted by  John Gooch

Also the longer wave length bands are for the coast guard the more costly to maintain as the antennas are larger as well.
Making old equipment not guaranteed to be able to transfer power for transmit, due to rust and concrete failure.
I dare say some amateur radio types may still monitor 2182 khz, as it is only 182 khz above Top Band, also called the Gentleman's Band 1800 to 2000 khz.
A phone channel uses about 3 khz, so that about 90 channels max above 2000 khz.
But officially the coast guard have said that they don't monitor it any more.
But don't feel that they would not try to help.
These guys know the danger more than anyone.
KJV God's blessings, preparation is valuable.

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