VHF Marine Radio Channels

  • 6 Intership Safety
  • 7, 8 Commercial
  • 9  Boater Calling. Commercial and Non-Commercial.
  • 10 Commercial
  • 11 Pilot Boats
  • 12 Port Operations
  • 13 Intership Navigation Safety (Bridge-to-bridge). Ships >20m length maintain a listening watch on this channel in US waters.
  • 14 Port Operations
  • 15 Environmental (Receive only) Used by class C EPIRBs.
  • 16 International Distress, Safety and Calling. Ships required to carry radio, USCG, and most coast stations maintain a listening watch on this channel.
  • 17 State & local government maritime control
  • 18, 19 Commercial
  • 21 U.S. Coast Guard only
  • 22 CG Liason and Maritime Safety Information Broadcasts. Broadcasts announced on channel 16.
  • 23 U.S. Coast Guard only
  • 24-28 Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)
  • 65, 66 Port Operations
  • 68,69,71 Non-Commercial
  • 72 Non-Commercial, Intership only.
  • 73, 74, 77 Port Operations
  • 78 Non-Commercial
  • 81 U.S. Government only - Environmental protection operations.
  • 82 U.S. Government only
  • 83 U.S. Coast Guard only
  • 84, 85, 86, 87 Public Correspondence (Marine Operator).
  • 88 Commercial, Intership only.

Procedure for VHF Channel 16 MAYDAY

Source: U.S. Coast Guard

If you have a VHF marine radio, tune it to channel 16. Unless you know you are outside VHF range of shore and ships, call on channel 16 first.

  1. Distress signal "MAYDAY", spoken three times.
  2. The words "THIS IS", spoken once.
  3. Name of vessel in distress (spoken three times) and call sign or boat registration number, spoken once.
  4. Repeat "MAYDAY" and name of vessel, spoken once.
  5. Give position of vessel by latitude or longitude or by bearing (true or magnetic, state which) and distance to a well-known landmark such as a navigational aid or small island, or in any terms which will assist a responding station in locating the vessel in distress. Include any information on vessel movement such as course, speed and destination.
  6. Nature of distress (sinking, fire etc.).
  7. Kind of assistance desired.
  8. Number of persons onboard.
  9. Any other information which might facilitate rescue, such as length or tonnage of vessel, number of persons needing medical attention, color hull, cabin, masks, etc.
  10. The word "OVER".

Stay by the radio if possible. Even after the message has been received, the Coast Guard can find you more quickly if you can transmit a signal on which a rescue boat or aircraft can home.

VHF Marine Radio