Maritime Radio

The first thing that I remember that got me interested in Radio was listening to a 33RPM Record (remember those?) of Tony Hancocks “The Radio Ham”. In the show we hear Tony talking to people around the world and making a total mess of receiving a Mayday call from a yachtsman who was sinking in some far off place. To this day I am always interested in what the weather might be like in Japan šŸ˜‰

Using a decent HF Ham Radio you can tune to just about any HF frequency and listen in, so there is more than just other Hams to hear. You are not permitted to transmit on the frequencies using an Amateur Radio transceiver and (in the UK at least) if you do have a suitable transceiver you must be licensed to use Maritime SSB.

The primary use for SSB radio at sea is for Safety and although satellite communications cover the whole world they are still quite expensive to use, SSB radio once installed is free to use and can be used for both voice and data communisations (yes you can even send and receive email with the right set up) If you have a receiver cable of tuning in to the Maritime Frequencies, you might hear ships on the Calling/Distress Frequencies. Note that ranges are approximate and are for guidance only, the actual milage will vary depending on conditions. If you do hear a mayday try not to screw up taking down the details šŸ™‚

Maritime Distress and Calling Frequencies

BandVoice Frequency (KHz)DSC Frequency (KHz)Daytime Range (NM)Nighttime Range (NM)
MF221822187.5200400
HF441254207.5400600
HF6621563126001200
HF882918414.58001600
HF12122901257712002400
HF161624016804.516003200
HF22221592215022004000+
VHF156800 (Ch 16)156525 (Ch 70)3030

Weather – requires software to decode. Either on a PC or iPad/Android tablet.

ModeFrequency (kHz)Tune To (kHz)Notes
Weather Fax2618.52616.6
Weather Fax46104608.1
Weather Fax80408038.1
Weather Fax11086.511084.8
Weather Fax1826118259.1
Navtex490488.5
Navtex518516.5
Navtex4209.54208
RTTY45834581.5
RTTY76467644.5
RTTY10100.810099.3