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Changes to Marine VHF Radio Channel Usage in 2017

by Ian Lockyer, ICOM UK 1 Sep 2017 12:00 BST 1 September 2017
Changes to Marine VHF Radio Channel Usage in 2017 © Icom UK

If you are a boat owner, shipping company or anyone who puts out to sea you should be aware of the following changes to marine VHF radio channel usage this year:

Maritime and Coastguard Agency announces VHF Channel changes coming in September 2017

There are some changes in the VHF channel numbers if you want to contact the UK Coastguard from September.

As a result of changes to Appendix 18 (Marine VHF) of the Radio Regulations, VHF channels 23, 84 and 86 will no longer be used for either Maritime Safety Information (MSI) or Radio Medical Advice. The channels to use from September 2017 will be VHF 62, 63 and 64. The use of VHF Channel 10 for MSI and pollution control (back up) is unchanged.

Mark Lawson from the Maritime & Coastguard Agency said: "Although the change is not happening until September, when it happens the changeover will be absolute and we want to make people aware of this changeover in good time given our commitment to deliver maritime safety and wider support to the maritime community. The exact date of change will be announced as soon as possible. In the meantime, we suggest anyone who uses any type of vessel makes a careful note of these replacement channels so they are ready when it does happen."

Changes to Channels 19, 20, 78, and 79 Marine VHF Usage

Due to the increased need for more marine VHF channels for commercial use, a recent ITU World Radio Conference authorised and developed a new channel plan for the following VHF marine radio frequencies.

Channels 19, 20, 78, and 79, which were duplex have been split them into 8 simplex channels numbered 1019, 2019, 1020, 2020, 1078, 2078, 1079, and 2079. This new channel plan took effect January 1, 2017.

It remains to be seen if member state governments will reassign any of these new channels for non-commercial usage.

Icom have been proactive in these changes and all future models will have the new commercial channel plan incorporated. For those customers requesting it, current radios will be able to be programmed, either by ourselves or an approved Icom Marine Service Dealer.