Marine radio contact and monitoring

Maintaining contact with marine radio

Commercial vessels with a certificate of survey must make contact with a coast station using the vessel's radio equipment:

  • as soon as practicable after leaving port on a voyage
  • as soon as practicable on entering port at the conclusion of a voyage
  • at least once during each day that the vessel is at sea.

While contacts on departing and returning to port may be undertaken on VHF, depending upon the area a vessel is operating in, it may also require the use of HF while at sea.

When planning to operate in an area reliant on HF for communications, it is recommended to make an initial test call on leaving port to ensure the radio is working satisfactorily. The high frequency coast safety network can accept these calls.

These practices are recommended for recreational vessels, although they are not subject to the same obligations.

Trip notification and position reports

Vessel operators planning coastal passages or offshore trips should arrange for monitoring of their trip details and position reports with local limited coast stations.

The high frequency coast safety network will accept and record offered position reports, but will not provide any form of follow-up or trip notification services. This information can only be released by relevant authorities in the event of a search.

Before you leave, notify someone ashore of the details of your trip and arrange for them to notify relevant authorities should you not reach your destination as planned.

Monitoring marine radio

Commercial vessels with a certificate of survey must monitor marine radio at all times while the vessel is at sea.

The best frequency to use for the current coast station arrangements is likely to be:

  • 8291 kHz (day)
  • 4125 kHz (night).

It's recommended that vessels monitor these frequencies while at sea.

Ship reporting system

The Modernised Australian Ship Tracking and Reporting System (MASTREP) provides positional data on vessels transiting Australia's region which ensures only the closest vessels are requested to assist in a search and rescue incident.

MASTREP is mandatory for certain ships, but most other commercial ships participate voluntarily.

The system provides a quick and accurate picture of which vessels are in the vicinity of a maritime emergency and ensures the safety of participating vessels, as scheduled checks are part of the system.

For more information on services available from Australian Maritime Safety Authority:

Volunteer Marine Rescue network

The primary function of the Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) Coastal Radio Network (1.4 MB PDF) is to log vessel movement, provide weather and safety message reports, and receive distress and emergency transmissions.

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Page last updated 18 August 2020

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