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UK Coastguard MSI Broadcasts


Distress Comms on Marine VHF

Check These Frequencies

Marine VHF radio is the primary method of distress communication, making it possible to broadcast and receive a distress call from vessels at sea and coast stations in the local area. When a vessel transmits a distress call it is heard by other vessels in the area who can proceed to the casualty to assist in the subsequent rescue. It is also heard by coast stations (Coastguard and/or National Coast Watch institution volunteers (England & Wales). The coastguard can then commence a rescue operation by asking lifeboats to launch, local coast guard teams to deploy and alerting other assets as required, for example, coastguard rescue helicopter, ambulance etc.

By just using a mobile phone the casualty’s only contact in a distress situation is the Coastguard via the emergency number. Unlike a distress call on marine VHF, no other nearby vessels will hear that call until it is relayed by the coast guard on marine VHF resulting in the loss of valuable rescue time that may also involve ultimate loss of life. There may also be problems using a mobile phone at sea either due to no or poor signal coverage or low battery power of the mobile phone.

In addition to distress communications, a marine VHF radio also enables those at sea to receive up-to-date marine safety information, especially weather information for example gale or small craft warnings; something that you cannot get on your mobile phone without checking your mobile internet. Current information regarding UK Coastguard MSI Broadcasts (stations, times and channels used) is available by downloading their (2018) leaflet at

Below is a list of Irish Coast Guard channels. MSI transmissions are at 0103, 0403, 0703, 1003, 1303, 1606, 1903, and 2203 local time. A prior announcement of MSI broadcasts is made on Marine VHF Radio Ch16 (156.800 MHz). Gale warnings are transmitted by UK and Irish coast guards on receipt, again after a prior announcement on CH16.



Carlingford Coast Guard Radio                  04,16, 67, DSC70

Dublin Coast Guard Radio                          03,16, 67, DSC70

Wicklow Head Coast Guard Radio             02,16, 67, DSC70

Rosslare Coast Guard Radio                       05,16, 67, DSC70

Mine Head Coast Guard Radio                  03,16, 67, DSC70



Malin Head Coast Guard Radio                   05,16, 67, DSC70

Malin Head Lough Swilly & Lough Foyle  01,16

Glen Head Coast Guard Radio                    03,16, 67, DSC70

Donegal Bay Coast Guard Radio                02,16, 67, DSC70

Belmullet Coast Guard Radio                     16, 63, 67, DSC70

Clew Bay Coast Guard Radio                      05,16, 67, DSC70

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Clifden Coast Guard Radio                          03,16, 67, DSC70

Lough Ree Coast Guard Radio                   16, 62

Lough Derg Coast Guard Radio                   16, 61


VALENTIA MRSC              

Galway Coast Guard Radio                         04,16, 67, DSC70

Shannon Coast Guard Radio                      16, 64, 67, DSC 70

Valentia Coast Guard Radio                        16, 62, 67, DSC70

Bantry Coast Guard Radio                           05,16, 67, DSC70

Mizen Head Coast Guard Radio                 04,16, 67, DSC70

Galley Head Coast Guard Radio                 16

Cork Coast Guard Radio                              02,16, 67, DSC70


Keep up to date with the latest news and developments in maritime communications in our monthly “Maritime Matters” column in Radio User magazine.

UK Coastguard:

Irish Coast Guard (Garda Cósta na hÉireann)

(Source: Robert Connolly)