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 MRSC
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
Clifden Coast Guard Radio 03,16, 67, DSC70
Lough Ree Coast Guard Radio 16, 62
Lough Derg Coast Guard Radio 16, 61
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.
Irish Coast Guard (Garda Cósta na hÉireann)
(Source: Robert Connolly)