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VHF Marine Radio Protocols
Nothing Comes Close to a Cobra
Emergency Messages
and Distress Procedure
Marine Distress Procedure
Speak slowly — clearly — calmly.
1. Make sure your radio is On.
2. Select Channel 16.
3. Press Talk button and say:
(Or “PAN — PAN — PAN,”
4. Say:
“THIS IS [your vessel name or call sign],” repeated three (3) times.
5. Say:
[your vessel name or call sign].
6. Tell where you are:
(what navigational aids or landmarks are nearby).
7. State the nature of your distress.
8. State the kind of assistance needed.
9. Give number of persons aboard and conditions of any injured.
10. Estimate present seaworthiness of your vessel.
11. Briefly describe your vessel (length, type, color, hull).
12. Say:
13. End message by saying:
“THIS IS [your vessel name or call sign]. OVER.”
14. Release Talk button and listen. Someone should answer.
If not, repeat the call, beginning at step 3 above.
Keep the radio nearby. Even after your message has been received, the Coast Guard
can find you more quickly if you can transmit a signal for a rescue boat to hone in on.
VHF Marine Radio Protocols
Emergency Messages
and Distress Procedure
Marine Emergency Signals
The three (3) spoken international emergency signals are:
The distress signal MAYDAY is used to indicate that a station is threatened by grave
and imminent danger and requests immediate assistance.
The urgency signal PAN is used when the safety of the vessel or person is in
jeopardy. (This signal is properly pronounced pahn.)
The safety signal SECURITE is used for messages about the safety of navigation or
important weather warnings. (This signal is properly pronounced see-cure-ee-tay.)
When using an international emergency signal, the appropriate signal is to be spoken
three (3) times prior to the message.
If You Hear a Distress Call
You must give any message beginning with one (1) of these signals priority over any
other messages. ALL stations MUST remain silent on Channel 16 for the duration of
the emergency unless the message relates directly to the emergency.
If you hear a distress message from a vessel, stand by your radio. If it is not answered,
YOU should answer. If the distressed vessel is not nearby, wait a short time for
who may be closer to acknowledge. Even if you cannot render direct assistance
, you may
be in a position to relay the message.
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