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GMDSS for Recreational Vessel


The GMDSS uses an advanced technology to issue time warnings to vessels at sea. It’s an internationally recognized system which is followed across the world. It was initiated by the international maritime organization. It has helped improve the ship to shore communication system. Compliance with the system is mandatory for larger and commercial vessels but it’s optional for recreational vessels as well.

However, despite the fact that’s it an optional choice for recreational boaters, the impact which it could have on the safety of its passengers often makes it a necessity.

What you should know about GMDSS for recreational vessels

The GMDSS has divided all the oceans into four zones represented from A1 to A4. While the bigger vessels navigate in area A3 and A4, recreational vessels navigate areas A1 and A2. All recreational vessels should be equipped with a digital calling service, a radio to receive signals and emergency position indicating radio beacon. However, a GPS would work just as well and could be used to receive all information sent through the GMDSS.

This becomes an essential safety measure for all recreational vessels and help keep people safe at sea by issuing timely warnings.

The digital selective calling radio

  • All digital selective calling radios have a distinguishing feature, a red distress button which sets them apart from all other kind of radio equipment.
  • The distress button comes with a protective covering so there is no chance of accidentally pressing the distress button thereby sending a false distress alarm
  • Voice communications for digital radios are carried out at regular frequencies
  • With a single press of the distress button the radio can send signals to surrounding areas, coasts and vessels thus coming in useful during time of emergency
  • In order t improve safety measures it is recommended that a GPS should be attached to the digital calling service radio. This would help identify the exact position of the recreational vessel, thus making it easier to send help during emergency.
  • Contact should be made on channel 16 and basters should ensure that the distress call is made to the coast stations.
  • All vessels which are equipped with the digital service calling are issued a maritime mobile service identity number. It compromises of nine digits.
  • The first three digits represent the country of origin of the vessel. This number should be fed into the ships radio. All boaters using recreational vessels are supposed to install this number into their radio before they actually start using it.
  • It also makes it easier to make routine contacts with other vessels because of the mobile identity number.

All in all the digital service calling radio helps make it easier to send out distress signals in record time. This is a matter of life and death and often a timely warning can help save lives. It is advisable for recreational boaters to get as much information regarding the GMDSS before they install the digital calling service radio in their vessels. The major concern is often with wrongly sent distress signals which cause unnecessary alarm. Make sure you know how to operate the equipment.