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Old 01-31-2019, 04:19 AM
USCG Safe Boating D8
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: New Orleans
Posts: 478

Originally Posted by Offshoreaddicted View Post
I have a question that has been hashed out on here already but would like your opinion. Heading out the inlet a quick call on 16 to Coast Guard station getting a radio check. I have done it for years and the Coast Guard has always been more than willing to accommodate even with them wishing good luck or happy holidays whatever applies.
Channel 16 is designated as hailing and distress only. I have read on this forum that some Coast Guard units are granting them. They probably shouldn't. Let me explain why.

When I was a SAR controller at Sector New Orleans, The radio room was a glass room connected to the primary command center floor. I would pop into the radio room from time to time to chat with the radio watch stander. I hope I am recalling my numbers correctly here. If it's not exact it's close, and it makes the point if if I am off by a little. There are 32 VHF speakers in that radio room covering pretty much the entire Louisiana Coast. A mariner calling for a radio check, even if he is waiting until there is silence on his radio, may step on critical SAR traffic that is coming in on one of the other speakers.

You'd think the likelihood of that is very low, but you'd be surprised how often it happens that pieces of a critical radio transmissions are broken by other radio traffic. Most of the time that other traffic is legitimate, but sometimes it's boats making passing arrangements, sometimes it's people talking fishing, and it has been radio checks in the past.

To summarize, radio checks are not in keeping with the designated use of channel 16 and those radio check may interfere with critical communications.

There's likely a good way to get a radio check wherever you are. Everywhere I have lived or operated has had a VHF frequency that was fairly active with local mariners where I could almost always conduct a quick check. Sea Tow has radio check services on certain frequencies in certain areas. Failing that, if you have the phone number to your local Coast Guard unit and they are willing, you can always call them and ask for a check on the channel of their choice. When I worked at Coast Guard stations, I did that on occasion.
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