H.O.S.T.

 

 


Hawaii Ocean Safety Team

 

 

Safe Operating Practice 6-98

 

Hawaii Commercial VHF-FM Communications/Procedures

 

Revised November, 2005

 

 

Issues:

 

1.  Presently, there is a general misuse of VHF-FM marine band frequencies by vessel operators throughout the Hawaiian Islands .  This conflicts with the intended use of these frequencies as outlined in the United States Coast Pilot.  As examples, Channel 12, which is intended to be used specifically for port operations and control, is routinely utilized for routine transmissions between vessels.  Channel 13, which is designated specifically for bridge-to-bridge communications, is not being utilized as intended.  Additionally, failure to use working frequencies has created overloads on other frequencies, specifically VHF Channels 12 and 16.

 

2.  Presently, there is a growing problem with radio interference on VHF-FM communications in Honolulu Harbor .  This has created serious bleed-over of channels among other interference-related problems reported by operators.

 

Discussion. 

 

1.  Historically, Hawaii ’s commercial vessel traffic was light enough to allow the use of a single frequency for safe and effective communications.  With the current level of commercial traffic, especially traffic in Honolulu Harbor , overemphasis of one or two channels is not considered safe or effective.  To alleviate overuse of VHF-FM channels 12 and 16, vessel operators must rely more on Channel 13 for bridge-to-bridge communications and by increased use of working frequencies.

 

2.      The VHF-FM interference will continue to worsen as cellular and paging transmission increase.  This is a complex issue.  The interference is understood to be a result of “spurious harmonics” created primarily by the amplification of cellular phone and paging transmissions.  Several speakers have addressed HOST and have identified possible solutions including the upgrading of VHF radios currently in use,  or the use  of specialized antennas.

 

3.   In February, 1998 HOST issued Safe Operating Practice 6-98 which created a VHF-FM Frequency List used by all commercial operators. The original SOP format listed all frequencies by Operator and Island which was found to be confusing and very difficult to keep current.

 

 

Recommendations of HOST:

 

1.  Create a frequency plan that lists frequencies used by all commercial operators operating from Hawaii’s commercial ports. List the frequencies by “Function” and “Channel” rather than by “Operator.”

 

3.  Continue to investigate ways to reduce VHF-FM/microwave interference in Honolulu Harbor.

 

4.  Capture the frequency plan and any proven methods to alleviate VHF-FM/radio interference in the HOST Standard Operating Procedures Handbook.

 

Resolution.  Representatives from industry, vessel agents, Aloha Tower, USCG, Hawaii Pilots Association, Hawaii State Pilots, and State Harbor Masters have provided input for the frequency plan.  The following enclosed documents have been approved by HOST.

 

Enclosures:

1.   VHF Channel Guide – Sorted by Channel

2.   VHF Channel Guide – Sorted by Function

3.   Marine Radio Etiquette Guide

 

 

 

 

 

 


VHF Channel Guide – Sorted by Channel

 

Channel

Function

Description

WX1, WX2

NOAA Weather Channels

Provides voice broadcasts of local and coastal marine forecasts on a continuous cycle.

05A

Port Operations

Honolulu Harbor

Used in directing the movement of ships in or near Honolulu Harbor.  Message must be about the operational handling movements and safety of ships.

06

Intership Safety

This channel is to be used for ship-to-ship safety, search and rescue and ships and aircraft of the U.S. Coast Guard.

12

Port Operations

Aloha Tower and Neighbor Island ports

This channel is used in the directing of the movement of ships in or near Aloha Tower and all Neighbor Island ports.  Messages must be about the operational handling movement and safety of ships.

14

Port Operations

Pearl Harbor

This channel is used in directing the movement of ships in or near Pearl Harbor.  Messages must be about the operational handling movement and safety of ships.

7A – 08

Commercial

Restricted for communications between vessels and their assigned tugs.

9(fn6), 68, 69, 71, 72, 78

Non-Commercial

Working channel for voluntary boats.  Messages must be about the needs of the ship.  Typical uses include fishing reports, rendezvous, scheduling repairs and berthing information.

9 – 11, 18, 19, 67, 79, 80, 88(fn1)

Commercial

Working channels for commercial vessels only.  Messages must be about the needs of the vessel.

16

Distress Calling and Safety

Use this channel to get the attention of another station (calling) or in emergencies (distress and safety).

17

Maritime Control

This channel may be used to talk to ships and coast stations operated by state or local governments.  Messages must pertain to regulation and control, boating activities, or assistance to ships.

21A

SAR Working Channel

Use this channel to contact the Coast Guard in emergency situations only after making initial contact on channel 16.

22A

Maritime Safety Broadcast

Used by Coast Guard to broadcast marine and weather information.

23A

SAR Working Channel

Use this channel to contact the Coast Guard only after making initial contact on channel 16.

69

Port Operations

Pearl Harbor

This channel is used in directing the movement of ships in or near Pearl Harbor.  Messages must be about the operational handling movement and safety of ships.

70

Digital Selective Calling

Use this channel for distress and safety calling and for general purpose calling using only digital selective calling techniques.  When properly connected to a chartplotter, DSC transmissions are also able to transmit position to other DSC equipment vessels.

77

Port Operations

Used as the US Navy Supervisor of Salvage's (SUPSAL) primary frequency.

13, 67

Navigational

Also known as the bridge-to-bridge channel, this channel is available to all ships.  Messages must be about ship navigation, for example, passing or meeting other ships.  You must keep your messages short and your power output must not be more than one watt.

81A

Federal On-Scene Coordinator

Used by Federal on-scene coordinator for spill response.

68,71

Recreational

Used by local race committees as needed.


VHF Channel Guide – Sorted by Function

 

Function

Channel

Description

Commercial

9 – 11, 18, 19, 67, 79, 80, 88(fn1)

Working channels for commercial vessels only.  Messages must be about the needs of the vessel.

Commercial

7A – 08

Restricted for communications between vessels and their assigned tugs.

Digital Selective Calling

70

Use this channel for distress and safety calling and for general purpose calling using only digital selective calling techniques.  When properly connected to a chartplotter, DSC transmissions are also able to transmit position to other DSC equipment vessels.

Distress Calling and Safety

16

Use this channel to get the attention of another station (calling) or in emergencies (distress and safety).

Federal On-Scene Coordinator

81A

Used by Federal on-scene coordinator for spill response.

Intership Safety

06

This channel is to be used for ship-to-ship safety, search and rescue and ships and aircraft of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Maritime Control

17

This channel may be used to talk to ships and coast stations operated by state or local governments.  Messages must pertain to regulation and control, boating activities, or assistance to ships.

Maritime Safety Broadcast

22A

Used by Coast Guard to broadcast marine and weather information.

Navigational

13, 67

Also known as the bridge-to-bridge channel, this channel is available to all ships.  Messages must be about ship navigation, for example, passing or meeting other ships.  You must keep your messages short and your power output must not be more than one watt.

NOAA Weather Channels

WX1, WX2

Provides voice broadcasts of local and coastal marine forecasts on a continuous cycle.

Non-Commercial

9(fn6), 68, 69, 71, 72, 78

Working channel for voluntary boats.  Messages must be about the needs of the ship.  Typical uses include fishing reports, rendezvous, scheduling repairs and berthing information.

Port Operations

Honolulu Harbor

05A

Used in directing the movement of ships in or near Honolulu Harbor.  Message must be about the operational handling movements and safety of ships.

Port Operations

Aloha Tower and Neighbor Island ports

12

This channel is used in the directing of the movement of ships in or near Aloha Tower and all Neighbor Island ports.  Messages must be about the operational handling movement and safety of ships.

Port Operations

Pearl Harbor

14

This channel is used in directing the movement of ships in or near Pearl Harbor.  Messages must be about the operational handling movement and safety of ships.

Port Operations

Pearl Harbor

69

This channel is used in directing the movement of ships in or near Pearl Harbor.  Messages must be about the operational handling movement and safety of ships.

Port Operations

77

Used as the US Navy Supervisor of Salvage's (SUPSAL) primary frequency.

SAR Working Channel

21A

Use this channel to contact the Coast Guard in emergency situations only after making initial contact on channel 16.

SAR Working Channel

23A

Use this channel to contact the Coast Guard only after making initial contact on channel 16.

Recreational

68,71

Used by local race committees as needed.


 Marine Radio Etiquette

 

Maintain a watch while the radio is turned on, even though you are not communicating. Monitor the call and distress channel 16.

 

Choose the correct channel when communicating ship-to-ship or ship-to-shore. Channel 16 is a hailing and emergency channel only but it's the most abused channel. This channel is not for chatting or idle conversation. After contacting another station on channel 16, change immediately to a channel that is available for the type of message you want to send.

 

Limit the preliminary call to 30 seconds. If there is no answer, wait 2 minutes before repeating the call. If you don't get a reply after two attempts, try to establish communications later.

 

Limit ship-to-ship conversations to 3 minutes and the content to ship's business. Be considerate of others, they may want to use the line. Conversations should be brief and to the point.

 

Never use profane or obscene language or transmit fraudulent messages. Penalties include fines up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment.

 

The marine radio is not a citizens band (CB) so don't use phrases such as "That's a big 10-4", "come back." You are strongly encouraged to use "procedure" words. These shorten the length of the message and eliminate confusion. Remember to use "over" when you expect a reply. Use "out" when you are finished. Roger means, "yes I understand." Wilco means, "both Roger and I will do that or I will comply." Affirmative is "yes" and Negative is "no."

 

Listen before transmitting for about 30 seconds to determine if the channel is in use. Speak clearly in a normal tone of voice and hold the microphone about an inch from your mouth.

 

Use FCC call signals and/or your vessel's name at the beginning and end of all transmissions.

 

Use minimum radio power (one watt) when possible. This will reduce the distance the signal carries beyond your target.

 

Children should never be permitted to use the radio as a toy.

 

Need to send a distress call? You may only have a few seconds.

 

Here's the procedure to follow. Transmit in this order:

1.       Tune your VHF to channel 16.

2.       Repeat the word "MAYDAY," three times.

3.       Say "this is (name the boat)." Repeat the boat name three times.

4.       Give position by latitude and longitude or by bearing and distance to a well-known landmark or navigational aid, or in any terms that will assist a responding station in locating the vessel in distress. Include any pertinent information, such as vessel course, speed and destination.

5.       Indicate the nature of distress (sinking, fire, etc.).

6.       Indicate the kind of assistance desired.

7.       Describe your boat size, rig type, color and tell the number of persons aboard.

8.       End with "over."

 


VHF-FM RADIO COVERAGE OF THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS

 

The accompanying page to this article outlines VHF-FM radio network coverage emanating from the VHF-FM hi-sites located on the Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii.  As indicated on the diagram, the hi-site coverage areas overlap each other to provide overall excellent offshore coverage.  However, primarily due to VHF line of sight characteristics and geographic obstructions, there are certain areas where zero to marginal VHF communications can occur.  These areas, as noted by slash marks on the outline, usually extend from shoreline to approximately five nautical miles.