VHF Marine Radio

Marine radio operators must have an appropriate Certificate of Proficiency. This may be obtained through the Office of Marine Communications that is part of the Australian Maritime College in Launceston, Tasmania. There are training courses available in Victoria and it can also be done remotely. http://www.amc.edu.au/industry/omc

Following are just some of the topics covered in the VHF marine radio course.


How the VHF frequency works by relying on “line of sight” meaning that higher antennas result in increased ranges: –

  • Handhelds – 5 to 10nms.
  • Vessels are generally – 10nms.
  • Vessel and shore – 27nms.
  • Large vessel with Coast station – 60nms

Repeater stations may provide greater range.

Who is listening?

  • Marine Radio Victoria is 24/7 and covers Port Phillip, Westernport and the Victorian coastline, up to 20 nautical miles from the coast on the VHF emergency channels.
  • Limited Coast Stations made up of marine rescue units (Coast Guard), yacht clubs, fishing clubs & other volunteer organisations and their hours of operation vary.
  • Other vessels that monitor channel 16.

Why a VHF marine radio.

  • Inexpensive, best signal, least interference.
  • Suitable close to shore
  • DSC capability.

Procedures for using VHF marine radio.

  • Calling other vessels.
  • Which channels are allocated for specific stations.
  • Weather reports.



  1. Mayday (Distress) – vessel
  2. Pan Pan (Urgency) – person
  3. Securite (Safety) – navigation
  4. General or Routine – working

Remember, marine radio operators must have a Certificate of Proficiency to ensure that the service is used efficiently to ensure the distress frequencies are available when needed in an emergency. Without a VHF certificate of proficiency, a marine radio is still a very important part of your boats safety equipment. If you go boating more than 2 nautical miles from the coast, a VHF marine radio is required and the operator should be registered with an MMSI for the radio DSC feature and for the EPIRB.

Safe boating

John Sanders