Group: Forum Members
Here is another DSC radio idea that follows on from my recent OCC forum topic of DSC Group and Individual Calling, and the experience of the WCC/ARC rally group getting their DSC HF/SSB radios working and using their assigned DSC Group Call ID to create a mutual support network.
I subsequently considered how to create a similar DSC Group Call system to provide a mutual support network for yachts travelling independently, and to give them access to local information from local boat crews when they get to destinations or as they explore coastal or island regions.
The result is a Group Call ID based on the NAVAREA where the vessel is located.
To make the system work it just needs recreational and marine tourism vessels in that region to enter the Group Call ID in their DSC capable radios, and maintain their radios in a 24/7 DSC watch, so any other private yachts or marine tourism related vessels (live aboard dive, surf, charter and sports fishing boats etc) can conveniently contact each other using the General Receiver in a DSC capable HF/SSB or VHF radio. (This assumes the General Receiver frequency/scan setup in HF/SSB radios has been amended as per the attached documents.)
I have attached a document with more information on what has been named this Worldwide Group Call Network. The document includes the DSC Group Call IDs for 20 of the world 's 21 NAVAREAS.
Setting up to join/create/use this network takes about 20 minutes for an ICOM M802 or M801 radio, and about ten minutes for a VHF radio. And costs nothing. Keeping radios in a 24/7 DSC watch is a quiet experience, because the radio speaker is muted while the radio does the work of listening for DSC calls.
Entering the NAVAREA Group Call ID in the DSC capable radio and keeping the radio switched on 24/7 immediately creates a mutual support network of similarly equipped nearby yachts - known and unknown - which can contact each other for advice, a part, fuel, water, a tow or other assistance.
The more recreational vessels doing this, the more dense the network of nearby small-craft to assist each other. By keeping radios on 24/7 to help each other with information, advice or assistance with minor problems, the radios are also on 24/7 to provide a prompt and nearby response in the unlikely event of a major problem; by contacting each other with a DSC Distress call.
If yachts and other recreation and marine tourism vessels maintain a 24/7 DSC watch for mutual support and advice, they also become accessible to MRCCs or regional S&R centres looking for a nearby vessel to go to the location of an activated EPIRB or PLB. The MRCC or regional S&R centre simply needs to send a DSC Distress Call to make contact.
This Worldwide Group Call Network facilitates what MRCC Australia highlights as the importance of nearby assistance from other vessels when away from the excellent shore based S&R support that is available only around the coasts of UK, Europe and North America and a few limited areas in the rest of the world. Such quick response and 24/7 S&R support simply does not exist in most of the world, including the Atlantic (as demonstrated by Chiki Rafiki), nor in the Pacific or Indian Oceans, nor around most of Australia 's coast or most of SE Asia. (Which is why RHKYC requires DSC HF/SSB radios in all yachts to maintain a 24/7 DSC watch and uses DSC Group Calling for their long distance events.)
MRCC Australia, with responsibility for and experience managing S&R in one of the largest, least populated and low resourced coastal and ocean regions in the world, with low commercial shipping densities, says:
"In the event of an emergency, communication should first be attempted with others close by using radios"
And, "While satellites and satellite-compatible distress beacons have significantly improved the effectiveness of SAR operations, the system is NOT a substitute for carrying appropriate marine or aviation radio."
Because "Even once a (EPIRB) position is obtained, response times then depend on the time for a search and rescue (SAR) unit, such as a helicopter, aircraft or ground party to be readied and transit to the search area. The more remote the location of the distress incident, the longer the response time. In all instances, be prepared to survive."
Therefore, "Depending on the circumstances, your initial distress alert should still be made by radio if possible. You should activate your distress beacon only if contact cannot be made by any other means or when told to do so by a rescue authority." Because the distances are great and the EPIRB battery could expire before an official S&R response can reach the location.
See more details on the Worlwide Group Call Network at this webpage: www.bruneibay.net/bbradio/bbrNAVAREAgroupIDs.htm .
The development of this concept ultimately become a combined Brunei/Australia, USA and UK project and therefore integrates ideas from all three sources.
I hope this is also useful for OCC members planning to cross more oceans and explore distant shores.
Comments, questions and sea trials please.