Marine communications and radio

Marine radio and digital coverage (Coast Radio Darwin)

There are two main marine safety communication systems operating in Australia. These are: 

  • Coast Radio Australia System (Coast Radio Darwin)
  • Safety Offshore System run by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

Coast Radio Australia and Coast Radio Darwin

This system consists of nine stations around Australia, with one radio in each state except Queensland and Western Australia which have two.

They are all monitored by local people who are able to communicate with local authorities and each other.

They monitor 2182, 4125, 6215 and 8291 kHz HF frequencies for distress, urgency and safety calls.

Coast Radio Darwin VKD 999 covers most of the Northern Territory.

Coast Radio Darwin monitors CH 16 VHF, 4125, 6215 and 8291 kHz HF frequencies for distress, urgency and safety calls.

Diagram of coast radio Darwin VKD 999

Safety Offshore System

This system is based on Global Maritime Distress and Safety System principles which are part of the Safety of Life at Sea convention which focuses on large vessels.

There are two equipment types used:

  • HFDSC - Digital Selective Calling
  • Sat-C satellite communications.

Recreational boats operating in remote areas or on extended voyages, such as cruising yachts, may use this equipment.

This system is managed and monitored at the Rescue Coordination Centre in Canberra.

There are two HF radio stations used to operate this system, one at Wiluna (VMW), Western Australia, and one at Charleville (VMC), Queensland.

For more information go to the AMSA website.

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Last updated: 10 March 2015

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