The service, called digital selective calling (DSC), allows mariners to instantly send an automatically formatted distress alert to the Coast Guard or other rescue authority anywhere in the world. DSC also provides non-emergency capabilities, allowing you to communicate individually with another boat or group of boats using Maritime Mobile Service Identities (MMSI numbers). You can send and receive each other's positions as well, if your radio and the other vessel's radio are interfaced to GPS. Digital selective calling allows mariners to initiate or receive distress, urgency, safety and routine radiotelephone calls to or from any similarly equipped vessel or shore station, without requiring either party to be near a radio loudspeaker. DSC acts like the dial and bell of a telephone, allowing you to "direct dial" and "ring" other radios, or allow others to "ring" you, without having to listen to a speaker. New VHF and HF radiotelephones have DSC capability.
This year the Coast Guard is scheduled to complete the upgrade of their coastal Search and Rescue capabilities, known as Rescue 21. In the next few years, Rescue 21 will eliminate gaps in VHF coverage over the entire coastal US, allow accurate, precise tracking of the location of mayday signals within 20 miles of the coast, and allow enhanced digital recording and playback of distress calls.
All fixed VHF radios now are required to include DSC capability. If your DSC-equipped radio is interfaced with a GPS receiver it will be able to transmit crucial vessel information, your position and, with some higher-end radios, the nature of your distress call (undesignated, fire, flooding, collision, grounding, capsize, sinking, adrift, abandoning, piracy, MOB). In an emergency, one push of a button will make your DSC radio send an automated digital distress alert—like a VHF-frequency EPIRB—containing your position and Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number to rescue facilities and other DSC-equipped vessels. We think that these automated distress capabilities are the single best reason to consider replacement of your non-DSC radio, even if it is still working like new.
To get the safety benefits of DSC you must obtain your nine-digit MMSI number, and you must connect your VHF radio to a GPS receiver. The BoatU.S. MMSI Program has been certified by both the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Coast Guard to assign MMSI numbers to vessels with DSC capable radios. To obtain and register your MMSI number, the Coast Guard recommends logging onto MMSI Registration for VHF/DSC and following the instructions.
Torresen Marine's Ships Store has friendly associates to help you find the new DSC capable VHF radio that is right for you. Stop by and see us, give us a call at 231-759-8596 or e-mail Randy anytime for assistance with this important upgrade to your boat.
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