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Functioning Marine Radio Crucial When Emergencies Happen


Article courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary

All kinds of emergencies happen regularly on America’s waterways. With millions of recreational and commercial boaters in varying degrees of health, boating skill and equipment shape on our waters, this is to be expected.

When emergencies do happen, having a functioning marine radio onboard can make the crucial difference.

On Friday, a Good Samaritan with a functioning marine radio came to the rescue of a fisherman who had lost consciousness while fishing on his 28-foot sport fishing boat 47 miles southeast of Montauk, New York. No one on board the sport fisherman could call for help because the vessel did not have a working marine radio.

Fortunately for our ill fisherman, another vessel in the area had a functioning marine radio, and was able to summons a Coast Guard air rescue crew from Air Station Cape Cod. The boater was airlifted and taken to Rhode Island Hospital,Providence, R.I., to be evaluated.

Today’s marine radios are compact, reliable, relatively inexpensive, and with the new Digital Selective Calling marine radios, built to get emergency help to the distressed boater with pinpoint location accuracy. In an emergency the DSC radio will send an automated digital distress alert consisting of your identification and position (if the radio is connected to a GPS or Loran unit) to other DSC equipped vessels and rescue facilities.

Rescue 21 is the Coast Guard system that will provide the mayday response capability described above. For more details on the Rescue 21 System and its availability in your area visit

In any case, make sure your boat has a working marine radio, and that you test it regularly to make sure it works well. That way, when you need to call for help, maybe as a Good Samaritan yourself, you will be able to make connect with those who can help.

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed, volunteer Component of Team Coast Guard who assist the active duty Coast Guard in all of its varied missions, except for military and direct law enforcement. These men and women can be found on the nation’s waterways, in the air, in classrooms and on the dock, performing Maritime Domain Awareness patrols, safety patrols, vessel safety checks and public education.