The Cruising Association’s RATS (Regulations and Technical Services) Committee has been in discussion with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) about the use of calls to HMCG on Channel 16 requesting radio checks.
RATS has anecdotal evidence of a proliferation of such requests and that these seemed to have spread from the Solent to other areas and Falmouth in particular.
Speaking on behalf of RATS, Robin Baron says: “It seems to us that this is not best use of HMCG resources at a time when we know that they are hard pressed with other more important issues including particularly Search and Rescue.”
Robin continues: “The MCA have confirmed that radio checks should primarily be conducted with local marinas and nearby vessels. Radio checks with HMCG should not be a first resort as it ties up the air and increases operator workload.”
RATS’ own research has confirmed that radio checks with other vessels or shore stations at 1W power and at a distance of around 8 miles provide a much better test of antenna and radio set performance.
Their recommendation is that radio checks should be carried out primarily with marinas and other shore stations or with other vessels. National Coastwatch Institute (NCI) shore stations are usually well placed for such calls which should be made on Channel 65 (e.g. Rame Head NCI. This is vessel Hanson. Radio check please. Over.).