What ships today still have radio operators?


Cruising sailors are really the only mariners still relying on HF. Sailnet and Sailmail are important services for them.

Ham rigs are popular with cruising sailors. A few fishermen too. Ham radio certainly is much diminished from what it use to be.

Commercial HF radio stations have become few and far between. The internet and satellites have damn near killed It off. It use to be easy to tune in news, talk shows, and music on HF frequencies. I use to listen to BBC, CBC, CNN on multiple stations and frequencies, but now it’s really difficult to find useable reception.There use to be a lot of AM stations, but most are gone now.

I think it’s a big mistake to allow MF and HF radio to fade away. It crazy to over rely on VHF, cell phone, satellite, and internet communications.


Agree. I feel the same way about Loran and Morse code. Penny wise and pound foolish.


The USCG admirals who rushed to dynamite the LORAN towers —- before Congress could insist that they turn it back on —- should still be in prison.

As much as I hate Morse Code, it should be taught to everyone in grade school.


You’d be surprised how popular Morse code is even when it’s not required for the ham exams anymore. As I type, our local club is erecting the antenna at my camp house for the 160 meter CW contest starting this evening.


DSC stands for Digital Selective Calling for distress calling on Inmarsat Satellite, VHF, MF and HF. In this DSC system every ship terminal has it unique number. Once the distress button is pushed the ship’s particulars and GPS position are automatically sent to the shore stations which will notify all parties concerned like the SAR. This link provides more information of the GMDSS equipment required by SOLAS for the different sea areas.


Effective 1 August 2013, the U. S. Coast Guard terminated its radio guard of the international voice distress, safety and calling frequency 2182 kHz and even the international digital selective calling (DSC) distress and safety frequency 2187.5 kHz. Additionally, marine information and weather broadcasts transmitted on 2670 kHz terminated concurrently. So in US coastal waters you better donot try to get help on this frequency.

The Coast Guard issued a safety alert in August 2017 after learning some single sideband radio users are still trying to contact the Coast Guard over an incorrect frequency. The Coast Guard said it stopped monitoring the former international radiotelephone distress frequency 2182 kHz already more than four years ago!

In place of the former distress frequency 2182 kHz, the Coast Guard monitors the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System SSB-HF frequencies 4125, 6215, 8291 and 12290 kHz.

That you still are picking up distress calls on 2182 kHz proves what I wrote above. Where are you located in Canada and what is your call sign and what services do you provide?

As of July 1st, the last of the Mohicans Coast Station WLO (and KLB) based in Mobile, AL USA went off-the-air, due to low traffic volume and inability to pay their fixed costs!!! Shipcom is still alive, but struggling financially and have ceased live operation of their stations, hoping to restart soon (possibly relocating their base of operations), probably in a more streamlined approach with automatic DSC and PACTOR connections 24/7 and SSB Voice telephone interconnects with more limited hours. For information about stations world wide, frequencies and weather fax information see this link which provides a good overview.


As you know 2182 has inherent range problems, it was picked before propagation properties were fully understood. It never should have been used in the first place.

It’s true that people are still trying to use it: 8/3/2017:Marine Safety Alert 08-17 – Knowing your high seas comms equipment may save your life

It is important to note that the Coast Guard discontinued monitoring the SSB-HF frequency of 2182 KHz over four years ago; nevertheless, many mariners continue to attempt to contact the Coast Guard using this frequency.

But there is also this:

Also, many mariners attempt to contact the Coast Guard using their EPIRBs, cell phones, SAT phones, and even NOAA weather electronics.

Some confusion is inevitably no matter what.


The 2182 kHz and nearby frequencies have a reliable range of around 50 to 150 nautical miles (90 to 280 km) during the day and 150 to 300 nautical miles (280 to 560 km) or sometimes more at night. That is according to the books but from experience I know that in the North Sea, Baltic and Mediterranean bowls the propagation was very often beyond those specs.

In European waters 2182 kHz was quite sufficient with the many, many coastal radio stations from the various countries. There always were a couple of stations nearby.

Trading regularly between the PG and Europe we discovered that almost every time we were approaching Italy we could make crew radio telephone calls on 2850 kHz via Scheveningen Radio PCH channel Anna, a distance of over 1300 nautical miles! That phenomenon was probably due to a tunneling effect along the Italian coast and the Adriatic Sea. The same was true when later, due to the Suez Canal crisis, we had to sail around Cape Good Hope. While rounding that cape we could receive for some hours Dutch broadcast stations and even PCH! We tried to connect but that didnot work, alas.

Channel Anna is now in use by a broadcast station KCBS in, of all places, Pyongyang the capital of North Korea…:disappointed_relieved: IMG_3499


I used to see them on Patriot Contract vessels (gray hulls) and heard of them still being on Central Gulf Line (or whatever they are called now, Seacor?) and Matson Line ships.

Though, they seemed more like I.T. department people than actual RO’s.