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Sending a MAYDAY from a VHF DSC Radio

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Sending a MAYDAY

This checklist can be used for sending a MAYDAY with any vessel fitted with Digital Selective Calling (DSC). Distress alerts should be made only when immediate assistance is required for the vessel you’re on. If immediate assistance is needed for another vessel do not use this procedure. Consider doing a MAYDAY Relay if another vessel is in trouble and unable to use the Radio.

Before sending a MAYDAY familiarize yourself with these details

  • Vessel name ________________________
  • MMSI Number _____________________
  • Call Sign ____________________________

Using the VHF Radio for sending a MAYDAY

  • Make sure the radio is on (Check main battery switch and VHF power)
  • Open the cover over the red distress button
  • Press the red distress button and hold while it counts down (3 seconds)
  • If prompted to choose a relevant distress reason (fire, sinking, man over board, etc.) do so and follow instructions
  • Send alert by pressing the button for 5 seconds (this will send an electronic alert to all boats/stations within range forcing their radio alarms to go off).
  • You may or may not receive an acknowledgment that will be shown on your radio screen. Regardless as to whether an acknowledgement is received or not count for 15 seconds.
  • Pick up the radio voice transmitter and depress the side button to announce the following broadcast.
  • IMPORTANT: Speak as slow as possible. Vessels in your area will be writing your broadcast down on paper.

Sending a MAYDAY Broadcast

  • MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY
  • This is _____________________, _____________________, _____________________.
  • (Name of the vessel spoken 3 times).
  • Call Sign ___________________ (Read Call Sign slowly)
  • MMSI _____________________ (Read MMSI number slowly)
  • MAYDAY _____________________ (Name of vessel spoken once)
  • Call Sign ___________________ (Read Call Sign slowly)
  • MMSI _____________________ (Read MMSI number slowly)
  • My position is ___________________________________________________________________ (Read your latitude and longitude or bearing and distance from a charted object)
  • The nature of distress is ________________________________ (Sinking, fire, etc.)
  • I require immediate assistance
  • We have _____ persons on board
  • Any other information – type of vessel, hull color, whether or not there is a life raft, etc. _____________________________________________________________________
  • Over (Remove finger from transmit button)

MAYDAY Acknowledgement

  • Keep listening on channel 16 for an acknowledgement
  • If an acknowledgement is not received repeat the voice distress call and message

Sending a MAYDAY Example

MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY. This is Selene, Selene, Selene.

Call Sign V (Victor) X (X-ray) 4139.

MMSI number 234001547.

MAYDAY Selene.

Call Sign V (Victor) X (X-ray) 4139.

MMSI number 234001547.

My position is four-nine-degrees, three-eight decimal four-five North and Zero-Zero-Six degrees, two-zero decimal one-four West. The nature of my distress is an engine fire. I require immediate assistance. We have 4 people on board.

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About Kim Brown

CheckListables Co-founder Kim Brown

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