ALEXANDRIA, VA, July 22, 2008 -- Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) has registered its 50,000th boat owner with an enhanced VHF radio that will greatly improve their safety on the water. The registrations are part of a free service the Association launched in 2000 to enable boaters to take advantage of the U.S. Coast Guard’s new Rescue 21 coastal radio system. Rescue 21 enhances distress communications, speeds up search and rescue response time, provides more accurate direction-finding, and eliminates VHF radio coverage gaps.
BoatUS was the first non-government entity to offer registration of VHF radios with the Digital Selective Calling (DSC) feature under an agreement with the Coast Guard and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Registration is necessary to obtain a Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number, which is then programmed into the radio by the boater. In an emergency, the MMSI is encoded in the SOS transmission, which will also help reduce hoax distress calls.
By registering a DSC VHF radio with BoatUS, key information such as a boat description and owner contact phone numbers, is logged into the Coast Guard’s national MMSI database used by search and rescue personnel. The greatest benefit of a DSC radio is its ability to connect to a GPS or Loran receiver and automatically transmit the position of the vessel in distress, along with the MMSI number, all with the push of one “mayday” button.
“Now that Rescue 21 covers over 15,000 miles of coastline, we know that the use of this technology is taking the ‘search’ out of search and rescue and already saving lives,” said Nancy Michelman, president of BoatUS. “This 50,000 registration milestone also demonstrates what can be done when we partner with the federal government to create programs that benefit the entire boating community.”
While Rescue 21 is not yet operational in all regions, commercial ships are required to monitor Ch. 70. To register your DSC VHF radio and get your MMSI number or to see a schedule of Rescue 21 installations, go to http://www.BoatUS.com/MMSI. Also at this site is a free BoatUS DSC VHF radio tutorial, “Can You Hear Me?”.
BoatUS – Boat Owners Association of The United States – is the nation’s leading advocate for recreational boaters providing its 650,000 members with a wide array of consumer services.