At the back of the printed book and eBook versions of RYA VHF Handbook, there are various appendices and additional resources. These are not included in the audiobook A-G31 RYA VHF Handbook as they are intended as visual reference resources. Instead, this web page replicates the information in these appendices where possible. Where not possible, links to equivalent external sources have been provided.
(Nicosia 1995 and revised in Kyiv 2009)
A1. The general principles and basic features
1.1 Types of communication in the maritime mobile service:
Distress, urgency and safety communications
SAR (Search and Rescue) Communication
Port operations and ship movement service
On board communications
1.2 Types of stations:
Rescue coordination centres
Pilot, VTS and port stations
1.3 General knowledge of VHF radio channels:
The physical concept of frequency
Propagation and range of communications
The concept of radio channel: simplex, semi-duplex and duplex
The use of and restriction on VHF channels
Distress and safety channels
Port operations and ship movement channels
Public correspondence channels
National channels for small craft safety
A2. System overview of the GMDSS structure
2.1 System design:
A3. Search and Rescue (SAR)
3.1 SAR regions
3.2 The role of Rescue coordination centres
3.3. Organisation of search and rescue
3.4 SAR communication including on-scene communications
A4. Maritime Safety Information (MSI)
4.1 The NAVTEX system:
Purpose and capabilities, including Distress and Safety functions
Message format (transmitter ID, message type, message number)
Selection of transmitters and message type
Messages which can not be rejected
B1. The VHF radio installation
1.1 Radiotelephone channels:
Channel selection and controls
Dual watch facilities and controls
1.2 Basic controls and usage:
Connecting the power
Press to transmit switch
High/low output power switch
1.3 Handheld VHF radiotelephone:
B2. Digital Selective Calling (DSC)
2.1 Call categorisation, priority and definitions:
2.2 Types of call
2.3 Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI)
The nationality identification: Maritime Identification Digits (MID)
Ship station numbers
Coast station numbers
Group call numbers
2.4 Facilities and usage:
Data entry and display
Manual and automatic updating of vessel position
Reviewing received messages
Watchkeeping functions and controls
B3. Antennas, interfacing and power sources
3.1 Antennas performance and positioning
Connection to position device
3.3 Power sources:
Connections to different power sources
Requirements and safety
Maintenance of batteries
C1. DSC distress, urgency and safety communication procedures
1.1 Distress procedures:
Transmission of a distress alert
Receipt and acknowledgement by a coast station
Reception of a shore-to-ship distress alert relay
Transmission of a distress alert by a station not itself in distress
1.2 Urgency and Safety communications via DSC equipment
Procedures for DSC Urgency and Safety announcements
C2. Protection of distress frequencies
2.1 Avoiding harmful interference:
Avoidance of the transmission of false alert
Status of Channel 16 and 70
2.2 Transmissions during distress traffic
2.3 Prevention of unauthorised transmissions
2.4 Test protocols and procedures:
Testing DSC equipment
Radiotelephone test procedures
2.5 Avoidance of transmission in VHF guard bands
2.6 Procedures to follow when a false or inadvertent Distress Alert is transmitted
C3. Alerting, Communication and Locating Signals
3.1 406 MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBS):
Registration and coding
Operation, activation and testing
121.5 MHz homing function
Mounting float-free mechanism
Battery expiry date
3.2 Search and Rescue Radar Transponder and Transmitter (SART):
Operation height and range
Battery expiry date
3.3. Handheld VHF:
D1. Ability to exchange communications relevant to the safety of life at sea
1.1 Distress communications:
Distress signal MAYDAY
Acknowledgement RECEIVED MAYDAY
Follow up distress traffic
The control of distress traffic
SEELONCE MAYDAY and SEELONCE FEENEE
Transmission of a distress message by a station not itself in distress
1.2 Urgency communications:
Urgency signal PAN-PAN
1.3 Safety communications:
Safety signal SECURITE
1.4 Awareness of the existence and use of IMO Standard Marine Communication Phrases Vocabulary:
1.5 Phonetic alphabet
D2. Practical and theoretical knowledge of radiotelephony procedures
2.1 Traffic routines:
Use of callsigns
Establishing communication on intership, port operation and ship movement channels
Unanswered calls and garbled calls
2.2 Public correspondence and radiotelephony call procedures:
Method of calling a Coast Station
Calls to ships from Coast Stations
2.3 Traffic charges:
International charging system
Accounting Authority Identification Code (AAIC)
E1. Regulations, obligatory procedures and practices
1.1 Awareness of National and International Documentation:
List of Coast Stations and Special Service Stations
List of Ship Stations and Maritime Mobile Service Identity Assignments
1.2 Knowledge of the international regulations and agreements:
Radio Operators Certificate
Ship Station Licence
Radio record keeping
Secrecy of correspondence
Candidates must show proof of theoretical and practical knowledge and compliance with national requirements.
When it is necessary to indicate that the Standard Marine Communication Phrases are to be used, the following messages may be sent:
“Please use the Standard Marine Communication Phrases.”
“I will use the Standard Marine Communication Phrases.”
If necessary, external communication messages may be preceded by the following message markers:
QUESTION indicates that the following message is of interrogative character
ANSWER indicates that the following message is the reply to a previous question
REQUEST indicates that the contents of the following message are asking for action from others with respect to the ship
INFORMATION indicates that the following message is restricted to observed facts
INTENTION indicates that the following message informs others about immediate navigational actions intended to be taken
WARNING indicates that the following message informs other traffic participants about dangers
ADVICE indicates that the following message implies the intention of the sender to influence the recipient(s) by a recommendation
INSTRUCTION indicates that the following message implies the intention of the sender to influence the recipient(s) by a regulation.
Where possible, sentences should be introduced by one of the following verb forms:
Always to be used when mandatory order are being given
I am / You are
I wish to
I do not require
I am not / You are not
I do not have
I do not wish
I will not
You need not
There is not
Do I require?
Am I? / Are you?
Do you have?
Do you wish to?
Where the answer to a question is in the affirmative, say:
“yes...” — followed by the appropriate phrase in full.
Where the answer to a question is in the negative, say:
“no...” — followed by the appropriate phrase in full.
Where the information is not immediately available but soon will be, say:
Where the information cannot be obtained, say:
Where a message is not properly heard, say:
Where a message is not understood, say:
“Message not understood”.
MAYDAY (repeated three times) is to be used to announce a distress message
PAN PAN (repeated three times) is to be used to announce an urgency message
SECURITE (repeated three times) is to be used to announce a safety message
What is your name (and call sign)?
How do you read me?
I read you...
With signal strength...
Stand by on channel...
Change to channel...
I cannot read you.
I cannot understand you.
Please use the...
Standard Marine Communication Phrases
International Code of Signals
I am passing a message for vessel...
I am ready to receive your message.
I am not ready to receive your message.
I do not have channel...
Please use channel...
If any parts of the message are considered sufficiently important to need safeguarding, use the word "repeat".
"You will load 163 repeat 163 tons bunkers."
"Do not repeat not overtake".
When latitude and longitude are used, these shall be expressed in degrees and minutes (and decimals of a minute if necessary), north or south of the Equator and east or west of Greenwich.
When the position is related to a mark, the mark shall be a well-defined charted object. The bearing shall be in the 360 degree notation from true north and shall be that of the position FROM the mark.
"There are salvage operations in position 15 degrees 34 minutes north 61 degrees 29 minutes west."
"Your position is 137 degrees from Barr Head lighthouse distance two decimal four miles."
Always to be expressed in 360 degree notation from north (true north unless otherwise stated). Whether this is to TO or FROM a mark can be stated.
The bearing of the mark or vessel concerned, is the bearing in the 360 degree notation from north (true north unless otherwise stated), except in the case of relative bearings. Bearings may be either FROM the mark or FROM the vessel.
"The pilot boat is bearing 215° from you."
"Your bearing is 127° from the signal station."
Note: Vessels reporting their position should always quote their bearing FROM the mark, as described in paragraph 7.
Relative bearings can be expressed in degrees relative to the vessel's head or bow. More frequently this is in relation to the port or starboard bow.
"The buoy is 030° on your port bow."
Relative D/F bearings are more commonly expressed in the 360 degree notation.
Preferably to be expressed in nautical miles or cables (tenths of a mile) otherwise in kilometres or metres, the unit always to be stated.
To be expressed in knots:
a. without further notation meaning speed through the water; or
b. "ground speed" meaning speed over the ground.
Numbers are to be spoken: "Onefive-zero" for 150.
"Two point five" for 2.5.
Place names used should be those on the chart or Sailing Directions in use. Should these not be understood, latitude and longitude should be given.
Times should be expressed in the 24 hour notation indicating whether UTC, zone time or local shore time is being used.
Note: In cases not covered by the above phraseology normal radiotelephone practice will prevail.
A channel selection chart is available in 'A1. Radio Regulations Appendix 18' of the Ofcom Guidance Notes for Licensing. Please see here.
A GMDSS sea areas map is available from the MCA website. Please see here.