VHF marine

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VHF Marine Band, marine radio, VHF radio, VHF radiotelephone or even "VHF marine CB" to some people. Worldwide allocation 156-162 MHz. Several country-specific variations. In some parts of the USA, parts of the marine band is allocated to other services (either on a primary or secondary basis). Mixture of simplex and half-duplex (split-channel) allocations. Some channels used as repeaters in certain countries (Australia, New Zealand), as links to landline telephone system (defunct now) or crossband to other marine allocations such as 27 MHz or HF marine.

Like many other VHF / UHF Radio services, the VHF marine band is heavily pirated (or bootlegged) for non-marine land mobile purposes. It is especially popular with hunters, truckers, logging companies and delivery services. While similar services such as plain old CB, MURS, FRS and GMRS exist to fill these needs, the VHF marine band continues to suffer from misuse, especially away from water where enforcement is difficult. So common is VHF marine usage by hunters that it has earned the nickname "The Bambi Band". Although, in the late 2010s, the number of hunting clubs switching from VHF marine to licensed FCC business radio frequencies is steadily increasing, probably more because of interference issues and less because of FCC enforcement.

Internationally, the VHF marine band is set up for either single frequency (simplex) or split-frequency (duplex). On duplex channels, the higher side is the "B" channel, the lower/simplex channel is the "A" channel. VHF marine radios set to "USA mode" operate in simplex mode only, making all channels "A". One will often hear a channel referred to in this manner "channel 22A" for example, simply means channel 22, simplex.

The 156.000 MHz to 156.250 MHz region is shared with Part 90 land mobile in certain parts of the United States. This comprises public safety allocations from 155.9925 MHz to 156.240 MHz (7.5 kHz steps). In some areas, land mobile allocations are prohibited above 156 MHz to prevent interference with VHF marine communications (for example, in the New Orleans area, in certain Canadian border regions, etc.)


Contents

VHF Marine Channels International and USA Simplex

Channel Frequency Purpose/Use (USA)
00 156.000 MHz Not allocated for marine use in the United States
01 156.050 MHz VTS/Port Ops/Commercial, New Orleans/Lower Mississippi River area only
02 156.100 MHz Not allocated for marine use in the United States
03 156.150 MHz Not allocated for marine use in the United States
04 156.200 MHz Not allocated for marine use in the United States
05 156.250 MHz VTS/Port Ops/Commercial, Houston, Seattle, and New Orleans/Lower Mississippi River areas only
06 156.300 MHz Intership Safety
07 156.350 MHz Commercial
08 156.400 MHz Commercial (Intership only)
09 156.450 MHz Boater Calling (Commercial/Non-Commercial)
10 156.500 MHz Commercial
11 156.550 MHz Commercial, VTS in certain areas
12 156.600 MHz Port Ops, VTS in certain areas
13 156.650 MHz Bridge-to-bridge/Intership Navigation Safety
14 156.700 MHz Port Ops, VTS in certain areas
15 156.750 MHz Environmental (Receive Only), US Government Use, Class C EPIRBs
16 156.800 MHz International Distress, Safety and Calling. USCG, coast stations, and ships maintain watch on this channel
17 156.850 MHz State and/or Local Government Maritime Control
18 156.900 MHz Commercial
19 156.950 MHz Commercial
20 157.000 MHz Port Ops
21 157.050 MHz US Coast Guard Only
22 157.100 MHz US Coast Guard Liaison and Safety Information Broadcasts
23 157.150 MHz US Coast Guard Only
24 157.200 MHz VHF Digital Small Message Services (VDSMS), Analog Voice Also Permitted
25 157.250 MHz VHF Digital Small Message Services (VDSMS), Analog Voice Also Permitted
26 157.300 MHz VHF Digital Small Message Services (VDSMS), Analog Voice Also Permitted
27 157.350 MHz VHF Digital Small Message Services (VDSMS), Analog Voice Also Permitted
28 157.400 MHz VHF Digital Small Message Services (VDSMS), Analog Voice Also Permitted
29 157.450 MHz Not allocated for marine use in the United States
60 156.025 MHz Not allocated for marine use in the United States
61 156.075 MHz Not allocated for marine use in the United States
62 156.125 MHz Not allocated for marine use in the United States
63 156.175 MHz VTS/Port Ops/Commercial, New Orleans/Lower Mississippi River area only
64 156.225 MHz Not allocated for marine use in the United States
65 156.275 MHz Port Ops
66 156.325 MHz Port Ops
67 156.375 MHz Commercial (Intership Only)
68 156.425 MHz Non-Commercial, Recreational Boaters
69 156.475 MHz Non-Commercial, Recreational Boaters
70 156.525 MHz DSC (No voice transmissions permitted)
71 156.575 MHz Non-Commercial, Recreational Boaters
72 156.625 MHz Non-Commercial (Intership Only), Recreational Boaters
73 156.675 MHz Port Ops
74 156.725 MHz Port Ops
75 156.775 MHz Guard Band For Channel 16 156.8 MHz - Not allocated for use in USA
76 156.825 MHz Guard Band For Channel 16 156.8 MHz - Not allocated for use in USA
77 156.875 MHz Port Ops (Intership Only)
78 156.925 MHz Non-Commercial, Recreational Boaters
79 156.975 MHz Commercial. Non-Commercial in Great Lakes only.
80 157.025 MHz Commercial. Non-Commercial in Great Lakes only.
81 157.075 MHz US Coast Guard/US Government Only/Environmental Protection
82 157.125 MHz US Coast Guard Only
83 157.175 MHz US Coast Guard Only
84 157.225 MHz VHF Digital Small Message Services (VDSMS), Analog Voice Also Permitted
85 157.275 MHz VHF Digital Small Message Services (VDSMS), Analog Voice Also Permitted
86 157.325 MHz VHF Digital Small Message Services (VDSMS), Analog Voice Also Permitted
87 157.375 MHz VHF Digital Small Message Services (VDSMS), Analog Voice Also Permitted
88 157.425 MHz Commercial/Non-Commercial (Intership Only), Recreational Boaters
AIS 1 87B 161.975 MHz Automatic Identification System (AIS Channel 1/Channel 87B)
AIS 2 88B 162.025 MHz Automatic Identification System (AIS Channel 2/Channel 88B)
AIS 3 75 / 75A / 1075 156.775 MHz Automatic Identification System (AIS Channel 3/Channel 75)
AIS 4 76 / 76A / 1076 156.825 MHz Automatic Identification System (AIS Channel 4/Channel 76)
WX 1 162.550 MHz NOAA Weather Radio (Receive Only)
WX 2 162.400 MHz NOAA Weather Radio (Receive Only)
WX 3 162.475 MHz NOAA Weather Radio (Receive Only)
WX 4 162.425 MHz NOAA Weather Radio (Receive Only)
WX 5 162.450 MHz NOAA Weather Radio (Receive Only)
WX 6 162.500 MHz NOAA Weather Radio (Receive Only)
WX 7 162.525 MHz NOAA Weather Radio (Receive Only)
WX 8 161.650 MHz Weather Radio Canada - VHF Channel 21B
WX 9 161.775 MHz Weather Radio Canada - VHF Channel 83B
WX 10 163.275 MHz Weather Radio Canada (Receive Only)


The WX channels may be in order from lowest frequency to highest frequency, the original 3 NOAA Weather Radio frequencies (162.55 MHz, 162.4 MHz and 162.475 MHz) were supplanted by the 4 additional frequencies later on. Weather channels 8, 9 and 10 are only used in Canada.

Channels 24-28 and 84-87 were allocated for "coast station" (radiotelephone) services but these are no longer used. In some countries VHF marine continues to operate as a duplex system, with certain areas implementing repeaters (Australia for example). In other countries such as the United States, the 161 MHz high side ("B" channel) of the duplex pairs for these channels (161.800 - 162.000 MHz) have been re-allocated to other services, including land mobile radio, public safety systems and reserve/emergency interoperability frequencies.

Land mobile users of the 157.2 MHz to 157.4 MHz and 161.8 to 162.0 MHz frequencies are still licensed as Radio Service Code PC - Public Coast Stations, Auctioned. A licensed user will acquire a block of frequencies as well as a market area. For example, instead of being licensed for 157.2 MHz and 161.8 MHz, a user will be licensed for 157.18125 MHz to 151.20625 MHz and 161.78125 MHz to 161.80625 MHz.

This practice is common in areas where the VHF high band is used for wide-area trunking systems, often for public safety or law enforcement purposes. The 160.2 MHz to 161.64 MHz portion is allocated for use by railroad systems in the United States and Canada (NFM voice and NXDN digital voice/data).

In other countries, a mix of simplex and duplex channel plans are used. The duplex (or B channel) is + 4.6 MHz offset from the A channel. Not all channels are used in duplex mode in all other places, and simplex use is extremely common (as is the US standard of simplex only).

The FCC permits use of the shared marine frequencies discussed in areas away from the coasts and major waterways to avoid interference. Channels 24-28 and 84-87 are officially still allocated to duplex radiotelephone and VHF Digital Small Message Service data services but are heavily used for analog voice communications, usually non-commercial in nature.

Channel 70 (156.525 MHz) is used for Digital Selective Calling (DSC) and voice communications are not permitted.

156.800 MHz - VHF marine channel 16, is the international VHF distress, safety, and calling channel.

VHF marine radio frequency bands (international allocation)

156.000-157.425 MHz Simplex/Duplex on certain channels/in certain areas 160.600-162.025 MHz Duplex 161.975 Automatic Identification System (AIS) 162.025 Automatic Identification System (AIS)

Additional VHF Marine Channels (Simplex) - Not Authorized in USA - European Private Use

Channel Frequency Purpose/Use
00 156.000 MHz Private Ship to Ship/Ship to Shore Simplex
29 157.450 MHz Private Ship to Ship/Ship to Shore Simplex
30 157.500 MHz Private Ship to Ship/Ship to Shore Simplex
31 157.550 MHz Private Ship to Ship/Ship to Shore Simplex
32 157.600 MHz Private Ship to Ship/Ship to Shore Simplex
33 157.650 MHz Private Ship to Ship/Ship to Shore Simplex
34 157.700 MHz Private Ship to Ship/Ship to Shore Simplex
35 157.750 MHz Private Ship to Ship/Ship to Shore Simplex
36 157.800 MHz Private Ship to Ship/Ship to Shore Simplex
37 157.850 MHz Private Ship to Ship/Ship to Shore Simplex
38A 157.900 MHz Private Ship to Ship/Ship to Shore Simplex
38B 162.500 MHz Private Ship to Ship/Ship to Shore Simplex
39 157.950 MHz Private Ship to Ship/Ship to Shore Simplex
40 158.000 MHz Private Ship to Ship/Ship to Shore Simplex
41 158.050 MHz Private Ship to Ship/Ship to Shore Simplex
42 158.100 MHz Private Ship to Ship/Ship to Shore Simplex
43 158.150 MHz Private Ship to Ship/Ship to Shore Simplex
44 158.200 MHz Private Ship to Ship/Ship to Shore Simplex
45 158.250 MHz Private Ship to Ship/Ship to Shore Simplex
46 158.300 MHz Private Ship to Ship/Ship to Shore Simplex
47 158.350 MHz Private Ship to Ship/Ship to Shore Simplex
48 158.400 MHz Private Ship to Ship/Ship to Shore Simplex
49 158.450 MHz Private Ship to Ship/Ship to Shore Simplex
M1 (UK) or M 157.850 MHz Private Marina Channel (private marinas, yacht clubs, etc), UK only - channel 37
M2 (UK) 161.425 MHz Private Marina Channel (private marinas, yacht clubs, etc), UK only
M3 (UK) 161.225 MHz Private Marina Channel (private marinas, yacht clubs, etc), UK only
P1 (UK) 161.350 MHz On board ship comms only (low power)
P2 (UK) 161.450 MHz On board ship comms only (low power)
P1 (Nordic) 155.500 MHz Private Marina/Yacht club channel, Nordic countries only
P2 (Nordic) 155.525 MHz Private Marina/Yacht club channel, Nordic countries only
P3 (Nordic) 155.650 MHz Private Marina/Yacht club channel, Nordic countries only
P4 (Nordic) 155.625 MHz Private Fishing Trawler channel, Nordic countries only
P5 (Nordic) 155.775 MHz Private Fishing Trawler channel, Nordic countries only
P6 (Nordic) 155.825 MHz Private Fishing Trawler channel, Nordic countries only
P1 (Denmark) 155.375 MHz Private Channel, Denmark only
P2 (Denmark) 155.575 MHz Private Channel, Denmark only
P3 (Denmark) 155.450 MHz Private Channel, Denmark only
P4 (Denmark) 155.800 MHz Private Channel, Denmark only

On-board or Dockside UHF Marine (portables and on-ship or dockside repeater use)

10 MHz offset (international plan) 10.225 MHz offset (US and Canada channel plan). Input frequencies may be used for simplex purposes as well. International channel plan frequencies interfere with US-allocated GMRS and FRS frequencies. Frequencies are shared with UHF business band in the United States. Elsewhere, other UHF on-board radio systems may be used, including PMR446 or other dedicated systems generally in the 400-512 MHz or 380-520 MHz UHF range.

Channel Frequency (repeater output or simplex) Frequency (repeater input or simplex)
1 (International) 457.5250 MHz 467.5250 MHz
2 (International) 457.5375 MHz 467.5375 MHz
3 (International) 457.5500 MHz 467.5500 MHz
4 (International) 457.5625 MHz 467.5625 MHz
5 (International) 457.5750 MHz 467.5750 MHz
1 (USA, Canada) 457.5250 MHz 467.7500 MHz
2 (USA, Canada) 457.5375 MHz 467.7625 MHz
3 (USA, Canada) 457.5500 MHz 467.7750 MHz
4 (USA, Canada) 457.5625 MHz 467.7875 MHz
5 (USA, Canada) 457.5750 MHz 467.8000 MHz
6 (USA, Canada) 457.5875 MHz 467.8125 MHz
7 (USA, Canada) 457.6000 MHz 467.8250 MHz
8 (USA, Canada) 457.6125 MHz 467.8375 MHz

VHF marine band equipment

Modern ICOM IC-M605 VHF marine band radio with built-in GPS and DSC capability. 156 MHz - 163 MHz simplex and duplex. This radio is tuned to the international distress and calling channel 16 frequency of 156.800 MHz
Older-generation Uniden MC635 VHF marine band radio without DSC capability 156-163 MHz simplex and duplex VHF-FM transceiver. This radio is tuned to the international distress and calling channel 16 frequency of 156.8 MHz.



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