202342 - VHF+DSC+GPS=Safety

30 Aug 2023 MARS

Analysis of a marine casualty involving the loss of a commercial fishing vessel found that the Digital Selective Calling (DSC) equipped VHF radio was not properly configured with the vessel’s GPS system.

As edited from USCG Safety Alert 03-23

While the Master was able to broadcast the vessel’s position before sinking, having the DSC alert properly enabled could have provided the Master more opportunity to focus on emergency operations and egress from the sinking vessel, while still continuously broadcasting an emergency signal over VHF.

Lessons learned

  • Obtain and properly register an MMSI number.
  • Ensure that your GPS and DSC-equipped radio are connected.
  • Confirm proper operation of your radio equipment by adequate testing.