A marine radio is the primary communication and safety device for any activities on water. Any distress transmission broadcast over VHF radio is heard by all radios in range, whereas a cellphone call is an exclusive direct call, and cannot be heard by any vessels in range. From rowboats to ocean cruisers, any boat that shoves off from shore should carry a marine radio. For more on marine radios and why every boater needs one, see the USCG Navigation Center website, in particular, the page MARINE RADIO INFORMATION FOR BOATERS
The following table of marine VHF radio channel frequencies is put together by the USCG, on the USCG Navcenter page U.S. VHF Channels & Freqs
|Channel Number||Ship Transmit MHz||Ship Receive MHz||Use|
|01A||156.050||156.050||Port Operations and Commercial, VTS. Available only in New Orleans / Lower Mississippi area.|
|05A||156.250||156.250||Port Operations or VTS in the Houston, New Orleans and Seattle areas.|
|08||156.400||156.400||Commercial (Intership only)|
|09||156.450||156.450||Boater Calling. Commercial and Non-Commercial.|
|11||156.550||156.550||Commercial. VTS in selected areas.|
|12||156.600||156.600||Port Operations. VTS in selected areas.|
|13||156.650||156.650||Intership Navigation Safety (Bridge-to-bridge). Ships >20m length maintain a listening watch on this channel in US waters.|
|14||156.700||156.700||Port Operations. VTS in selected areas.|
|15||--||156.750||Environmental (Receive only). Used by Class C EPIRBs.|
|16||156.800||156.800||International Distress, Safety and Calling. Ships required to carry radio, USCG, and most coast stations maintain a listening watch on this channel.|
|20||157.000||161.600||Port Operations (duplex)|
|21A||157.050||157.050||U.S. Coast Guard only|
|22A||157.100||157.100||Coast Guard Liaison and Maritime Safety Information Broadcasts. Broadcasts announced on channel 16.|
|23A||157.150||157.150||U.S. Coast Guard only|
|24||157.200||161.800||Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)|
|25||157.250||161.850||Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)|
|26||157.300||161.900||Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)|
|27||157.350||161.950||Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)|
|28||157.400||162.000||Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)|
|63A||156.175||156.175||Port Operations and Commercial, VTS. Available only in New Orleans / Lower Mississippi area.|
|67||156.375||156.375||Commercial. Used for Bridge-to-bridge communications in lower Mississippi River. Intership only.|
|70||156.525||156.525||Digital Selective Calling (voice communications not allowed)|
|72||156.625||156.625||Non-Commercial (Intership only)|
|77||156.875||156.875||Port Operations (Intership only)|
|79A||156.975||156.975||Commercial. Non-Commercial in Great Lakes only|
|80A||157.025||157.025||Commercial. Non-Commercial in Great Lakes only|
|81A||157.075||157.075||U.S. Government only - Environmental protection operations.|
|82A||157.125||157.125||U.S. Government only|
|83A||157.175||157.175||U.S. Coast Guard only|
|84||157.225||161.825||Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)|
|85||157.275||161.875||Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)|
|86||157.325||161.925||Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)|
|87A||157.375||157.375||Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)|
|88A||157.425||157.425||Commercial, Intership only.|
|AIS 1||161.975||161.975||Automatic Identification System (AIS)|
|AIS 2||162.025||162.025||Automatic Identification System (AIS)|
NOAA Weather Radio Frequencies
See the NOAA Weather Radio Homepage for more information.
Additional Information, Frequencies, & Charts
Frequencies are in MHz. Modulation is 16KF3E or 16KG3E.
Note that the letter "A" indicates simplex use of the ship station transmit side of an international duplex channel, and that operations are different than international operations on that channel. Some VHF transceivers are equipped with an "International - U.S." switch for that purpose. "A" channels are generally only used in the United States, and use is normally not recognized or allowed outside the U.S. The letter "B" indicates simplex use of the coast station transmit side of an international duplex channel. The U.S. does not currently use "B" channels for simplex communications in this band.
Boaters should normally use channels listed as Non-Commercial. Channel 16 is used for calling other stations or for distress alerting. Channel 13 should be used to contact a ship when there is danger of collision. All ships of length 20m or greater are required to guard VHF channel 13, in addition to VHF channel 16, when operating within U.S. territorial waters. Users may be fined by the FCC for improper use of these channels.
See the Federal Communications Commission's Marine VHF Radio Channels page. The FCC page does not include frequency information, but has more complete information on the use of the channels. If you notice any discrepancy between these two lists, please notify us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also available are International VHF Maritime Radio Channels and Frequencies, Narrowband VHF Maritime Channels and Frequencies, Radio Information for Boaters , and U.S. Coast Guard VHF Distress and Safety Coverage Charts
Please visit the USCG Navigation Center website for more information directly from the authority in marine band radio usage.