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Marine Communications

Marine VHF

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.
06 156.300 156.300 Intership Safety
07A 156.350 156.350 Commercial
08 156.400 156.400 Commercial (Intership only)
09 156.450 156.450 Boater Calling.  Commercial and Non-Commercial.
10 156.500 156.500 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.
17 156.850 156.850 State Control
18A 156.900 156.900 Commercial
19A 156.950 156.950 Commercial
20 157.000 161.600 Port Operations (duplex)
20A 157.000 157.000 Port Operations
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.
65A 156.275 156.275 Port Operations
66A 156.325 156.325 Port Operations
67 156.375 156.375 Commercial.  Used for Bridge-to-bridge communications in lower Mississippi River.  Intership only.
68 156.425 156.425 Non-Commercial
69 156.475  156.475 Non-Commercial
70 156.525 156.525 Digital Selective Calling (voice communications not allowed)
71 156.575 156.575  Non-Commercial
72 156.625 156.625 Non-Commercial (Intership only)
73 156.675 156.675 Port Operations
74 156.725 156.725 Port Operations
77 156.875 156.875 Port Operations (Intership only)
78A 156.925 156.925 Non-Commercial
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)

VHF Maritime Spectrum Chart

NOAA Weather Radio Frequencies

Channel Frequency (MHz)















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

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.