1. The ITU World Radio Communication Conferences in 2012, 2015 and 2019 made extensive changes to appendix 18 of the Radio Regulation (RR). While these changes do not affect the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), they do affect the use of other frequencies used for VHF meteorological, navigational and urgent marine information broadcasts, port operations and Vessel Traffic Service (VTS).
2. According to the Performance standards for shipborne VHF radio installations capable of voice communication and digital selective calling (Resolution MSC. 511 (105)), VHF radio communication equipment should comply with the Radio Regulations.
3. Further, IMO Circular, MSC.1/Circ. 1389 on ‘Guidance on procedures for updating shipborne navigation and communication equipment’ provides that application software and firmware of navigation and radio communication equipment be kept updated to meet changes in IMO and ITU regulatory requirements.
4. In this regard, the International Maritime Organization has issued circular MSC.1/Circ.1460 (Rev.4) on ‘Guidance on the validity of radio communication equipment installed and used on ships’ providing that:
“To ensure GMDSS communication capability and the availability of appropriate GMDSS radio communication equipment, and without prejudice to the arrangements contained in appendix 18 of the RR, VHF radio communication equipment should be updated so that following the first radio survey after 1 January 2028, at the earliest, it meets the arrangements which will be in force by then”.
5. Ship Owners and managers are advised to take note of above and accordingly liaise with the VHF radio communication equipment manufacturer to arrange for timely up gradation of the equipment on their ships.
6. While existing VHF radios will continue to work for safety, distress, and ship to ship communications, however, many PSC authorities and Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) may change over to the new VHF frequency before 01 January 2028 for communicating with ships and other vessels within their regions.
7. Accordingly, to ensure proper communications with PSC authorities and/or communications with VTS, prior to any passage, the Radio Operator / Masters are advised to review radio channel / frequency requirements for the vessel’s area of operation, ensuring the radio communication equipment has the required capability.
8. This Technical Circular supersedes and revokes earlier Technical Circular No. 017/2022, dated 09 March 2022.
This Technical Circular and the material contained in it is provided only for the purpose of supplying current information to the reader and not as an advice to be relied upon by any person. While we have taken utmost care to be as factual as possible, readers/ users are advised to verify the exact text and content of the Regulation from the original source/ issuing Authority.