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Old 22-04-2014, 11:35   #151
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

Dave,
I freely admit to not keeping up-to-date on all things GMDSS, nor any/all ITU and/or EU changes to their requirements, and especially any European radio acceptance specifics....
So, please feel free to correct any of my inaccuracies...


1) My reading of the rules (and the real-world practicalities) is different than yours....
Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
Compulsory fit vessels operating in sea area A2& A3 do not have to carry MF/HF DSC. They can comply by using Inmarsat A/B/M or C Sat systems. Many sea going vessels no longer fit or listen to HF. It's my experience that's its impossible to raise large vessels by MF for example.
It was my understanding (from the ITU / GMDSS rules) that all SOLAS vessels, transiting Sea Areas A2, in addition to their other requirements, maintain a DSC radio watch on 2187.5khz....

And all SOLAS vessels transiting Seas Areas A3 and/or A4, maintain a DSC radio watch on 8414.5khz, 2187.5khz, and "one other HF-DSC frequency, determined by the vessel's route, time-of-day, etc." (as best as I can recall the regulation)....even if fulfilling their GMDSS requirements for communications via INMARSAT, they still must maintain this DSC radio watch. Expressly to provide both a vital relay to shore if needed, AND to provide assistance to vessels directly....

I believe these are still the current regulations??? (please correct me if I am wrong here...)

And, I have had excellent results raising vessels (SOLAS vessels) with HF-DSC....(although I admit that it's been 10 years since I tried on MF/2187.5khz....my recent experiences using 8414.5khz have been perfect, and I've even raised a vessel on 12.290mhz, after receiving their DSC message on 12577....)
Perhaps what I've been saying for a while is ringing true, that things over here (and in Aus, NZ, etc.) are much more HF-based than the old (and unused??) MF systems in Europe???




2) Also, I understand the UK and EU interpretations of the GMDSS are VERY shore-side centric, but in other parts of the world, direct contact between vessels is also encouraged, and IS part of the ITU / GMDSS system, even if it is not taught as "the right way" by UK / EU authorities, in addition to the shoreside contact, it IS an accepted way to utilize the GMDSS, and it is taught that way here in the US, Canada, (and perhaps in AUS and NZ as well??)
Just so there is no misunderstanding, I understand and agree that getting a distress message to the appropriate MRCC (on-shore) is the primary goal of the GMDSS....and I would never discourage that (nor would I ever discourage the use of an EPIRB as a primary means of accomplishing that....as a properly registered EPIRB is the primary means that cruising sailors have to alert a distress)....
But, in addition to alerting your MRCC of your distress (whether via EPIRB, MF/HF-DSC, INMARSAT-C, etc.), HF-DSC can alert other vessels in your area (SOLAS vessels), AND can provide a second distress message / confirmation of an EPIRB alert, to your MRCC...




3) Further, since most vessels equipped to maintain an MF-DSC and/or MF/HF-DSC radio watch, typically have a scanning MF/HF-DSC Watch Receiver as part of their GMDSS consoles.....or a Class A or Class B MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephone, that would also be scanning the all six MF/HF-GMDSS-DSC freqs, or at least 2187.5khz, 8414.5khz, and "one other HF-DSC frequency", so even if just by virtue of the equipment, even if these vessels are not fully GMDSS-compliant for Sea Areas A3 or A4 (or if the fulfilled their A3 requirement with INMARSAT terminals), they would STILL have their DSC watch receiver and/or their "Sea Area A2 SSB-DSC radiotelephone" (which would actually be a MF/HF radiotelephone, as that is what is manufactured) to make MF-DSC contact with other vessels with, as well as make MF/HF Voice contact with other vessels with, and very possibly even make HF-DSC contact with (even if not fully GMDSS-compliant using HF)...



4) Maybe I'm being to detail-oriented....sorry about that...
But, my point is....
a) Even if there no regulation for a SOLAS vessel in Sea Area A2 to maintain an MF/HF-DSC radio watch other than on 2187.5khz, their DSC-watch receiver and/or their MF/HF-DSC radiotelephone, is actually scanning and receiving DSC signals from at least 2187.5, 8414.5, and "one other HF-DSC freq", and most likely all six MF/HF-DSC freqs...

b) Even if a SOLAS vessel fulfills their GMDSS Sea Area A3 requirements with INMARSAT terminals (rather than a GMDSS-compliant HF system), they still must maintain a DSC radio watch on at least 2187.5, 8414.5, and "one other HF-DSC freq" (whether using a DSC watch receiver, or an MF/HF-DSC radiotelephone)....

If I recall correctly (it's been >5 years since I've read the regs), these requirements were expressly written into the GMDSS in order to provide both a vital relay to shore if needed, AND to provide assistance to vessels directly....
(perhaps this requirement is no longer taught in the GMDSS classes, or maybe it is just overlooked.....but that is how I read the rules a few years ago...)




5) I understand that non-SOLAS vessels are not required to fit MF/HF-DSC equipment....and from what you write, it appears that since currently there is no AFFORDABLE EU-approved MF/HF-DSC-SSB radiotelephone...
So, this does present a problem for EU (and UK??) vessels...
Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
While all radio equipment in europe and the UK for sale Is now required to have DSC functionality, there is no requirement for non SOLAS Vessels to fit DSC equipment. The m801E is currently not approved under the latest ETSI regulations and at present there is no approved medium cost MF HF DSC set available for sale in Europe.
But, in a distress I'm more interested in signaling shore and SOLAS vessels in my area.....






6) Here we may just need to politely "agree to disagree"....
And again, I'm not anti-satphone....but I just cannot see anyone recommending a handheld satphone over an EPIRB!!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
I agree with all you say re HF DSC and GMDSS. And NGOs etc are not gong to reccomend ordinary sat phones in the face of GMDSS requirements, that understandable. But equally, a modern sat phone is a more then an adequate distress alerting system as well. ( as RH clearly showed )
And, in my opinion, in addition to alerting my MRCC (USCG) via an EPIRB and via HF-DSC, I'd still rather be able to alert/contact other vessels in my area (via MF/HF-DSC), and talk directly to them AND the RCC (via HF-SSB), rather than trying to call them on the phone (using a handheld satphone) and relay my position, and nature of call, all-the-while dealing with the stress of the Distress itself....
Again, this is my opinion.....but an experienced and learned one....not just regurgitating what a read in some magazine last year...

So, in my opinion, in a Distress situation:
While it is always a good plan to use everything at your disposal to alert appropriate authorities (your MRCC) of your distress....when offshore, beyond VHF range of shore and other vessels (Sea Areas A2, A3, and A4), here is my overall plan...
a) Alert my MRCC, yes....via GPS-enabled and properly-registered EPIRB..
b) Provide a secondary/confirmation alert, yes...via HF-DSC...
c) Alert any/all SOLAS vessels in my area, yes....via HF-DSC...
d) Speak directly with both the RCC and other vessels in my area, yes...via HF-SSB radiotelephone....

Now, I fully understand that I cannot bring my HF-DSC-SSB radiotelephone and big batteries into a liferaft with me!!!
So, I'd be relying on both all of the above sending out my distress before my vessel loses power and/or sinks, AND on my EPIRB continuing to transmit my distress message...and of course, my handheld VHF's in my raft/ditch bag when vessels / rescuers are close...
(Yes, an Iridium handheld phone here would be of help....and I do understand those that equip their vessels / ditch bags with an Iridium satphone....even if I have not done so, I do believe it is a good idea...)




7) Finally, even though nobody actually disagreed with directly, I'd like to reiterate what I wrote earlier....
I stand behind my original words from yesterday....
A handheld satphone is NOT a substitute for an EPIRB!!!

(And, in my opinion, is not a substitute for an MF/HF-DSC-SSB radiotelephone...)



Okay, I think this might just be enough of my ramblings for today....

Fair winds to 'ya all...

John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 22-04-2014, 11:56   #152
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GMDSS Videos???

Dave,
Here we can agree 100%!!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
I think we can overthink these issues, compulsory fit ships are bound by a set of rules, and such rules arnt always sensible or may pre-date certain technologies.
Sorry about all my ramblings...



And, in that vein, I posted a video on GMDSS to my Youtube channel recently that I'd like opinions on....
I'm not going to post a direct link here, as it is an OLD video (from 1992) and has some outdated an erroneous info (which I point out in the video description),but it is one of the only "NON-TECHNICAL" GMDSS explanation videos I've found (I find GMDSS training videos, etc.) but no other videos explaining the GMDSS to the average sailor / layperson...

So, if anyone would care to have a look, please tell me what you think....
(be honest....'cause it is NOT my video, so no harm...)

Go here...
captainjohn49 - YouTube

And, click on the "GMDSS Explanation Video (from 1992), with a few errors"

Thanks!!!

John
s/v Annie Laurie



P.S.

That old video might just be the basis of a new series of videos that I might make....that will expand on these....






Thanks!!

John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 22-04-2014, 12:24   #153
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

When I was buying and outfitting my first cruising boat, I outfitted based on reading LOTS of threads on this forum. I suppose people still do that.

Based on that reading- starting six or seven years ago- I went the HF radio route. After a couple of years, I sold the radio and bought a sat phone and EPIRB. I've NEVER regretted that.

Now the Globalsat texting devices are available.

And I think the reality of most cruising nowadays is that most of your time will be spent within range of a cell phone tower. So an unlocked GSM cell phone or tablet will give you affordable, reliable communications in many, if not most parts of the world. (Of course, you also need a VHF radio.)

I don't think new cruisers should add HF radio to their boats at first. It's expensive and very time-consuming. If they later want to add HF radio (it IS fun and handy), then fine. But there's no sense putting all that time and money into it up front. There are just much more important things for them to be spending their time and money on.
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Old 22-04-2014, 15:14   #154
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Dave,
I freely admit to not keeping up-to-date on all things GMDSS, nor any/all ITU and/or EU changes to their requirements, and especially any European radio acceptance specifics....
So, please feel free to correct any of my inaccuracies...


1) My reading of the rules (and the real-world practicalities) is different than yours.... It was my understanding (from the ITU / GMDSS rules) that all SOLAS vessels, transiting Sea Areas A2, in addition to their other requirements, maintain a DSC radio watch on 2187.5khz....

And all SOLAS vessels transiting Seas Areas A3 and/or A4, maintain a DSC radio watch on 8414.5khz, 2187.5khz, and "one other HF-DSC frequency, determined by the vessel's route, time-of-day, etc." (as best as I can recall the regulation)....even if fulfilling their GMDSS requirements for communications via INMARSAT, they still must maintain this DSC radio watch. Expressly to provide both a vital relay to shore if needed, AND to provide assistance to vessels directly....

I believe these are still the current regulations??? (please correct me if I am wrong here...)

And, I have had excellent results raising vessels (SOLAS vessels) with HF-DSC....(although I admit that it's been 10 years since I tried on MF/2187.5khz....my recent experiences using 8414.5khz have been perfect, and I've even raised a vessel on 12.290mhz, after receiving their DSC message on 12577....)
Perhaps what I've been saying for a while is ringing true, that things over here (and in Aus, NZ, etc.) are much more HF-based than the old (and unused??) MF systems in Europe???
.........
7) Finally, even though nobody actually disagreed with directly, I'd like to reiterate what I wrote earlier....
I stand behind my original words from yesterday....
A handheld satphone is NOT a substitute for an EPIRB!!!

(And, in my opinion, is not a substitute for an MF/HF-DSC-SSB radiotelephone...)

Okay, I think this might just be enough of my ramblings for today....

Fair winds to 'ya all...

John
s/v Annie Laurie
Hi John,

I think your comments make perfect sense. A difference over this side is that MRCC Australia's advice about using EPIRBs says:

1. Use the radio first to make contact and organise a response to an emergency. Only turn on the EPIRB if they tell you to, or if you cannot make contact by other methods. (I think this is because they do not want the battery to go flat before an assigned official response vessel arrives.)

2. Make contact by radio with nearby vessels as the most likely source of quick assistance.

3. "Be prepared to survive" while waiting for their official response to arrive if you are in an isolated or distance part of there S&R responsibility area (over 10% of the earth's surface.).

See their EPIRB website information at: AMSA Beacons Information

Linking your comments with this information, I think that on this side of the world - the Pacific and Indian Oceans, around Australia and in SE Asia - the DSC capable HF/SSB radio takes on even greater significance for cruising, race or rally yachts. Yachts can create their own reciprocal self-help groups when crossing oceans or exploring coasts and archipelagos (eg: Indonesia) by

1. Creating functional groups of yachts travelling a similar route or exploring a similar region at the same time.

2. Making changes to the General DSC scan frequencies pre-programmed into ICOM's M802 and 801 radios. The standard settings are based on a shore station orientation, but the reality is these are not the principle source of regular advice, information or nearby assistance. This adaptation - which I learnt is co-incidentally advised/practiced by both Terry Sparks (Made Simple for Cruisers) in the USA and Bob Smith(Yachtcom) in the UK - extends the range of vessel-to-vessel DSC calling. See these links:

http://www.made-simplefor-cruisers.c...20Cruisers.pdf AND

http://www.made-simplefor-cruisers.c...requencies.pdf

3. Arrange for all yachts in the support group to maintain a 24/7 (silent) DSC watch on their radios, whether in an anchorage, day hopping or on ocean passages.

4. Set up a unique DSC group-call MMSI ID for the group. (The ICOM radios can hold many different IDs). Here is the information from Terry Sparks:

“With all the boats maintaining a DSC watch, this would allow the group members to immediately contact all others in a less than distress mode. I use this in Mexico with friends, but it also seems perfect for racers and rallies.

If you have not set up a group before, everyone just needs to create a group with the same MMSI number. The number must be unique and the easiest way to establish one is to take a real MMSI number, put a zero in front and move the other numbers right one place. e.g. My MMSI is 366820740. The group I use in Mexico is 036682074.”

These techniques will help address the realities of S&R support services on this side, by creating convenient and immediate communication between short or long-term functional support groups of yachts.

It also makes it much easier to follow MRCC Australia's advice to first make contact with nearby vessels in an emergency.

Cruising yacht crews have a lot of knowledge and resourcefullness. They can help each other with timely information, parts or a tow, that can make cruising more relaxed and prevent a problem becoming an incident that involves rescuing people.

I hope this is helpful.

Allan
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Old 22-04-2014, 15:25   #155
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

WOW, lovely meaty post , my favourite


Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Dave,
I freely admit to not keeping up-to-date on all things GMDSS, nor any/all ITU and/or EU changes to their requirements, and especially any European radio acceptance specifics....
So, please feel free to correct any of my inaccuracies...


1) My reading of the rules (and the real-world practicalities) is different than yours.... It was my understanding (from the ITU / GMDSS rules) that all SOLAS vessels, transiting Sea Areas A2, in addition to their other requirements, maintain a DSC radio watch on 2187.5khz....

And all SOLAS vessels transiting Seas Areas A3 and/or A4, maintain a DSC radio watch on 8414.5khz, 2187.5khz, and "one other HF-DSC frequency, determined by the vessel's route, time-of-day, etc." (as best as I can recall the regulation)....even if fulfilling their GMDSS requirements for communications via INMARSAT, they still must maintain this DSC radio watch. Expressly to provide both a vital relay to shore if needed, AND to provide assistance to vessels directly....

I believe these are still the current regulations??? (please correct me if I am wrong here…)
My understanding is that all ships must maintain a MF watch ( and only MF) plus either inmarsat C or an Inmarsat Ships stations , i.e. Inmarsat fullfills the role of DSC HF

In a lot of ships stations MF and HF are not the same set. Given the falloff in MF usage, this is going the same way as HF.

Most ocean going ships these days often fit Inmarsat Ships station equipment to keep in touch with company base and provide email etc. This setup also fulfills the sea area A2/A3 requirement



Quote:
And, I have had excellent results raising vessels (SOLAS vessels) with HF-DSC....(although I admit that it's been 10 years since I tried on MF/2187.5khz....my recent experiences using 8414.5khz have been perfect, and I've even raised a vessel on 12.290mhz, after receiving their DSC message on 12577....)
Perhaps what I've been saying for a while is ringing true, that things over here (and in Aus, NZ, etc.) are much more HF-based than the old (and unused??) MF systems in Europe???
My expertise is limed to the home continent !!. but certainly being on the bridges of ships , i see increasing reliance on sat comms.



Quote:
2) Also, I understand the UK and EU interpretations of the GMDSS are VERY shore-side centric, but in other parts of the world, direct contact between vessels is also encouraged, and IS part of the ITU / GMDSS system, even if it is not taught as "the right way" by UK / EU authorities, in addition to the shoreside contact, it IS an accepted way to utilize the GMDSS, and it is taught that way here in the US, Canada, (and perhaps in AUS and NZ as well??)
Just so there is no misunderstanding, I understand and agree that getting a distress message to the appropriate MRCC (on-shore) is the primary goal of the GMDSS....and I would never discourage that (nor would I ever discourage the use of an EPIRB as a primary means of accomplishing that....as a properly registered EPIRB is the primary means that cruising sailors have to alert a distress)....
Well heres some pieces from GMDSS information by Dunstan and Associates

"The GMDSS regulations (chapter IV of the International SOLAS Convention), require that every GMDSS equipped ship shall be capable of;

1. transmitting ship-to-shore Distress Alerts by at least two separate and independent means, each using a different radio communication service;

2. receiving shore-to-ship Distress Alerts;

3. transmitting and receiving ship-to-ship Distress Alerts;

4. transmitting and receiving search and rescue co-ordinating communications;

5. transmitting and receiving on-scene communications;

6. transmitting and receiving locating signals;

7. receiving maritime safety information;

8. transmitting and receiving general radiocommunications relating to the management and operation of the vessel; and

9. transmitting and receiving bridge-to-bridge communications."


and

"The GMDSS enables a ship in distress to send an alert using various radio systems. These systems are designed such that the alert has a very high probability of being received by either shore rescue authorities and/or other vessels in the area."


This is exactly the same principles as European GMDSS. I believe there is only one interpretation of the GMDSS convention.. The key is that the equipment selection is designed to reach the shore based rescue co-ordination centre not immediate ships in the area. The whole point is that the ships in the immediate area may not be the best assets to deploy. Ships which detect the presence of a DSC alert are required to RELAY this to the shore and then await instructions from the appropriate MRCC.

In australias case the difference being there is no sea are A1/A2 so all SOLAS ships require the full A3 setup.


Quote:
But, in addition to alerting your MRCC of your distress (whether via EPIRB, MF/HF-DSC, INMARSAT-C, etc.), HF-DSC can alert other vessels in your area (SOLAS vessels), AND can provide a second distress message / confirmation of an EPIRB alert, to your MRCC...
There is no "second" distress message. The primary purpose of the carriage requirements is to ensure that there is an extremely good chance that your distress alert will reach the shore.

Any vessel that detects the alert , is expected to wait the designated wait time before issueing a DSC acknowledge and then should issues a voice MAYDAY RELAY to the MRCC, the primary purpose of which is to reach the MRCC, not necessary to act to intervene in the rescue.




Quote:
3) Further, since most vessels equipped to maintain an MF-DSC and/or MF/HF-DSC radio watch, typically have a scanning MF/HF-DSC Watch Receiver as part of their GMDSS consoles.....or a Class A or Class B MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephone, that would also be scanning the all six MF/HF-GMDSS-DSC freqs, or at least 2187.5khz, 8414.5khz, and "one other HF-DSC frequency", so even if just by virtue of the equipment, even if these vessels are not fully GMDSS-compliant for Sea Areas A3 or A4 (or if the fulfilled their A3 requirement with INMARSAT terminals), they would STILL have their DSC watch receiver and/or their "Sea Area A2 SSB-DSC radiotelephone" (which would actually be a MF/HF radiotelephone, as that is what is manufactured) to make MF-DSC contact with other vessels with, as well as make MF/HF Voice contact with other vessels with, and very possibly even make HF-DSC contact with (even if not fully GMDSS-compliant using HF)...
so many TLA's my eyes glazed over. Yes, in practice many MF sets are MF/HF DSC sets, but my experience is that Inmarsat is the primary method of contact with MRCC. so in relation to your paragraph, Yes and No is my answer.



Quote:
4) Maybe I'm being to detail-oriented....sorry about that...
But, my point is....
a) Even if there no regulation for a SOLAS vessel in Sea Area A2 to maintain an MF/HF-DSC radio watch other than on 2187.5khz, their DSC-watch receiver and/or their MF/HF-DSC radiotelephone, is actually scanning and receiving DSC signals from at least 2187.5, 8414.5, and "one other HF-DSC freq", and most likely all six MF/HF-DSC freqs...
possibly yes ( and no) , they may or may not be scanning HF at all.

Quote:
b) Even if a SOLAS vessel fulfills their GMDSS Sea Area A3 requirements with INMARSAT terminals (rather than a GMDSS-compliant HF system), they still must maintain a DSC radio watch on at least 2187.5, 8414.5, and "one other HF-DSC freq" (whether using a DSC watch receiver, or an MF/HF-DSC radiotelephone)....
No , My understanding is that the carriage requirements can be met by MF and inmarsat ship station, hence with this setup there is no specific requirement to scan anything other then MF

Quote:
If I recall correctly (it's been >5 years since I've read the regs), these requirements were expressly written into the GMDSS in order to provide both a vital relay to shore if needed, AND to provide assistance to vessels directly....
(perhaps this requirement is no longer taught in the GMDSS classes, or maybe it is just overlooked.....but that is how I read the rules a few years ago...)
Yes this is the purpose of MF DSC. exactly as you state, i.e. vessels operating in A2, which cannot reach a MF shore station, can then be relayed by a MF vessel that may be in reach.

However the original idea of HF relays was essentially abandoned as DSC HF relays were causing MRCC all over the world to receive DSC alerts that were clearly not for them and then this caused major issues in who issued the HF DSC Alert acknowledge.

the IMO essentially then removed HF relaying. How the point of the carriage equipment is a ship can receive a distress alert on MF, and relay it as a DIRECT CALL either by DSC HF or Inmarsat call to the MRCC.

Under GMDSS unless the ship believes that no co-ordination is forthcoming, it can therefore intervene directly, but in almost every case Im aware, ships always notify an MRCC if they are as siting in a rescue. the MRCC then will either agree or divert another vessel. No ship owner will send a vessel 100s of miles to then find there is a ship or other rescue asset closer.

The key difference from the 1911 SOLAS convention and GMDSS, is that rescue are co-ordinated ( i.e. controlled) by shore based MRCCs and each subscribing nation agreed to set up an MRCC ( and RCCs) , ships do not therefore act outside this structure unless they have formed a reasonable opinion that no comms to an MRCC is possible.



Quote:
5) I understand that non-SOLAS vessels are not required to fit MF/HF-DSC equipment....and from what you write, it appears that since currently there is no AFFORDABLE EU-approved MF/HF-DSC-SSB radiotelephone...
So, this does present a problem for EU (and UK??) vessels... But, in a distress I'm more interested in signaling shore and SOLAS vessels in my area.....
Yes there is an issue with GMDSS units for leisure vessels in the EU. However since no one gives a damm, we all fit 802s anyway !.

But I would fundamentally disagree with your second point. The KEY point is that leisure should ensure that they can reach a SHORE station , i.e. using EPIRB, sat-phone, HF-DSC , InReach, long length of string. Thats way they can be assured that the appropriate rescue assets are deployed.

Take the RH case, cause they were in voice contact directly by sat phone to the shore authorities, a very serious high scale in flight refuelled chopper run was ordered up.

Had that simply been a HF DSC alert that a say cargo ship picked up and steamed 4 days to them , would that have been much use !!

Hence for me, reaching the shore BY WHATEVER MEANS possible is the key, not a "angels on a pin" debate about HF versus sat phone.




Quote:
6) Here we may just need to politely "agree to disagree"....
And again, I'm not anti-satphone....but I just cannot see anyone recommending a handheld satphone over an EPIRB!!!
I agree, I would say an EPIRB should be the primary method of distress alerting for cruisers. After that however I would argue that sat-phones offer more all round utility.


Quote:
And, in my opinion, in addition to alerting my MRCC (USCG) via an EPIRB and via HF-DSC, I'd still rather be able to alert/contact other vessels in my area (via MF/HF-DSC), and talk directly to them AND the RCC (via HF-SSB), rather than trying to call them on the phone (using a handheld satphone) and relay my position, and nature of call, all-the-while dealing with the stress of the Distress itself....
Again, this is my opinion.....but an experienced and learned one....not just regurgitating what a read in some magazine last year...
I see no point in attempting to co-ordinate my own rescue , when a worldwide system of such professional MRCCs exists. whats the point of talking to several ships possibly 100s of miles away. ALert the MRCC, then standby on VHF for localised rescued contact.

Quote:
So, in my opinion, in a Distress situation:
While it is always a good plan to use everything at your disposal to alert appropriate authorities (your MRCC) of your distress....when offshore, beyond VHF range of shore and other vessels (Sea Areas A2, A3, and A4), here is my overall plan...
a) Alert my MRCC, yes....via GPS-enabled and properly-registered EPIRB..
b) Provide a secondary/confirmation alert, yes...via HF-DSC...
c) Alert any/all SOLAS vessels in my area, yes....via HF-DSC...
d) Speak directly with both the RCC and other vessels in my area, yes...via HF-SSB radiotelephone....
I agree, in a distress, throw everything you have at it.

But the key is to alert the MRCC. That way a proper rescue effort can be undertaken, and this doesnt rely on an individual ship ( remember the titanic)

so (a) Yes, (b) if fitted yes , or by any means , i.e. sat-phone, (c ) nice to do , but unnecessary , the MRCC is doing that and actually he has the authority not you!. (d) again I see little point in speaking "over the horizon" top random ships that may not even be tasked by the MRCC.


…. removed for clarity…...


Quote:
7) Finally, even though nobody actually disagreed with directly, I'd like to reiterate what I wrote earlier....
I stand behind my original words from yesterday....
A handheld satphone is NOT a substitute for an EPIRB!!!
I fully agree

Quote:
(And, in my opinion, is not a substitute for an MF/HF-DSC-SSB radiotelephone...)
I do not agree, any secondary method that reaches the shore is sufficient backup for a leisure vessel.


great meaty detailed post John


dave
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Old 29-04-2014, 19:19   #156
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

Dave, et al,
Sorry it took me a week to reply back...I've tied up on-shore, with family matters..


1) First off, I think we are on the same page....
With a few minor differences in experiences, I think we're saying pretty much the same things...




2) See the minor differences here in red.....
Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
My understanding is that all ships must maintain a MF watch ( and only MF) plus either inmarsat C or an Inmarsat Ships stations , i.e. Inmarsat fullfills the role of DSC HF
I think there are some poorly written sections of the GMDSS rules, as part of them say one thing, and another part says something else...
But in any case, we need to look over the rules in their entirety, and if we do that things start to make sense.... sort-of

My reading of the rules is that (for Sea Areas A3 and of course A4 as well) all SOLAS vessels must maintain a DSC-watch on 2187.5, 8414.5, and "one other HF-DSC frequency"....
If they are fulfilling their GMDSS Sea Area A3 ship-to-shore / shore-to-ship communications requirements via INMARSAT-C, this does not absolve them of the requirement for maintaining a DSC Radio Watch on 2187.5, 8414.5, and "one other HF-DSC frequency"....(nor does it absolve these SOLAS vessels transiting Sea Area A3, from their ship-to-ship communications requirements, both DSC and Voice, and both Distress and Routine...)

According to my reading of the GMDSS rules (and confirmed to me personally by a USCG communications officer), that although equipping with INMARSAT, might seem on the surface to "technically" absolve them of their HF-DSC requirements, it does NOT absolve them from the DSC-watchkeeping requirements (2187.5, 8414.5, and 'one other..." (nor from their other ship-to-ship communications requirements, both DSC and Voice)



But regardless of whether I'm correct here or not....it has been my experience that most SOLAS vessels transiting Sea Area A3, DO have an HF DSC-Scanning Watch receiver as part of their GMDSS system...whether built-in to their MF/HF-Radiotelephone, or a separate DSC-Watch receiver....
This may NOT be the case for coastal-voyaging / Sea Area A2 vessels that ply the UK/EU waters, but the ones around here and transiting Sea Area A3, DO have these....




In a lot of ships stations MF and HF are not the same set. Given the falloff in MF usage, this is going the same way as HF.
This may be the case for coastal-voyaging / Sea Area A2 vessels that ply the UK/EU waters, as they may have fitted MF-DSC Radiotelephones to be Sea Area A2 GMDSS compliant, but the SOLAS vessels around here and transiting Sea Area A3, usually have MF/HF-DSC Radiotelephones (and many have full GMDSS consoles, w/ DSC-watch receivers and redundant radios, in addition to INMARSAT-C)....


Most ocean going ships these days often fit Inmarsat Ships station equipment to keep in touch with company base and provide email etc.
Yes, this is true.....


This setup also fulfills the sea area A2/A3 requirement
While INMARSAT might fulfill their GMDSS ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship communications requirement for Sea Area A3, it does NOT absolve the vessel from their DSC-Radio Watchkeeping requirements (2187.5, 8414.5, and "one other HF-DSC frequency"), nor does it fulfill its ship-to-ship communications requirements (DSC and Voice)....







My expertise is limed to the home continent !!. but certainly being on the bridges of ships , i see increasing reliance on sat comms.
Yes, increase use of sat comm...





"The GMDSS regulations (chapter IV of the International SOLAS Convention), require that every GMDSS equipped ship shall be capable of;

1. transmitting ship-to-shore Distress Alerts by at least two separate and independent means, each using a different radio communication service;

2. receiving shore-to-ship Distress Alerts;

3. transmitting and receiving ship-to-ship Distress Alerts;

4. transmitting and receiving search and rescue co-ordinating communications;

5. transmitting and receiving on-scene communications;

6. transmitting and receiving locating signals;

7. receiving maritime safety information;

8. transmitting and receiving general radiocommunications relating to the management and operation of the vessel; and

9. transmitting and receiving bridge-to-bridge communications."


and

"The GMDSS enables a ship in distress to send an alert using various radio systems. These systems are designed such that the alert has a very high probability of being received by either shore rescue authorities and/or other vessels in the area."


This is exactly the same principles as European GMDSS. I believe there is only one interpretation of the GMDSS convention.. The key is that the equipment selection is designed to reach the shore based rescue co-ordination centre not immediate ships in the area.
Yes, these GMDSS principles are the same, worldwide....

But, here is where we disagree, a bit....(and I suspect that is because of the different priorities emphasized by US-based GMDSS courses and USCG, versus UK/EU-based GMDSS classes and European coast guards???)
While one of the results the GMDSS was designed to achieve IS to get a Distress message to the shore-based rescue coordination center, another designed result is to have these Distress messages delivered to other vessels in the area, as well...just as you wrote/quoted above!!!
(see my Bold-Type emphasis, that I added to your words/quotes above)

3. transmitting and receiving ship-to-ship Distress Alerts;

"The GMDSS enables a ship in distress to send an alert using various radio systems. These systems are designed such that the alert has a very high probability of being received by either shore rescue authorities and/or other vessels in the area."


{ I stand firmly behind my words above...
However here is just my opinion (and I may be wrong), but I suspect that the lack of recognizing and/or teaching one of the GMDSS principles IS to make sure "the alert has a very high probability of being received by either shore rescue authorities and/or other vessels in the area",is because of BOTH their physical ability to respond directly to these alerts in their Sea Areas A1 and A2...and the hi-quality of their maritime coast guards / SAR assets....(and possibly even a "cultural difference", giving "government" and "authorities" deference...)
This is contrast with other areas of the world, where coast guards are unreliable (or non-existent) and even the RCC's in some countries (Indonesia, etc.) are almost unwilling/unable to respond to any alert at all, even at the insistence of the USCG or UK Coast Guard...
As well as, doesn't take into account the vast areas to be covered where coastal assets are few....(such as the large areas that the US, Aus NZ, etc. have responsibility for)

Again, I could be wrong here, but I suspect that the greater emphasis that the UK/EU GMDSS classes place on the DSC-Distress going directly to shore, rather than explaining the fact that the GMDSS is also designed so that these DSC-Distress messages go directly to all other vessels in your area, as well as to shore stations, is due to both a cultural and physical difference.... }




The whole point is that the ships in the immediate area may not be the best assets to deploy.
Yes, this is correct...(but those in Distress will take a poor rescue asset rather than no rescue at all...)

Ships which detect the presence of a DSC alert are required to RELAY this to the shore and then await instructions from the appropriate MRCC.
Here we completely disagree....(this was not what I was taught)

My detailed reading of the GMDSS rules (and confirmed personally with USCG communications officers at CAMSLANT), are that vessels receiving a DSC distress must attempt to relay this distress alert to an appropriate RCC, and monitor the prescribed traffic frequency (as well as the DSC frequency) for 3 minutes, to ascertain whether a shore-station has responded, and then attempt to raise the vessel on the prescribed traffic frequency.
If no shore station has responded, the receiving vessel can respond (ACK) to the DSC-Distress call directly, as well as further attempt to contact the vessel in Distress on the prescribed traffic frequency (either by Voice or SITOR/NBDP)...

Again this procedure is in the GMDSS rules that I read, and was confirmed to me personally by the USCG (not saying that they cannot be wrong, just saying this is where my info and confirmation, comes from)...

Further, this is the exact procedure I myself, have done when receiving a DSC-Distress message....
My most recent one was just last month, on 12577....and within 30 seconds I heard the USCG, NMN, on 12290 calling the vessel...
They called again and again, to no response....(and I assume that they were also sending a DSC-Distress ACK to that vessel's MMSI #)...
After more than 5 minutes, I called NMN on 12290....told them I also got the DSC-Distress and had also been monitoring 12290, hearing nothing...
They (USCG, NMN) confirmed the same, and said it was probably an accidental transmission, and that they were attempting to raise the vessel via INMARSAT as well, but also have had no response there.
I mentioned I would call them on the phone to discuss further, so as not to tie up 12290...

During our phone call, I mentioned that the Lat/Lon of that DSC-Distress placed it ON-SHORE about one mile up-river from the port of Paramaribo, Suriname (easy for me to quickly see on my chartplotter at my Nav Station), which was a surprise to the USCG, as they said they didn't have "detailed" charts at their communications station...

{I realize that not every cruiser is going to do what I did above...but since I have a decent working relationship with the USCG CAMSLANT and USCG Nav Center, I don't have a problem calling them / assisting them when desired...
See my posts here regarding the correcting of erroneous info on the USCG websites!}


In australias case the difference being there is no sea are A1/A2 so all SOLAS ships require the full A3 setup.




There is no "second" distress message.
Yes, just my poor choice of words....
(But, if you were ply the waters of a 3rd world nation and/or in areas of the oceans not covered by the NavArea/MetArea of a 1st world nation, sending a "Distress" message via BOTH an EPIRB and an HF-DSC radio will give both a redundant "alert" to the RCC (from COSPAS-SARSAT and from the coast stations, and/or relayed to the coast stations from a SOLAS vessel, either by HF-DSC or INMARSAT....) and in essence you'll be using the GMDSS how it was intended ("These systems are designed such that the alert has a very high probability of being received by either shore rescue authorities and/or other vessels in the area.")

The primary purpose of the carriage requirements is to ensure that there is an extremely good chance that your distress alert will reach the shore.
Here again, this is NOT the only reason for these carriage requirements....(see your own words/quotes above)....
"These systems are designed such that the alert has a very high probability of being received by either shore rescue authorities and/or other vessels in the area."
Any vessel that detects the alert , is expected to wait the designated wait time before issueing a DSC acknowledge and then should issues a voice MAYDAY RELAY to the MRCC, the primary purpose of which is to reach the MRCC, not necessary to act to intervene in the rescue.
And again, NOT to "intervene", but yes to relay, and yes, to provide communications to/from the vessel in distress...
If the receiving vessel can relay this distress alert to the appropriate RCC, that's fine....but, if they cannot or if after the prescribed stand-by interval has passed, the receiving vessel is encouraged ("required" ?) to attempt contact with the vessel in distress directly...

I hope all of my above writing shows that I understand the virtues and uses of the GMDSS, as well as all the ways it is designed / supposed-to be used...
But, I feel that there is still some sort of deep-rooted cultural issue that is somehow clouding over the UK/EU users understanding that DIRECT ship-to-ship Distress Signaling IS part of the GMDSS....of course, it is not the only aspect of it, but is is part of it....
It is plain and clear....it was designed that way, and is taught that way here in the US....
Dave, your own words/quote here agree with me ("3. transmitting and receiving ship-to-ship Distress Alerts; and "The GMDSS enables a ship in distress to send an alert using various radio systems. These systems are designed such that the alert has a very high probability of being received by either shore rescue authorities and/or other vessels in the area.")...
So, to use an American idiom, WHAT GIVES???

Bottom line here:
The GMDSS IS designed to do just what I've been saying/writing....and most vessels plying the oceans (Sea Areas A3 and A4) are equipped with HF-DSC receivers....





However the original idea of HF relays was essentially abandoned as DSC HF relays were causing MRCC all over the world to receive DSC alerts that were clearly not for them and then this caused major issues in who issued the HF DSC Alert acknowledge.
I believe you are referring to "automatic" DSC-distress-relays???
And, in that case, yes you are correct...

Yes, in most cases the "distress relay" does take place via INMARSAT...
Although, after the prescribed stand-by period, a SOLAS vessel could send a manual Distress relay via HF radio as you mention...

the IMO essentially then removed HF relaying. How the point of the carriage equipment is a ship can receive a distress alert on MF, and relay it as a DIRECT CALL either by DSC HF or Inmarsat call to the MRCC.

Under GMDSS unless the ship believes that no co-ordination is forthcoming, it can therefore intervene directly, but in almost every case Im aware, ships always notify an MRCC if they are as siting in a rescue. the MRCC then will either agree or divert another vessel.
Yes, I agree that the receiving vessel with attempt to relay this distress alert to the RCC....(and yes, usually via INMARSAT)...But...
But, perhaps the RCC also received your DSC-Distress alert from a coast station already and perhaps even before the COSPAS-SARSAT alert reached them....
No ship owner will send a vessel 100s of miles to then find there is a ship or other rescue asset closer.
I never met a mariner who would sail away from a vessel in distress, unless ordered to do so by the appropriate authority!!!

Although I never meant to imply that a ship would come-about upon the first burst of a DSC-Distress alert, your words are equally strange....
As under SOLAS conventions it is the duty of these mariners (SOLAS ships) to provide assistance / rescue when asked and/or when needed....and that request does NOT need to come from some shoreside authority, but rather from the master of the vessel in distress!!
Short of endangering the lives of his crew and/or the safety / integrity of his own vessel, every SOLAS vessel's master is required to provide assistance when requested by a vessel in distress, and only be absolved from this requirement by appropriate authority (an RCC)

The implementing of the GMDSS allows for both the greatest possibility of the distress alert being received AND for the appropriate RCC to coordinate assistance and rescue...BUT...
But, it does not absolve mariners from their obligations under SOLAS conventions...

Dave, forgive my bluntness here....but we may disagree on some minor points and/or our cultural/regional differences may place more or less emphasis on various parts of the GMDSS....
But, implying that a vessel's owner would have a say in whether a ship's captain stands by to render assistance to vessel declaring a Distress is just whoey!!


Again, I'm NOT saying that every vessel receiving a DSC-Distress is turing around and coming to your aide....
But...
a) having all of those vessels aware of your distress....
b) having any/all of those vessels alerting the RCC of your distress...
c) having your HF-DSC Distress call "confirm" any COSPAS-SARSAT alert received (perhaps even arriving at the RCC BEFORE your EPIRB COSPAS-SARSAT alert)
d) Having vessels in your area aware of your distress, and all coming up on the prescribed traffic frequency (HF-SSB) to contact you directly, allows everyone to understand both the nature of your distress and the abilities of those vessels nearby to render assistance (which might not be the one closest to you)

Are ALL very good things....

And, while the last item ("d") is supposed to be done by the RCC and after coordination with AMVER, etc. they'll direct appropriate assets to you...this all does take time (some times it can take hours!!), so in I would want all those vessels to know right now, that I need assistance, not 3 - 4 hours from now when the RCC contacts them via INMARSAT to let them know there is a vessel is distress nearby...



Unless more cruising boats equip with INMARSAT-C (which I would do, if I was circumnavigating via the great Capes), MF/HF-DSC is the ONLY way that other vessels in your area (beyond VHF-DSC range) can be alerted directly of your distress....
And, since my comments here were supposed to be advocating the use of HF-DSC radio in addition to an EPIRB, for distress alerting, I feel confident that I have back-up my words well...

I know there is more to write (and argue over), but I'm done for tonight (and maybe forever ....as I don't think Dave and I will ever see eye-to-eye on this point of getting the distress alert out to other vessels as well as to shore (NOT "instead of" to shore, but "in addition to")...

Gotta' go...


dave

Maybe not "meaty" enough???
But that's all I've got tonight...

Fair winds...

John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 29-04-2014, 19:40   #157
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanR View Post
Hi Dennis G,

Familiarity overcomes most hesitation about technology. The other night we called for our 8 year old to show us how to operate the CD player; he uses it all the time. And I recall a comment on the SailMail site about installing the software; if you have questions, ask a teenager.

My experience around here - SE Asia - is that with a lot of two person, male/female crewed international cruising yachts, it is the female partner of the team who runs the day to day communications. She contacts - by (no-cost) HF/SSB voice or (low-cost) HF/SSB email - other yachts to get information, ask the silly questions (which us males would be too embarassed to do), maintain contact with family and friends ashore, and download the GRIB charts and METAREA forecasts (free with SailMail or WinLink) to help guide the "captain's" decision making.

Many countries have a vessel radio license course to be taken and passed before a license to install a marine HF/SSB radio will be issued and the callsign assigned. Like starting sailing by taking a course is smart, so taking a radio training course is also smart; for both people in a 2 person crew.

In the UK, I am aware that the RYA has courses. Bob Smith from Yachtcom is a yacht owner who uses HF/SSB in his activities and who runs popular RYA training courses. He also sells and installs HF/SSB radios.

In the USA, I am not aware of courses, but I am aware of Commander (US Navy Ret) Terry Sparks who writes books about cruising, leads cruises and helps people with their radio installations. He also writes excellent books on starting cruising and on HF/SSB radio (with DSC) installation and operation. Made simple for Cruising is the name of his website.

Radio operation can seem mysterious and perhaps daunting, but it opens up all manner of cost saving, convenience and safety related opportunities for yacht owners. VHF with DSC for small boats (power or sail) and coastal cruising, and HF/SSB for larger boats (power or sail) with offhsore and international cruising aspirations.

Learning effective radio communication skills is as important as knowing how to change change fuel filters, water pump impellers or fuses.

The modern marine VHF or HF/SSB radio (both with DSC) has been designed to make use as straightforward and practical - in a bouncing boat - as possible. Go for big display screens - to see without reading glasses - and big dials, and minimal adjustments, buttons etc; so there is less to get wrong. The modern ICOM VHF and HF/SSB radios (both with DSC) have good solutions.

They are more expensive to buy than a satphone, but in the log-run, will save a lot of money. My conversations with Bob Smith and also with people from SailMail reveal a similar comment. People do not realise just how expensive operating the satphone becomes, until they start getting the bills, every month.

In contrast, all the VHF or HF/SSB voice conversations with other cruising and boating friends - for advice, to plan the route, get waypoints into an anchorage, compare marina prices, organise dinner ashore, ask for a spare water desalinator filter, or organise a tow, are totally free. And email via the not-for-profit network of over 20 linked SailMail stations around the world, is still less than US$1 per day.

Like mobile phone prices, the satphone businesses know that by getting that device into your hands, cheaply, they will win handsomely in the long-run. As an emergency communications backup and for occasional business and family calls, it's probably a smart investment. But for all the regular day to day operations, save your cruising budget for a rewarding meal ashore at the end of a passage.
+1 to all these comments.

As an experienced radio operator and having used sat phones all over the world I still prefer HF as our primary long distance comms.

The running costs are much better than sat phones and their broadcast capability is great socially. Sat phone is good for family calls and as a backup.

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Old 29-04-2014, 19:48   #158
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
boating2go,
We are all entitled to our opinions...but I think you may be laboring under some serious false impressions of how the GMDSS works, how the COSPAS-SARSAT system works, and especially on how sat phones work...

I'm glad that everyone on Rebel Heart was rescued and is back on-shore safe 'n sound....but, PLEASE understand that you are stating an opinion here (and one that is quite possibly totally unique!) that nobody who understands the COSPAS-SARSAT system and the GMDSS would ever give any credence to!! I cannot in good conscience ignore this....as it may very well cause someone to lose their life and/or vessel...
When you write "You can not count on anything like you can on a sat phone.", I cringe when I read that!!

Please understand that I'm NOT anti-satphone....but there is NO way that I would ever say that a sat phone was a reliable piece of gear (even the most reliable INMARSAT-C has had some equipment failures)....
{FYI, in addition to starting my cruising/voyaging as a kid in the 1960's....and have sailed across oceans multiple times, etc. and cruised offshore for many years....I have also made my living in the sat comm industry for over 30 years now...the past 20 years specializing in commercial sat comm systems design and engineering......and I was one of the first commercial/private users of Iridium back in the 1990's!! So, I am NOT in anyway anti-satphone!!}



I feel this could deteriorate into a argument, which nobody here wants (and which I will not participate in), so maybe I could sum things up this way...

a) Read these discussions AND the links provided there....
EPIRB Activation? What happens/How to improve rescue odds

Icom M-802 DSC-Distress Signaling, what really happens!


b) And if you can stand a bit of tongue-in-cheek.....
I fear that the wonderful outcome of the Rebel Heart rescue (which is being touted on-line as the best all-time maritime rescue), will be used as a way for many to ignore the virtues of the GMDSS and the COSPAS-SARSAT systems (both of which save lives worldwide, EVERY DAY).....
{Saying that "heck, they used a sat phone to get rescued, so that's what is best.".....would be like saying that since the teenager who stowed-away in the wheel-well of the Hawaiian Airlines flight across the Pacific yesterday miraculously survived the flight, so now when I fly up to Chicago for a meeting, I don't need to buy a plane ticket, as I can just sneak into the landing-gear wheel-well, and I'll be fine.....
How many of you would think I'm serious....and if I was, how many would think me completely nuts???}



I hope you take my words here, to heart.....
I intend to help and inform.....not criticize....


Fair winds...

John
s/v Annie Laurie


those looking for excuses to not properly equip their vessels
Its an illusion that sat comms are more reliable than HF. If they were then SOLAS would mandate sat comms and abandon HF. HF radio is also important for militaries and civil defence to provide comms where no other broadcast comms are available.

While HF is affected by weather and atmospheric effects it is the skill of the radio operator that makes HF our more trusted option. We also use it daily.

Like anything skill based it typically takes 10,000 hours to achieve competence. HF radio is not plug and play which is what makes many people discount its utility.

A good risk based approach is to have both, HF and sat comms, and keep your skills current.

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Old 29-04-2014, 20:38   #159
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

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Originally Posted by leftbrainstuff View Post
Its an illusion that sat comms are more reliable than HF. If they were then SOLAS would mandate sat comms and abandon HF.
I think we'll see SOLAS do exactly this in the next 10 years.

Look at how quickly Loran-C was replaced in the US by satellite based GPS.

The social and hobbyist applications of HF will keep it going among pleasure boaters but the writing seems to be on the wall for commercial and military.
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Old 30-04-2014, 01:36   #160
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlF View Post
I think we'll see SOLAS do exactly this in the next 10 years.

Look at how quickly Loran-C was replaced in the US by satellite based GPS.

The social and hobbyist applications of HF will keep it going among pleasure boaters but the writing seems to be on the wall for commercial and military.
Hi CarlF,

I have been involved with HF/SSB comms for over 40 years. I used it when I was working in a not-for-profit adventure education organisation because it gave us long and short distance comms at no talk cost. Because the broadcast feature meant we could update staff in vehicles, remote bascamps etc in different locations simultaneously. And because it saved us an enormous amount of time, money and human energy in our operations. And because it was free to talk, we were not constrained by the worry of a hefty monthly bill.

In the last 25 years I have used it very successfully in recreational boating. It has done the same; saved a lot of money, made cruising and racing much easier and safer, and allowed us to conveniently communicate - at no cost - with many people at once, to get information, advice and assistance.

Over those years I've heard it said many times that HF/SSB is old technology and will be phased out. But it is still here; and getting better all the time. Smaller, more effective, more versatile. It has adapted to incorporate modern services (eg email) and digital technology and with DSC marine HF/SSB radios have entered a new era whereby it is now far easier for everyone - commercial and recreational users - to comfortably maintain the 24/7 watch that all are supposed to do; to listen for calls for assistance from other mariners. (Hand's up all the people who keep a non-DSC HF/SSB radio scanning the distress frequencies listening for MAYDAY calls 24/7. Or have it on but the speaker volume is turned down so no calls can be heard. Exactly!)

In fact, the sales of HF/SSB equipment have leapt in the last 10 years. 9/11 and the TS that devistated New Orleans, demonstrated that the sophisticated communication networks we have come to rely on are indeed quite fragile. In fact, at the exact moment when the greatest co-ordination and response effort for a natural or man-made disaster is required, many of the regular communication systems are down, leaving what's left vastly overloaded. HF/SSB radio sales around the world have subsequently boomed. The two main Australian manufacturers - Codan and Barrett - have seen major growth, with Codan opening offices around the world.

And HAMs in the USA developed a natural disaster community email service using HF/SSB radios, Pactor controllers and their WinLink system.

Each time there is a natural disaster in this region - SE Asia - we see a similar pattern. I get calls from overseas relief agencies asking can they use our email and voice services.

When the Asian Tsunami devastated the Phuket region of Thailand, local SailMail traffic leapt to more than triple normal, because survivors were taking boats out to anchored yachts to ask can they please send messages to family overseas to advise their situation, or to contact relevant shore organisations, authorities, shops etc for local assistance. Because local phone services - including ground links to satellite based international calls - were seriously damaged. What was still working was grossly overloaded.

Apart from damaged or water-logged cables, connection boxes and exchanges, all these sophisticated systems also rely on sophisticated electrical distribution networks to function. No electricity = no communications. It's a very immediate and complete end to regular communication in the affected areas. Local and regional calls via regular landline or microwave links stop, as do cellphone calls via towers, and internationally calls via ground stations with links to satellites. It all abruptly and absolutely stops; exactly when it is needed most.

The bushfires that devistated Victoria (Australia) a few years ago left a couple of hundred people dead. The sophisticated hilltop communication towers that were supposed to distribute SMS warnings and updates to people, along with FM radio broadcasts, stopped working. No electricity = no comms. People had been trained to expect evacuation warnings via SMS messages on cellphones, or FM radio station broadcasts from those towers. They simply did not occur. Those same networked hilltop towers also carried the trunked VHF radio communication systems for police, fire brigade, rural bushfire brigade trucks, fire-stations and fire-fighters, ambulance, emergency services etc. They all lost their comms too. The central control room in Melbourne had no comms with the affected areas for days. It took over a week for some very limited capabilities to be re-established - even with the nearby availability of spare parts and competent technicians in Melbourne - exactly in the time period when the response needs to be at its peak and effectively co-ordinated by radio, mobile phones etc. So now there are HF/SSB radios and Pactor controllers – for voice, email and position reporting – being fitted to fire trucks and rural brigades. People learnt the hard way. They chose not to implement a satphone based system; for the usual reasons, and the fact that in valleys and under vegetation, satphone based communications is often impossible.

The military has plenty of money to buy and operate remarkably sophisticated systems that use high power satellite communication, and we have all seen the amazing results. But take another look at the planes, tanks, armoured personnel carriers, and the infantry backpacks. They are still using HF/SSB radios - and more of them - because it keeps working when all the whiz-bang stuff stops.

Certainly, there are nuances and techniques to make HF/SSB radios work, but most are well within the capability of an infantry soldier, cruising couple and rural fire brigade member. They do not require a rocket scientist, astranaught, sophisticated telecommunications engineer, power station technician or electrical distribution engineer to keep them working.

In the marine situation, the HF/SSB radio with DSC is the common technology that links all mariners. These radios are part of the equipment on supertankers, navy ships, Coast Guard Cutters, fishing trawlers, container ships, tugs, live-aboard dive boats, ferries, resort transfer vessels, coastal traders and yachts. If you push that DSC emergency button, there is a very high probability you will connect with someone nearby; as recommended by MRCC Australia.

The big ships dropped their very heavy use of HF/SSB (eg for telephone calls) when GMDSS compelled them to buy and use expensive INMARSAT equipment. Certainly, this caused many coast stations around the world to close (no money from the telephone interconnects) and for small-craft like yachts to lose access to free voice broadcast weather forecasts, weather faxes, MSI warnings etc. But along came email via HF/SSB radio and yachties now have a replacement source for all that information, again using the cheap to operate HF/SSB radio.

One of the major advantages of big ships moving over to pay INMARSAT a small fortune for their communication and weather services, is that they no longer hog the HF/SSB frequencies with their high powered transmissions. Marine HF/SSB has become far more useful for the little people with a lot less money.

There are millions more commercial vessels under 300 tonnes than the big SOLAS vessels over 300 tonnes. These small commercial vessels – fishing trawlers, tugs, barges, ferries, live-aboard surf and dive boats, resort transfer boats, skippered charter yachts etc - are not required to carry the expensive satellite based systems used on the container ships, tankers etc which are SOLAS vessels. But many do carry marine HF/SSB and VHF radios. Many maritime and communication authorities now require these smaller commercial vessels to carry a DSC capable HF/SSB radio if operating beyond VHF shore station services. Like the transition of recreational vessel HF/SSB radios to DSC capable, these small commercial vessels have already switched over, or are presently switching to DSC. Therefore, when cruising in isolated areas, away from major big ship routes and harbours, a DSC alarm is likely to find one of these vessels much closer than a big ship.

According to a radio reseller, the ICOM M802(DSC) was developed as a cheaper DSC capable HF/SSB for the USA fishing fleet. Around Australia and in Europe,ICOM's M810(GMDSS) is the minimum standard for small commercial vessels. ICOM's M801(E) is the minimum standard for recreational vessels in the UK/Europe and Australia. It has the same sealed, aluminium, heatsink case as the M801(GMDSS), so coffee, water, salt-air and dust cannot be sucked in through the vent holes by cooling fans; as is the case with the M802(DSC). Marine and communication authorities in Australia, Europe and the UK apparently view the M801 format as a more robust and durable radio than the M802(DSC).

There is a SOLAS regulation regarding lending assistance to other mariners which applies to all vessels – big SOLAS vessels, small commercial vessels and privately owned recreational vessels. It reflects the age-old tradition that mariners look out for each other and provide assistance, because everyone accepts we are operating beyond our natural environment; we do not have gills or fins.

SOLAS Convention Chapter V Regulation 33 (replaces old Regulation 10) states:- “The master of a ship at sea which is in a position to be able to provide assistance, on receiving a signal from any source that persons are in distress at sea, is bound to proceed with all speed to their assistance, if possible informing them or the SAR service that the ship is doing so. If the ship receiving the distress alert is unable or, in the special circumstances of the case, considers it unreasonable or unnecessary to proceed to their assistance, the master must enter in the log-book the reason for failing to proceed to the assistance of the persons in distress and, taking into
account the recommendations of the Organization++, inform the appropriate SAR service accordingly.”

Similarly, the very first rule in the Racing Rules of Sailing – Rule 1.1 Helping those in Danger – states “A boat or competitor shall give all possible help to any person or vessel in danger.”

It is very difficult to help someone if you do not know they need help. The DSC capable VHF (short range) and HF/SSB (long range) radios are the convenient, common, communication devices used by all types of vessels – big or small, commercial, government, military, tourism or privately owned – to create a common communication pathway, linking everyone together into a maritime safety network that facilitates a prompt response from nearby vessels in accordance with SOLAS regulation 33. And to also contact a more distant MRCC.

Most maritime disasters do not occur in extreme weather. The recent incident of the South Korean ferry sinking occurred in calm seas, as did the cruise ship grounding in the Med, and also the Titanic. A yacht race or rally fleet just beyond the horizon would have saved hundreds of Titanic passengers, if the yacht crews knew about it. One DSC distress button press on the modern day Titanic's HF/SSB radio would alert all nearby small-craft - fishing trawlers, tugs, yachts, dive boats etc – which are ideally suited to retrieving people from the water. But this only works if everyone has a similar DSC capable radio, and only if everyone keeps their radio switched on, 24/7.

Commercial vessels are required to maintain a 24/7 watch for DSC calls, by keeping their radios switched on at all times. These are the vessels and family breadwinners which yacht crews expect to provide assistance when we call for help if beyond the umbrella of professional, 24/7 S&R services. Commercial vessel crews – who lose money and time and put themselves at risk to help yacht crews in distress – would be far less concerned about the one-sided nature of this arrangement if recreational vessel owners reciprocated, by also maintaining a 24/7 watch for their DSC alarms on marine VHF and HF/SSB radios.

Equipping a yacht solely with satellite phone communications - without effective DSC radios for the area of operation - is like saying "I plan to call an MRCC on my satellite phone to get help. I expect other mariners and S&R personnel to maintain a watch on their radios 24/7 to receive distress alerts from the MRCC, and I expect them to abide by the maritime regulations and come to my assistance if I need it. But I'm not willing to contribute to the same marine safety network or comply with the same maritime regulations designed to create prompt assistance for all mariners; regardless of size or wealth. I will not monitor for DSC distress alerts from other vessels or an MRCC. Therefore, I am choosing to not make myself and my vessel available to help the same mariners I expect to help me". This approach appears to be in direct conflict with SOLAS regulation 33 and rule 1.1 in the Racing Rules of Sailing.

HF/SSB radio is not a dead technology. It's use is growing daily because it has been able to incorporate modern ideas and technologies to make it even more effective. In the marine environment, it is the only common link between all manner of vessels operating offshore.

On this side of the world, a modern DSC capable HF/SSB radio is mandatory according to numerous authorities - maritime, communications, yachting and race organisers - because it works and because it provides the first and principle option to get timely, nearby support, advice and emergency assistance.

And that's also what MRCC Australia says; repeatedly. For big and small vessels.

Best wishes to all who are preparing to come our way and for whom this information is intended. Cruising our side is a great adventure that requires a greater degree of self-sufficiency and mutual support. It is also a very rewarding journey of discovery to enjoy amazing places and meet all manner of people.

Be sure to pack a backup satphone.

But most importantly, for you - and anyone planning to cruise, race or rally beyond the umbrella of VHF shore stations and 24/7, prompt S&R resources - be prepared with an effective VHF and HF/SSB radio with DSC; the first choice to manage the journey, conveniently contact like-minded yachties, minimise communication and operating costs and link into the existing maritime safety network composed of hundreds of thousands of vessels; some nearby to you.
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Old 30-04-2014, 18:11   #161
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

Ahoy!
What are the frequencies for
* transmitting and monitoring hf distress transmissions
* ship to ship transmissions
* sailing yacht to yacht personal transmissions in the equatorial regions, Indonesia?

Thanks for your help.
ps, i dont have a dsc hf, just a Kenwood ts-50
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Old 30-04-2014, 19:23   #162
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

Surfmachine,
Without DSC, you're fairly limited....as there are few coast stations monitoring these Voice freqs anymore (and NO vessels)....
Taupo Radio in NZ, VMC and VMW in Australia, the USCG, and a few others do still maintain a voice radio watch on these freqs....(but without DSC or SelCall for the land-mobile user, you're pretty limited...Brunei Bay Radio requests that you e-mail them before you depart on a planned voyage to set-up a daily voice radio contact schedule...)
But, here are the answers...


Quote:
Originally Posted by surfmachine View Post
What are the frequencies for
* transmitting and monitoring hf distress transmissions
All USB (Upper SideBand):
2182khz, 4125khz, 6215khz, 8291khz, 12290khz, and 16420khz...

With 8291khz being your best bet overall for ranges up to 500 miles daytime and 3 times that at night....12290khz is your best bet for ranges from 400 miles to 4000 miles daytime.....

(and 2182khz being okay for raising another vessel in the immediate area / short-range, up-to-100 miles daytime, and 300miles nighttime....)

http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=cgcommsCall

http://www.gmdss.com.au/oz.html

http://www.bom.gov.au/marine/radio-sat/marine-weather-hf-radio.shtml



* ship to ship transmissions
Within VHF range, "Bridge-to-Bridge" comms is usually on VHF ch. 13....
But even here, without DSC you're not guaranteed to establish contact...

When beyond VHF-DSC range, you'd need an MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephone (such as the Icom M-802 / M-801), as there no regular ship-to-ship Voice comms on MF/HF, they are usually coordinated by MF/HF-DSC or via INMARSAT...



* sailing yacht to yacht personal transmissions in the equatorial regions, Indonesia?
In addition to the above six freqs....there are others that are used...
8294 and 12359 are popular with long range cruisers, and the use of a 4mhz and 6mhz ship-to-ship channel for "local cruiser's nets"...

See the details here...
http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=rtchansi


Thanks for your help.
ps, i dont have a dsc hf, just a Kenwood ts-50


Have a look at these pages...

Australian marine comms

HF Marine Radio Services



DSC DISTRESS

MF & HF Channel Information

Distress-Safety

West Coast Nets

SSB Simplex Channels



Brunei Bay Radio - HF radio for recreational Small Craft

Brunei Bay Radio - Unique cruising conditions on this side of the world



Taupo Maritime Radio ZLM - New Zealand coast radio station

The maritime radio service for New Zealand - Maritime New Zealand



I hope this helps...

Fair winds...

John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 01-05-2014, 23:04   #163
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by surfmachine View Post
Ahoy!
What are the frequencies for
* transmitting and monitoring hf distress transmissions
* ship to ship transmissions
* sailing yacht to yacht personal transmissions in the equatorial regions, Indonesia?

Thanks for your help.
ps, i dont have a dsc hf, just a Kenwood ts-50

Hi Surfmachine,

Some additional useful information, I hope:

1. See Brunei Bay Radio - Emergency contacts - Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centres for contact information of MRCCs in SE Asia region; and also the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Indonesia has some unique practices for MRCC contact via HF/SSB, which are listed in the linked document.

2. I am not aware of a particular frequency used by yachts in this region for general contact and communications. What I observe as a common practice is that groups of yachts moving roughly together arrange a time and frequency to have daily or twice daily skeds. The HF/SSB frequency they choose depends on a variety of factors. Apart from the distance they are apart and time of day influences on the chosen frequency, some groups are all HAMs so they choose a HAM frequency. Other groups (HAM or not HAMs) use a regular maritime simplex radio frequency for ship to ship comms.

A problem that routinely arises is that yacht crews who are not HAMs have only a HAM radio on-board (eg: sold with the yacht) but do not know how to operate the radio correctly. Also, the HAM radio in standard form is blocked from use on the maritime frequencies to communicate with other yachts. Tge HAM radio is not type approved for use on the maritime HF/SSB service because the wider frequency bandwidth used by HAM radios can cause interference on adjacent marine frequencies. This is, unfortunately, a not irregular occurrence and can create problems for unwary buyers, blocking them from useful general communications and mutual support among yachts, and especially in organised events; rallies or races.

Yachts coming from Australia often use the two simplex frequencies assigned there for yacht race communications - 4483 and 6516. You might find that listening on these frequencies you will hear other yachts doing check-in and daily plans, perhaps morning and evening.

The 2Meg maritime frequencies do not work well in tropical latitudes; just too much background noise. 4Meg seems to be the lowest practical. I was in the signal station at Brunei just two weeks ago and they said yes, they dutifully maintain their GMDSS required watch on 2182, but it really does not work. They also maintain a scanning watch on the 4, 6, 8, 12 & 16 Meg DSC alarm/calling frequencies.

3. Ship to ship transmissions can be found on the full range of marine simplex frequencies. Different businesses, communities and cruising friends choose particular frequencies. Some have skeds at particular times. You will just need to listen around. Groups of cruising yachts generally communicate with each other at the start of the day - from about 0730 to 0900 - so that could be a good time to listen around on the marine simplex frequencies.

However, if your TS-50 has been altered to work on other than HAM frequencies, it's best not to transmit, as the HAM radio bandwidth is likely to cause interference to regular maritime communications on adjacent frequencies.
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Old 02-05-2014, 02:18   #164
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

Is it me or has this thread been taken over by several Leo Tolstoy wannabees?
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Old 02-05-2014, 04:35   #165
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

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Originally Posted by JazzyO View Post
Is it me or has this thread been taken over by several Leo Tolstoy wannabees?
Don't know about Tolstoy but these long winded discourses are definite economic.proofs... that SSB will certainly be cheaper!
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