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VHF Marine Radio Channels for Recreational Boaters

Photo Credit: National Safe Boating Council

It’s important that boaters use the correct channel when communicating on a VHF (very high frequency) marine band radio.

Here are VHF-FM non-commercial channels recreational boaters may use in specific situations. Federal Communications Commission regulations require boaters having VHF radios to maintain a watch on either channel 9 or channel 16, whenever the radio is turned on and not communicating with another station. All non-emergency traffic should be communicated on another channel (not channels 9 or 16).

New Channel Number Old Channel Number Ship Transmit MHz Ship Receive MHz Use
09 09 156.450 156.450 Boater Calling. Commercial and Non-Commercial. VDSMS
13 13 156.650 156.650 Intership Navigation Safety (Bridge-to-bridge). Ships >20m length maintain a listening watch on this channel in US waters.
16 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.
1022 22A 157.100 157.100 Coast Guard Liaison and Maritime Safety Information Broadcasts. Broadcasts announced on channel 16.
68 68 156.425 156.375 Non-Commercial. VDSMS
69 69 156.475 156.475 Non-Commercial. VDSMS
70 70 156.525 156.525 Digital Selective Calling (voice communications not allowed)
71 71 156.575 156.575 Non-Commercial. VDSMS
72 72 156.625 156.625 Non-Commercial (Intership only). VDSMS


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