The National Coastwatch Institution (NCI), an entirely voluntary organization keeping a visual watch along UK shores, has been allocated a national license by OFCOM for the use of VHF Channel 65. This dedicated channel has been granted to NCI with strong support from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
Channel 65 will facilitate communications between NCI lookouts and seafarers on a variety of routine matters. Stations will be able to respond to requests from passing, as well as local sailing craft and fishing vessels for radio checks as well as actual weather and sea state conditions. They will also be able to provide on request information on a range of local facilities including, for example, local moorings, charted anchorages, water taxi contact details and local hazards.
This facility is scheduled to become operational on 1 October 2014 when National Coastwatch stations will go live for the first time on Channel 65. In the meantime, stations will be equipped with a dedicated radio for this purpose and the service will replace the practice of some stations currently holding a licence to operate on Marina Channel 37. This will no longer be available.
Commenting on the allocation, Alan Richards, Chairman of the National Coastwatch said: “NCI has long aspired to have the use of a dedicated national marine VHF channel to facilitate radio communications between stations and seafarers. This is a major milestone for us, not least as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the start of our organisation. It is indeed a significant and welcome step forward for NCI and is an acknowledgement of our professional capability to communicate effectively with all who use our coastal waters and with our Search and Rescue partners at both local and national level”.
For more on NCI visit www.nci.org.uk