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communication - page 5

7.5 Urgency messages and Safety

Urgency messages are prefixed with the words PAN-PAN repeated three times. This indicates that the vessel or crew have a serious problem but are not in a distress situation. It is often difficult to decide whether to send a MAYDAY or PAN-PAN message. Consider the definition of Distress: ".....Grave and imminent danger and requires IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE", anything less may justify an urgency signal.

Examples of Urgency include a boat taking on water, but not yet sinking; an engine failure with no other means of propulsion but some distance from a lee shore; injury to a crew member who needs treatment but whose life is not threatened. Remember that an urgency situation can always be upgraded to a distress situation. 

Urgency alerting by DSC

Using DSC select Urgency Call and press the Enter button. After sending the DSC alert the operator must wait 15 seconds before sending the voice Urgency Call and message on Ch16. Whether DSC is fitted or not, the voice message is almost identical; the only difference is that the MMSI must given if DSC is present. 

An example of such a message is as follows:

Pan-Pan, Pan-Pan, Pan-Pan

Paros Coastguard, Paros Coastguard, Paros Coastguard

This is sailing yaht Nafsika, Nafsika, Nafsika. MMSI 234001234

My position is 37°09'.75N 25°06'.43E

Total engine failure and drifting

I require assistance to clear Traffic Separation Scheme

Two persons on board

Colour of hull white, mast black



The proword for Safety messages is Securite, pronounced 'say-cure-ee-tay'. This word is spoken three times indicating that the station is about to transmit a mesage containing an important navigational or meteorological warning. It normally originates from a shore authority but may, under special circumstances, be sent by a vessel at sea. This will be a rare event and only likely if you were to sight something like a party submerged container in an area of high density traffic. 

The DSC safety alert

Select Safety Call from the call menu and press Enter button. Your VHF radio will automatically switch to Ch16. 

The safety Call

A Safety Call, given by voice on Ch16 will announce which working channel is to be used for the remain body of the message.

Example: on Ch16

Securite, Securite, Securite

All stations, all stations, all stations

This Paros coastguard, Paros coastguard, Paros coastguard

For urgent navigational warning listen Channel 67


Then on Ch67

Securite, Securite, Securite

All stations, all stations, all stations

This Paros coastguard, Paros coastguard, Paros coastguard

Large drifting hulk reported in position three seven degress zero nine minutes North, two five degress zero six minutes East

Considered to be a danger to surface navigation

Time of origin one two three zero UTC


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