The following information has just been released by the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) in the new edition of their Marine Radio Handbook:
Monitoring of the MF/HF radiotelephony distress and calling frequencies listed in paragraph 24.1 (ie: 2182, 4125, 6215, 8291, 12290 and 16420 kHz) by Australian coast stations will be provided for the use of small vessels through to 1 July 2002.
After that date, small vessels will need to use HF digital selective calling (DSC) techniques in order to alert an Australian coast station. This applies to all distress, safety and routine communications. After the initial DSC alert, communications between coast and ship stations normally revert to radiotelephony.
Also from 1 July 2002, it is expected that broadcasting of navigational warnings by radiotelephony from Australian coast stations will be discontinued. Radiotelephony broadcasts of weather information from these stations may also cease on that date.
At the time of publication of this Handbook (May 2000), State and Territory governments are investigating strategies to provide equivalent safety radiocommunications services to small vessels. The Bureau of Meteorology is considering options for the promulgation of weather forecasts and warnings.
Monitoring of selected MF/HF radiotelephony distress and calling frequencies by limited coast stations operated by volunteer marine rescue organisations is expected to be unaffected.
Some weather information will continue to be available by radiotelephony from these stations and via various telephone dial-up and Internet services provided by the Bureau of Meteorology and some government maritime agencies.
It is suggested that owners and operators of small vessels presently relying on MF and HF radiotelephony safety services continue to monitor the situation. Future editions of this andbook will contain updated information.