End of an Era - Coast Guard will stop using Medium Frequency 2182 kHz as an international distress frequency
by John C Payne
The U.S. Coast Guard has decided to terminate its use of radiotelephone "Medium Frequency" (MF) 2182 kHz, which was first designated more than 65 years ago, as an international distress frequency. "Advancements in satellite, digital, very high frequency (VHF), and high frequency (HF) radio communication equipment, including satellite service provider competition, have improved service and reduced costs of this equipment causing MF radiotelephone to become obsolete," explained a Coast Guard notice published in the Federal Register on July 15.
"The site deterioration, costly upkeep, and extensive maintenance required to support this legacy MF system, as well as the relatively minimal use by mariners, has led the Coast Guard to decide to discontinue support of the MF system," the Coast Guard added. The 2182 kHz frequency, generally referred to as "Medium Frequency," was first designated at the International Telecommunications Union Radio Conference in Atlantic City, NJ, in 1947.
Many countries terminated their use of 2182 kHz after 1999, but the Coast Guard continued to use this frequency for "watchkeeping”; from shore in order to support smaller vessels that operate between approximately 20 and 100 miles from shore that were not subject to the Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). Effective on August 1, the Coast Guard will terminate its use of 2182 kHz for these watchkeeping purposes, said the notice. "Mariners should not need to purchase any new equipment to make this change from 2182 kHz to other GMDSS Global Maritime Distress and Safety System
distress frequencies," noted the Coast Guard