Coastguards pressed to monitor mobile phones

Coastguards will no longer keep a dedicated listening ‘watch’ to Channel 16, the VHF distress channel, via headphones, from 00.01 on 22 September 2003, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency have announced.

Instead they will keep ‘watch’ via loudspeaker unless the ‘risk and operational demand’ mean that headphones will be donned.

The MCA say the reason is that the increasing use of automated distress alerts via satellite communications, digital selective calling (DSC) and mobile phones means Coastguards are obliged to monitor these methods, too.