DSC for the Handheld Marine VHF

As mates, masters and pilots of really big ships we get plenty of bragging rights on the waterfront but the small guys have one thing on us, cool handheld electronics. Sure we (well most of us) have million dollar GMDSS, VSAT, ECDIS and radar systems that would make any geek drool but the small interesting stuff often eludes us. That’s why I was blown away today by Panbo‘s post on his Standard/Horizon HX470S VHF handheld with DSC.

HX470S Marine VHF Radio with DSCWe have already touched on the importance of Digital Selective Calling (DSC) in collision avoidance (HERE) as well as the importance of communication devices in an abandon ship scenario (HERE) but this device allows you the capabilities of both. See DSC is important because it sets off an alarm on the bridge of a ship. Every ocean going ship monitors VHF Ch. 16 but for a number of reasons (interference, volume left on low, mate stepping out to the bridge wing…) not every call is heard. DSC is different because it sets and alarm off on the bridge of the ship and has the capability of changing the VHF channel on their radio.

Why is this important (take notes if you want to sell the idea to the Marine Superintendent) let’s say you abandon ship and are drifting at sea. You see a ship on the horizon but fail to hail it on 16 or with your pyrotechnics… simply activate the DSC feature on your HX470S and start hailing MAYDAY. Your chances of being heard just improved. The remote chance of using this feature seem hardly worth the effort of ordering…. until you need it.

Read Panbo’s take HERE and the specs HERE. The only question is when will Garmin bring AIS data to the NUVI??