It marks a major milestone for the NCI voluntary service
The National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) has been allocated a national licence by OFCOM for the use of VHF Channel 65.
This dedicated channel has been granted to NCI with strong support from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
Channel 65 will facilitate communications between NCI lookouts and seafarers on a variety of routine matters.
Stations will be able to respond to requests from passing, as well as local sailing craft and fishing vessels for radio checks as well as actual weather and sea state conditions.
They will also be able to provide on request information on a range of local facilities including, for example, local moorings, charted anchorages, water taxi contact details and local hazards.
This facility is scheduled to become operational on 1 October 2014 when National Coastwatch stations will go live for the first time on Channel 65.
In the meantime, stations will be equipped with a dedicated radio for this purpose and the service will replace the practice of some stations currently holding a licence to operate on Marina Channel 37. This will no longer be available.
Alan Richards, Chairman of the National Coastwatch said: ‘NCI has long aspired to have the use of a dedicated national marine VHF channel to facilitate radio communications between stations and seafarers.
‘This is a major milestone for us, not least as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the start of our organisation.
‘It is indeed a significant and welcome step forward for NCI and is an acknowledgement of our professional capability to communicate effectively with all who use our coastal waters and with our Search and Rescue partners at both local and national level.’
About the NCI
NCI is an entirely voluntary organisation, set up in 1994 to restore a visual watch along UK shores following the closure of many small coastguard stations.
There are now 50 lookout stations, with more under negotiation, manned by over 2,000 volunteers at no cost to the public purse.