SOUTHOLD, N.Y. – Sea Tow Services International, Inc. announced it has completed installation of its Automated Radio Check boating safety service through its network of Sea Tow franchises, and will make the free public service available nationwide through additional marine outlets.
Boaters now are able to obtain radio checks through the Sea Tow ARC service in major coastal boating markets across the United States, including the East Coast, Gulf of Mexico, and Southern California, as well as in select inland regions. The first boating safety program of its kind, Sea Tow ARC is made possible due to Sea Tow’s ongoing relationship with marine communications specialist MariTEL.
Boaters can simply tune their VHF radios to a specific channel, depending on the region, key the mic, and ask for a radio check. The ARC system responds to each radio check with an automated reply, and also replays to the boater’s original radio transmission, allowing him or her to assess the strength of the signal and confirm the VHF radio is in good working order.
“It’s the same procedure you would use to get a radio check on Channel 9, but it doesn’t require a fellow boater or watch-stander to answer your hail; it’s automated,” said Capt. Joe Frohnhoefer, founder, chairman and CEO of Sea Tow Services International. “A properly working VHF is essential safety equipment on every boat. Equally important to boater safety in general is the fact that the ARC system helps reduce unnecessary chatter on Channel 16.”
“Excessive radio traffic on Channel 16 (156.8) continues to be a challenge for Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Centers,” said Capt. David A. McBride, U.S. Coast Guard Chief of the Office of Search and Rescue. “Although not explicitly prohibited, routine radio checks conducted on Channel 16 can interfere with vital distress and safety communications. Unintentionally broadcasting while a distress call is being made can cause a call to either be missed, interrupted or reduce the Coast Guard’s ability to leverage its new Rescue 21 Communication System’s direction-finding capability. The Coast Guard applauds innovative approaches, such as Sea Tow’s Automated Radio Check System, that provide effective alternative means of conducting radio checks and reducing calls conducted on Channel 16, freeing up the frequency to be utilized for what it was intended—saving lives and keeping mariners safe.”
“Sea Tow is happy to be playing our part to help the Coast Guard at no extra cost to boaters,” Frohnhoefer said. “Our ARC service is available to everyone free of charge, regardless of whether they are Sea Tow members or not.”