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Methods for Contacting the U.S. Coast Guard

To report a Search and Rescue Emergency By: 

Telephone    VHF-FM Radio    Cellular Phone    Email    Other Methods

USCG RCCs

By Telephone
telephone

Look in the front of your telephone directory for an emergency number listing for the U. S. Coast Guard
or
Dial 911
or
Call the nearest U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center  listed on the USCG Rescue Coordination Centers (RCCs) page

By VHF-FM Radio
VHF-FM radios are the preferred method  for reporting emergencies from vessels on the water.

Call U.S. Coast Guard on Channel 16 VHF-FM (156.8 MHz)

Emergency Radio Call Procedures:
1.  Make sure radio is on
2.  Select channel 16
3.  Press/hold the transmit button
4.  Clearly say: "MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY"
5.  Also give:  - Vessel name and/or description
                      - Position and/or location
                      - Nature of emergency
                      - Number of people on board
6. Release transmit button
7. Wait for 10 seconds - if NO response repeat call.
* Intentional hoax calls are an offense and subject to prosecution
  (see Hoax information page).

By Cellular Phone
Cellular phones are an acceptable secondary means of calling the Coast Guard.

Look in the front of your telephone directory for an emergency number listing for the U. S. Coast Guard
or
Dial 911
or
Call the nearest U. S. Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center listed on the USCG Rescue Coordination Centers (RCC's) page

By Email
computer

Currently the U.S. Coast Guard email system is not set up to accept or respond to emergency SAR messages.  If you are in distress or need to report an emergency, do NOT send it via email, contact the Coast Guard via telephone or radio.

By other methods

The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) provides a number of additional means for contacting or alerting SAR authorities.  These include INMARSAT, SARSAT (EPIRBs, ELTs, and PLBs), MF-DSC, HF-DSC, etc. 

In addition, for vessels or persons in distress there are nationally and internationally accepted/prescribed visual and sound distress signals (flares, horns, mirrors, flashing lights, flags, etc).

 

Last Modified 8/26/2013