FAO: Holders of the RYA VHF Handbook published before July 2019

A number of updates have recently been made to both the hard copy and electronic versions of the RYA VHF
Handbook following various regulatory and technological changes. The subjects of some of these changes are
covered in the SRC course as well as in SRC written and practical exams and it is important that holders of
earlier editions of the RYA VHF Handbook are aware of the most up-to-date information:



The most critical update is a change to the protocol for Distress Relay:
Digital Selective Calling (DSC) is no longer used to initiate a Distress Relay voice call
and message. Distress Relay should be made by voice only, targeted to a specific
Coast Station using VHF CH 16.

  • Other updates that candidates for the SRC exam should be aware of include:
    The term ‘SART’ may refer to an AIS-based ‘Search and Rescue Transmitter’ or a radar-based ‘Search
    and Rescue Transponder’. Both systems are now officially part of the GMDSS.
  •  The channels on which UK Maritime Safety Information (MSI) messages are transmitted have been
    changed to 62, 63 and 64.
  • A Ship Portable Radio Licence (SPRL) is for equipment such as a handheld VHF, PLB or EPIRB that may
    be used on multiple vessels. An SPRL is valid only to the extent of UK territorial seas.
  •  Some VHF sets fitted with DSC now include an in-built function to cancel a distress alert instead of the
    switch-off-switch-back-on approach. Users of VHF radios are reminded of the importance of
    familiarising themselves with the specific equipment that they will use.
  • RYA SafeTrx has replaced CG66 as the UK’s voluntary identification database.
  • Official ITU Radio Regulations terminology has been adopted to refer to urgency, safety and routine
    DSC calls. The correct terms are, ‘Urgency Announcement’, ‘Safety Announcement’ and ‘Routine
    Announcement’. Previously these we referred to as ‘Alerts’, a term which is reserved for DSC ‘Distress’
    calls only
  •  An EPIRB or PLB must be programmed with a Hex ID. An EPIRB may also incorporate an AIS
    transmitter as well as a GNSS receiver.

The detailed list of changes may be found at:

Notice written by the Royal Yacting Association September 2019

01704 539578

Your Safety at Sea is Always our top priority