The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is a key part of Australia’s search and rescue system, built upon strong collaborative relationships and formal arrangements. This construct allows us to provide an effective search and rescue service to anyone in distress, no matter where they are in the Australian search and rescue region.
A critical component of the search and rescue system is the availability of high frequency (HF) radio – a solution for a vessel outside of the very-high frequency (VHF) shore station range. Since 2002, two services have been provided in Australia, a radiotelephone service by the states and the Northern Territory, and a digital selective calling service (DSC) provided by AMSA.
Commencing 1 January 2022, AMSA will provide a unified HF radio service, incorporating radiotelephone and DSC for distress alerting and calls. AMSA Chief Executive Officer Mick Kinley said mariners will reap benefits from continued provision of these critical services.
‘AMSA’s delivery of 24-hour nationwide monitoring of HF radiotelephone distress, urgency, and safety communications, in addition to its existing HF DSC service – will continue a critical safety system for mariners in Australian waters.’
‘Supplementing this service, AMSA will provide maritime safety information (MSI) via HF radiotelephone, with improved scheduling and frequency availability to the AUSCOAST warning areas,’ Mr Kinley said.
The change comes despite a steady decline in the use of HF radiotelephone in Australia, which resulted in a consultation in 2019 to determine whether the service should be discontinued. Based on public feedback received and acknowledging the implications on industry, AMSA agreed to provide a consistent national approach.
‘Although we have seen a decline in the use of HF radiotelephone, we also have a responsibility to provide services to ensure the safety of mariners who rely on it’ Mr Kinley said.