RCCNZ and maritime radio service continue 24/7 service

21 December 2017

The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) and maritime radio service continue working fully-staffed 24/7 over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Together they are responsible for navigation warnings and maritime radio coverage of NAVAREA XIV, which is 50 million square kilometers of the south-west Pacific and Southern Oceans, and New Zealand’s slightly smaller 30 million square kilometer search and rescue region.

RCCNZ and Safety Services Manager, Mike Hill, manages both services, which are located next to each other in Lower Hutt.

“We coordinate search and rescue services nationally for all off-shore marine and aviation incidents, and any coastal and land-based searches involving distress beacons,” Mr Hill said.

“We also monitor VHF channel 16, the international distress channel.”

RCCNZ deals with about 850 incidents a year, with distress beacons involved in about 75 per cent of them, and maritime radio deals with another about 820 incidents.

“If you are heading out on the water, in the air or are in the bush, mountains or are working in an isolated area, always do three things: leave your trip details with a responsible person, check the weather before leaving, and make sure you have appropriate emergency communications equipment,” Mr Hill said.

Distress beacons work everywhere in New Zealand on land and sea, when activated, sending a distress signal to search and rescue satellites.

Marine VHF radio has excellent coverage in coastal waters and is versatile. It can be used for many things, not only making emergency calls.

On the water a cellphone in a waterproof lanyard bag is okay as a back-up but it should not be your main way of keeping in contact. The range is shorter than VHF, you can only call one person at a time, and you might have to somehow use it in the water.

Other communications devices include flares, torches and whistles, all of which can be useful at times but have major limitations.

For safety information for land, snow, water, boating and air activities together in one place go to www.adventuresmart.org.nz.

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