Your New Feature-Packed VHF Radio

Digital Selective Calling (DSC), Automatic Identification System (ASI) and Maritime Mobile Service Identities (MMSI) are now a part of your VHF radio’s expanded capabilities. How can you make the most of this new tech?


In the ever-evolving realm of maritime communication, Digital Selective Calling (DSC) and Automatic Identification System (AIS) have emerged as game-changers within the latest models of fixed-base, moderately priced VHF radios.

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  1. My 2003 Jeanneau came with a VHF radio that had DSC capability. I have used this boat all along the east coast of the US, across the Atlantic, and in NW Europe for 6 years. The only time I have ever had DSC connections was once when the French douane wanted us to stop for an inspection (we did) and when we clipped the corner of an otherwise empty traffic separation scheme and were called about it from the French traffic controllers.

    We also have AIS, which displays on our chart plotter. It is very valuable, and I would not go to sea without it any more.

    But I still don’t know what I am supposed to do when the DSC alarm goes off, because it has only done so twice in 17 years, and the instruction manual is a magnificent jumble of words about buttons with small letters on them. In addition, the VHF is supposed to be able to transmit my position, using a GPS supplier, but I have never found any GPS that successfully talks to the VHF.

    In summary, AIS is very useful, DSC is useless.