Through the new MSIB 20-20, the USCG Inspections and Compliance Directorate informed of how to test a VHF Radio using Rescue 21:

USCG continues to offer an automated Digital Selective Calling (DSC) Test Call capability from each of its Rescue 21 coastal stations. All fixed mount marine radios certified by the Federal Communications Commission since 1999 are required to have a DSC capability. All such radios sold since 2011 must also have a DSC test call capability. Marine radios transmitting and successfully receiving a response from a DSC test call can be expected to operate acceptably in the voice mode as well.

To perform a DSC Test Call, enter the U.S. Coast Guard’s coast station group identity “003669999” into the radio’s DSC memory.

Once entered and stored, a DSC test call can be made by executing the following three steps:

  • Select “Test Call” from the radio’s DSC menu,
  • Select the USCG number entered into memory, and
  • Transmit the call.

The radio display should indicate when that test call is acknowledged and display the acknowledging station’s nine-digit identity. That identity may be different than the group identity previously entered into memory.

Please use VHF Channel 09 and do not use VHF Channel 16. VHF Channel 16 is not for the purpose of radio checks. Please use VHF Channel 09, which has been designated by the FCC as a boater’s calling channel.

See also: Avoiding collisions at sea: Risks arising from the use of VHF, AIS