USCG HF Broadcasts Uncertainty

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The United States Coastguard requested comments on the usefulness of their HF/SSB broadcasts of voice, Radiuofax and RTTY (SITOR).

The Warning

In early May, 2007 the following message was issued by the US Coast Guard.

"The Coast Guard is requesting public comment on the need to continue providing high frequency (HF) radio broadcasts of weather forecasts and warnings. Public comment is necessary in order to assess the demand for the HF radio broadcasts of weather forecasts in each of three forms:

(1) Radio facsimile;

(2) voice;


(3) Simplex Teletype Over Radio (SITOR), also known as Narrow Band Direct Printing (NBDP).

"The infrastructure necessary to provide these services has exceeded its life expectancy; the equipment is no longer manufactured, repairs are difficult to accomplish, and spare parts generally are not available. Because of the very significant costs involved to continue these specific HF radio services, the Coast Guard requires information on the extent to which these services are used by the public and what alternative services are being used or are available to obtain weather forecasts and warnings."

The message then called for responses from users. These must have had some effect. See the next message below. \\

The following has been received, dated 1 February 2008

"After reviewing the public responses to their query and the conclusions of the business case report prepared on the subject, we have decided to continue those broadcasts without interruption. The report, at, concluded that: "The responding public collectively perceives that the USCG HF broadcasts are essential to their safety. There is no viable alternative to the USCG HF broadcasts because present alternatives are perceived by the public to be out of financial reach. Also, marine weather forecasts available through these alternative sources may not guarantee the same level of accuracy, timeliness, and/or sufficiency as provided by the USCG HF broadcasts. "We still do not have funds necessary to replace all our high power transmitters and some services will have to be cut (mostly our command and control communications), but now have the funds necessary to replace the 20 transmitters used for weather broadcasts. "Good news."

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