Frequently asked questions regarding the appropriate response to a received DSC distress

April 26, 2013

By Media Team

Digital Selective Calling (DSC): If equipped, all crew shall review the emergency features of DSC, including the response to a DSC Distress Call.

  1. What is a DSC Distress Call?
    • A DSC Distress Call is an electronic MAYDAY activated by pressing the Red Distress
    Button on a DSC configured Radio. Pressing the Red Distress Button sets off an alarm on
    every boat that has a DSC configured radio that can only be turned off manually on each
    boat by silencing the alarm or by acknowledging the Distress Call with a return
  2. Who should be giving an acknowledgement at sea, outside of USCG reception
    range and what is so unique about an Acknowledgement Call?
    • Any vessel in receipt of a distress call has an obligation to render aid. Acknowledging a
    DSC Distress Call is a form of aid, but care should be given not to acknowledge the call
    too quickly, thereby silencing the alarm on all other receiving stations. Best practice is to
    silence your alarm without acknowledging the call, and then monitor the situation to
    determine the need to formally acknowledge the distress call.
  3. Can anyone give an acknowledgement?
    • YES, by following the instructions displayed on their DSC Configured radio
  4. If they do, what responsibility are they assuming?
    • That depends on the specific facts of the situation; see below for a detailed explanation.
  5. Should others be told not to acknowledge a Distress Call?
    • NO. All masters have a duty to render aid if they and their vessel can do so safely;
    see below for a detailed explanation.

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