CG Group Radio Stations and the VHF National Distress System
As part of the National Distress System, the Coast Guard operates approximately 48 Sector field offices, Section and Activity offices, whose responsibility include listening for distress calls over VHF maritime channel 16.
The Coast Guard also operates high seas communication stations used to communicate with ships throughout the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean and provide a variety of services to the maritime public. Services include watchkeeping for distress and safety calls, and maritime safety information broadcasts. Six transmit and receive facilities are remoted to Communications Command (COMMCOM) at Chesapeake VA. Watchkeeping at the Communications Station in Kodiak AK is performed locally. High frequency (HF) high seas communications facilities are located at Guam, Kodiak AK, Honolulu HI, Point Reyes CA, New Orleans LA, Chesapeake VA, Miami FL, and Boston. COMMCOM has a toll-free telephone number for mariners to use when asking about safety services. Their toll-free number is 1-800-742-8519.
Global Maritime Distress & Safety System
Coast Guard group stations, communications stations, and cutters are currently being fitted with the Global Maritime Distress & Safety System, developed by the International Maritime Organization as the new standard telecommunications architecture for ships.