Divers have a particular dependence upon the VHF Radio as their activities – be it wreck diving, drift diving or even shore diving, often put them a significant distance from shore and in areas of poor mobile phone coverage.
Being able to contact the Coastguard in the event of a diver suffering decompression illness or a diver missing after a dive is of paramount importance and the primary piece of life-saving equipment for this is the VHF Radio.
Waterproof and reliable at greater ranges than a mobile phone signal at sea, incorporating instantaneous communication with the Coastguard or other vessels is possible with a VHF Radio.
Having a VHF Radio on-board and knowing how to operate it has multiple uses to the safe and experienced Dive Manager:
- Safety checks with shore side cover
- Informing the Coastguard of your dive plan/getting information on the available of hyperbaric chambers
- Communication with a lifeboat/other vessel services in the event of an emergency
- Communication with a helicopter in the event of a diver being airlifted to a hyperbaric chamber
- Receiving the latest marine weather forecasts
- Assistance in navigation if becoming lost at sea
- Communicating and co-ordinating with other dive vessels for drop-off and pick-up of divers
- Receiving VHF Radio traffic that may relate to ship movement
- Contacting other vessels in the area to advise them of dive operations
- Depending on technology available, tracking and pick-up of divers in the water
- Receiving radio-medical advice facilitated by the Coastguard from the hyperbaric chamber
Owning a VHF Radio and having the competence to operate it is both a vital piece of equipment and a safety critical skill to have when conducting diving around the British coast. You cannot legally operate a VHF Radio at sea without an SRC (Short Range VHF Radio Certificate), proving you are trained to operate this simple but essential piece of maritime equipment. You would also require a licence for the set itself from Ofcom if used in the United Kingdom.