VHF, with 300 euros and online exam you use the red key

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VHF SRC examination to press the red key
You can take the GMDSS SRC course and exam that qualify you to operate the shipboard VHF-DSC completely online, and press the red button.

 

The GMDSS SRC exam qualifies to operate the VHF DSC. We followed completely online the process of obtaining the certificate issued by the ministry, which is mandatory to use VHF-DSC in recreation, authorizing us to press the famous red button. Here is a brief explanation of what a VHF DSC is, when and why the certificate with exam is needed, who was approached for the online course, and what questions were asked by the committee, timing and cost.

WHEN RTF CERTIFICATE IS ENOUGH WITHOUT EXAMS, VHF IN VOICE

For voice-only VHF, which is mandatory beyond 6 miles, no exam is needed. A limited RTF Radio Telephonist certificate is sufficient. It is obtained by applying to the ministerial inspectorate of the relevant region, and is issued without examination by paying relevant fees. As a reminder, every VHF radio device (even portables!) on recreational boats or watercraft must have its own operating license, which expires every 10 years. It is obtained by submitting equipment approval certificates to the ministry.

WHEN IS THE GMDSS SRC CERTIFICATE NEEDED WITH THE EXAM?

The GMDSS SRC exam enables the GMDSS VHF DSC enables the SRC certificate to be obtained that qualifies one to use the shipboard VHF, not only in voice, but also in digital, to make routine and distress calls, including, press the red distress button. One can immediately recognize if one’s VHF is of the DSC type because it has the “red distress button” covered by a flap, and as soon as the radio is turned on, the vessel’s MMSI and GPS position appear on the display.

WHAT THEY ASK ON THE GMDSS SRC EXAM FOR VHF-DSC

The exam lasts about an hour, includes a test of Maritime English and phonetic alphabet, theoretical questions on the GMDSS system, and a practical test on the use of VHF DSC with DSC calls and in voice through the simulator. For example, it is required to operate the VHF to make routine calls or handle a Distress Relay, or make a Safety call, or cancel a distress, according to the protocol.

WHAT ARE SRC EXAM QUESTIONS?

GMDSS SRC exam theory questions cover mandatory shipboard equipment, radio regulations particularly Appendix 18, operation of VHF DSC, EPIRB Radioboa, Radar Transponder and AIS Transponder, NavTex system and receiver, hints of electromagnetic wave propagation and antennas, the COSPAS-SARSAT system, nods to Inmarsat and HF, related procedures to be carried out in case of distress or abandonment of ship, such as the use of SOLAS Portable VHFs on lifeboats, and EPIRB activation, the ‘use and battery life of the Radar Transponder.

WHY DO THEY ASK FOR A TEST TO PRESS THE RED BUTTON?

The on-board “VHF DSC Class D” radio is a radio device of the GMDSS system, and is a much more sophisticated device than the simple VHF operating in voice-only, such as the portable ones. In the VHF-DSC there are 3 modules: the VHF transceiver is flanked a modem, which can receive and transmit digital data (including MMSI, GPS position, nature of call) and perform automatic operations. There is also a guard receiver in the apparatus, which remains listening on VHF channel 70 DSC. Some equipment to integrate an AIS receiver or transponder.

Through VHF DSC we can digitally contact ships, coastal stations, and especially receive (and send) safety, urgency, and distress calls. In case of distress, our position and nature of mayday is automatically transmitted back to digital. Improper use of the menu, or operating on the wrong channels, especially when receiving a mayday for example, could cause serious interference in rescue operations. The red distress button is just one of the functions of the VHF-DSC and sends an undesigned distress.

WHAT IS THE VALIDITY OF THE GMDSS SRC CERTIFICATE ?
The GMDSS-SRC (Short Range Certificate) is valid globally and does not expire. VHF-DSC is part of GMDSS, which also includes EPIRB, Radar Transponder, Navtex, HF, Inmarsat. Throughout the world, examinations are scheduled to certify the competence of those working on the GMDSS system. For boating, the GMDSS SRC exam qualifies to operate VHF DSC in sea areas under VHF-DSC coastal station coverage, called Area 1. If we were to sail with recreational boat outside the ‘Area1 area, (indicatively but it is wrong to talk about distance, more than 25-50 miles), we will need the LRC certificate, with more extensive examination, as it is also qualified to operate in MF, HF and Inmarsat.

TODAY YOU CAN TAKE THE EXAM ONLINE
Until recently, obtaining the SRC certificate was a real hassle for the yachtsman because it was necessary to travel to Rome to pass the exam; we had talked about this in the article“VHF Scandal.” Today the ministry has equipped itself to conduct the entire exam session online. All you need is a PC or MAC with a webcam and mouse, and the free CiscoWebex software, with which you will also operate on the equipment simulators.

ONLINE COURSE I USED TO PREPARE FOR THE GMDSS-SRC EXAM

I decided to take the GMDSS-SRC course completely online from M.A.R.E. Sas,(I have no sponsorship to say this but I found them excellent). With 14h of the evening online classes, about 1h30 per day, I was able to prepare myself to take the GMDSS-SRC ministerial exam without difficulty. In addition to the lectures, and the printed handbook received in the mail, included in the course was the management of exam booking and preparation of the relevant documents to the ministry. The exam took place online, and upon obtaining eligibility I went to pick up the GMDSS SRC certificate at the regional inspectorate, ready after about ten days. The examination fee is 25.00 euros, plus 32 euros stamps for application and certificate delivery. For the online course I paid 300 euros.

Link to Ministry website for SRC, LRC certificates for recreational boating
https://ispettorati.mise.gov.it/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=135&catid=23

 

Luigi Gallerani

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