Evaluation of Marine VHF Radios: Compliance to IEC Receiver Standards

Report ID: 
TR 99-363
October 01, 1999

Mariners in the United States and other countries are experiencing interference on channels allocated to the above functions. The Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services (RTCM) established Special Committee 117 to investigate the interference and determine if the International Electrotechnical (IEC) standard 1097-7 “Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS)-Part 7: Shipborne VHF Radiotelephone Transmitter and Receiver-Operational and Performance Requirements, Methods of Testing and Required Test Results” would be sufficient to protect marine VHF radios from interference. In support of this effort, NTIA, in coordination with the Coast Guard and RTCM SC-117, undertook a task to test nine commercial and recreational grade marine VHF radios to the IEC standard and perform radiated tests in areas where severe cases of interference are occurring. Laboratory testing of the radios to the IEC standard was performed in Boulder, Colorado. The radiated tests were performed in Savannah, Georgia on the Savannah River and on the Mississippi River in New Orleans, Louisiana. Mariners in both locations have been reporting cases of severe interference in the marine VHF band on the waterways for quite some time now. Some of the channels experiencing the interference are key channels used for safety and bridge-to-bridge communications. The interference is very disruptive to normal operations on the river and is distracting to the radio operators.