Solent VHF Radio

Local VHF Channel Usage


ICOM VHF radiosProper use of the VHF channels is an important safety factor. Channel usage in the Solent and Southampton Water has some differences from that in other areas so we have compiled this guide.  VHF call signs are indicated as e.g. "Solent Coastguard". [printer friendly version (A5)]

N.B. Ensure that your VHF is set to "INT(ernational)" not "US(a)"! Radios operating on USA channel settings will not hear the reply from an NCI Station (on ch.65), from a Marina (on ch.80), or receive the new Marine Safety Information channels (ch.62,63,64). New radios are often set to "US" when bought; use the menus to reset them to "INT".

DISTRESS, SAFETY and Calling Channel

Channel 16 Channel 16: Emergency calls to HM Coastguard ("Solent Coastguard"). Not to be used for routine calls - for routine calls to HMCG call direct on channel 67 (see below). Calling Channel: users must transfer immediately to a working channel (normally 06, 72 or 77)

Solent Coastguard 

VHF ch.62,63,64 Channels 62,63,64: used by the Coastguard for Marine Safety Information (MSI) broadcasts. 63 has replaced ch.23 (Portland and Boniface Down aerials), 64 has replaced 86 (Newhaven, Needles, and Beer Head aerials).
Channel 67 Channel 67: In the Solent area is monitored by the Coastguard ("Solent Coastguard") for routine small boat traffic; call direct, not via channel 16; but for radio checks, to minimize Coastguard workload,  call the nearest NCI station on channel 65 !

National Coastwatch (NCI)

Channel 65 Channel 65: National Coastwatch Institute UK channel - call direct (not via 16) for radio checks, present weather, inshore weather forecast, and local information... 
Call signs... Calshot Tower: "Calshot NCI" - Lee on Solent: "Lee NCI" - Lepe Country Park: "Stone Point NCI" - Portsmouth area: "Gosport NCI" - Needles: "Needles NCI"

Port Operation Channels, Harbour Masters, Local Marinas

Channel 12 Channel 12: "Southampton VTS" (Vessel Traffic Services) - monitor this channel in the Southampton Port area to be aware of ship movements.  In dire emergency (e.g. imminent risk of collision) can be used to contact a ship - then go to a working boat channel (6, 72, or 77).  The Harbour Master's launch "Southampton Patrol" (or "SP") can be contacted on this channel.
Channel 11 Channel 11: "QHM" (Queens Harbour Master) - in charge of ship movements in the Portsmouth Port area; must be contacted by any vessel (including small yachts, and motor cruisers) before crossing the ship channel in the Harbour
Channel 68 Channel 68: River Hamble: "Hamble Harbour Radio" - Harbour Master; "Hamble Patrol" - Harbour Patrol 
Channel 68: "Yarmouth Harbour" - Harbour office and on water Berthing Masters
Channel 68: Beaulieu River: "Beaulieu River Radio" - Harbour Office; "Beaulieu River Patrol" for patrol
Channel 69 Channel 69: "Cowes Harbour Radio" - Harbour Master, Cowes
Channel 66 Channel 66: "Lymington Harbour" - Lymington Harbour Commisioners
Channel 80 Channel 80: Marina working channels (or contact by telephone - see our Marina Contact page)

Intership. Tugs, and Pilots

Channels 08 09 10 71 74 Channels 09 10 71 74: Ship/Tug/Pilot working channels: NOT TO BE USED BY RECREATIONAL CRAFT (for channel 08 see Boat to Boat channels below)

Boat to Boat channels

Channels 06 72 77 Channel 06 72 77: the recognized channels for boat to boat communication - be short and concise! N.B. although channel 08 is also a ship to ship channel smaller vessels are asked to leave it clear in Southampton Water and the Docks for use by Tugs (see the ABP Yachtsmans Guide to Southampton water and its Approaches).

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Currently almost 60 NCI stations are operational and manned by over 2600 volunteers keeping watch around the British Isles from Fleetwood in the North West, through Wales, to the South and East of England to Filey in North Yorkshire. 

NCI watchkeepers provide the eyes and ears along the coast, monitoring radio channels and providing a listening watch in poor visibility. They are trained to deal with emergencies offering a variety of skills and experience, and full training by the NCI ensures that high standards are met.








The words National Coastwatch Institution and Eyes Along the Coast and the NCI logos are Registered Trademarks of NCI.

Contact Details

0300 111 1202
[email protected]


0845 460 1202
[email protected]

17 Dean Street, Liskeard,
Cornwall, PL14 4AB