The USCG has issues two marine safety alerts this week that affect the global, commercial shipping community.
The first is in regards to gangways and pilot ladders and comes after a vessel pilot died during a boarding when the gangway separated from the vessel. Two individuals fell in the water, and one, the pilot, died as a result of his injuries. The incident occurred in along the southern coast of Texas in an area under the jurisdiction of USCG Sector Corpus Christi. The investigation is still ongoing as to what caused the gangway to separate from the vessel. Read the full safety alert here: USCG Safety Alert 14-18 – Gangways and Pilot Ladders.
The second alert is in response to reports from mariners, owners, operators, inspectors, and others in the maritime community regarding poor reception on VHF frequencies used for radiotelephone, digital selective calling, and automatic identification systems (AIS) when in the vicinity of light-emitting diode (LED) lighting on board ships. Examples of these lights may include navigation lights, searchlights, floodlights, and regular interior and exterior lights. The interference has, in at least one case, prevented a rescue coordination center in one port from being able to contact a ship in a traffic separation scheme incident via VHF radio. The USCG is urging mariners to test the interference by following the series of steps below. If the noise floor is found to have been raised as a result of the test, then it is likely the vessel is experiencing interference from LED lighting. Any vessel experiencing this interference is encouraged to contact their Administration and Classification Society. Read the full safety alert here: USCG Safety Alert 13-18 – LED Lighting.
1. Turn off LED light(s).
2. Tune the VHF radio to a quiet channel (e.g,. Channel 13).
3. Adjust the VHF radio’s squelch control until the radio outputs audio noise.
4. Re-adjust the VHF radio’s squelch control until the audio noise is quiet, only slightly above the noise threshold.
5. Turn on the LED light(s). If the radio now outputs audio noise, then the LED lights have raised the noise floor. (Noise floor is generally the amount of interfering signals / static received beyond the specific signal or channel being monitored.)
6. If the radio does not output audio noise, then the LED lights have not raised the noise floor.