Sunday, February 17, 2008

Press Release: US Coast Guard Continues HF Weather Broadcasts

Press Release
DATE: February 07, 2008 14:39:41 EST
Office of Public Affairs
U.S. Coast Guard

Contact: (202) 475-3555

US Coast Guard Continues HF Weather Broadcasts

WASHINGTON - Last April the Coast Guard asked for public comment on the need to continue broadcasting high frequency (HF) high seas weather forecasts for single sideband voice, facsimile charts and text messages over radiotelex (e.g. HF NAVTEX). The Coast Guard required public comment because the infrastructure necessary to provide these services had exceeded its life expectancy and significant costs were involved to continue these services.

After reviewing and analyzing the substantial public response that overwhelmingly urged the continuation of these services, the Coast Guard's "business case study" concluded that it was necessary to continue HF weather broadcasts. The business case study, "An Impact Assessment of Discontinuing USCG High-Frequency Radio Broadcasts of NWS Marine Weather Forecasts" is posted at:

The study concluded:

"The responding public collectively perceives that the USCG HF broadcasts are essential to their safety. There is no viable alternative to the USCG HF broadcasts because present alternatives are perceived by the public to be out of financial reach. Also, marine weather forecasts available through these alternative sources may not guarantee the same level of accuracy, timeliness, and/or sufficiency as provided by the USCG HF broadcasts."

While the Coast Guard does not have funds necessary to replace all of its HF transmitters, funds are available to replace the 20 transmitters used for weather broadcasts.


The U.S. Coast Guard is a military, maritime, multi-mission service within the
Department of Homeland Security dedicated to protecting the safety and security of America.


The full report is here. It is very comprehensive and informative, and worth the time to get and read it.


Here's more from USCG Navcen:

The Coast Guard's HF infrastructure

The Coast Guard's HF infrastructure consisting of 123 10KW transmitters are no longer supportable. Repair parts are increasingly difficult to find, more expensive, and take can months to obtain. Funds should be available to replace many, but not all of these transmitters. Consequently all but the most essential HF services are or will be terminated. However, due to responsive received from the public and the conclusions of the business case report, the Coast Guard has decided to continue HF broadcasts of high seas weather forecasts and warnings without interruption. Transmitters used for this purpose will be included among those recapitalized.

The Coast Guard uses 20 high power transmitters to broadcast HF weather facsimile, voice and text (SITOR) high seas weather forecasts to mariners. Three additional Navy transmitters are used to broadcast weather information from Guam. The cost to replace one of these transmitters is ~$200K with installation ($4M total for those used for weather broadcasts).

Reliable, high power transmitters are needed to ensure mariners can reliably receive weather information anywhere within the National Weather Service’s area of responsibility.

[Presumably the services to be affected by the phase-out of the other transmitters include those on this list that are not required by GMDSS or other treaties. More when it happens. -Hugh]