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MSA Acts Swiftly On VHF Coverage



The Maritime Safety Authority has reinstated the Paparoa South maritime distress and safety radio channel VHF 16 on the South Island's West Coast, following problems with coverage in the area.

Channel 16, used specifically for calling and distress messages, went back on air yesterday. The "working channel" 68, used for navigation warnings and weather forecasts, will go live in two weeks.

On June 3 the station, which was considered to provide coverage in an area already served by two other stations, was closed down so that its equipment could be used to provide a new maritime radio station at Kaikoura.

The MSA had called for feedback from VHF radio users in the month prior to the station being closed, both over the air and in Marine Notices. It was not anticipated from desk studies that a coverage problem would arise.

"Despite there being an overlap in VHF marine Radio coverage in the area (from the station at Paparoa North and the station at Westland) the signal strength is below our standards in certain places," said the MSA's Manager of Safety Services, Howard Walker.

"We were alerted to this following the removal of the station on June 3. As soon as the problem was confirmed we arranged for Hokitika Coastguard (Channel 63) to maintain a 24 hour watch for emergency broadcasts and to broadcast maritime weather reports, while we reinstated the Paparoa South station.

"I would like to thank the members of the maritime community who drew this to our attention so promptly. While the circumstances were both unfortunate and unexpected I trust that our rapid response demonstrates the MSA's commitment to maintaining this essential safety link for all on the West Coast."




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