It is just over a year ago that, thanks to the feedback of the cruising community around the world, the future of HF radio services was saved!
You may recall that the U.S. Coast Guard’s issued a notice dated April 18, 2007, soliciting public comment on the need to continue providing high frequency (HF) radio broadcasts of weather forecasts and warnings via:
(2) voice; and,
(3) Simplex Teletype Over Radio (SITOR)
This was issued by C.S. Johnson, JR.,Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Acting Assistant Commandant for Command, Control, Communications, computers and Information Technology – well that is one powerful CIO job!.
The notice stated that in summary:
“…The Coast Guard is soliciting public comment on the need to continue providing high frequency (HF) radio broadcasts of weather forecasts and warnings. Public comment is necessary in order to assess the demand for the HF radio broadcasts of weather forecasts in each of three forms: (1) Radiofacsimile;(2) voice; and, (3) Simplex Teletype Over Radio (SITOR), also known as Narrow Band Direct Printing (NBDP).
The infrastructure necessary to provide these services has exceeded its life expectancy; the equipment is no longer manufactured, repairs are difficult to accomplish, and spare parts generally are not available. Because of the very significant costs involved to continue these specific HF radio services, the Coast Guard requires information on the extent to which these services are used by the public and what alternative services are being used or are available to obtain weather forecasts and warnings.
Luckily after an outcry the US Coast Guard concluded that:
“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…”
Should we not have a separate mandate for the sailing community that protects it’s interests on a formal basis rather than leave it to the discretion and judgement of professional staff who may have many other challenging objectives and other more powerful stakeholders to satisfy?
What about the US GPS network?…when will that run out of “grace and favour” ?