A yacht in the English Channel, unknowingly broadcasting continuously on VHF Channel 16, effectively jammed all emergency communications in mid Channel and affected the ability of Portland Coastguard, Brixham Coastguard, Solent Coastguard, CROSS Jobourg (France) and Guernsey Coastguard to handle emergency traffic.
The approximate position of the yacht was found from direction finding bearings from both sides of the Channel. After an hour of jamming and attempts to contact the vessel, Portland Coastguard scrambled the Coastguard Helicopter 106 to find the yacht using its on-board direction finding equipment. The helicopter circled the yacht, attracted the skippers attention and eventually was able to make contact to stop him broadcasting on Channel 16.
Nic Lonsdale, Watch Officer at Portland Coastguard says; “It is not only irritating to have the Maritime Distress Channel blocked by what the yacht crew thought was a private conversation but a danger to all other vessels. Eventually we were forced to deploy a helicopter to silence the transmissions. Shortly afterwards a different vessel broadcast a Mayday which would not have been heard had the yacht still been transmitting. All users are urged to be aware of this increasingly common problem. If you cannot hear any radio traffic in a busy area it is probably because you are continuously transmitting.”