VHF Marine Radio Operators Australian Handbook

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This softcover Marine VHF Radio Operators Handbook is the official learner’s guide for those skippers and crew who are intending to operate or sit for their VHF Short Range Operators Certificate examination (SROCP).

If you only have a 27Mhz radio, then this course handbook is ideal to learn and understand the procedures of operating a radio without having to sit for the examination as no certificate is needed.

The SROCP handbook contains extracts from the LROCP handbook and includes a sample range of possible examination questions:

  •     VHF Channels in Australian Marine Waters
  •     Major Parts of a VHF Marine Radio
  •     VHF Repeater Stations
  •     Limited Coast Stations – “Who’s Listening”
  •     Operator Requirements
  •     Operating Procedures
  •     Authority and responsibilities of the Master or Skipper
  •     Watch Keeping
  •     Secrecy of Communications
  •     Log Keeping
  •     Phonetic Alphabet – Alpha, Bravo, Charlie…….
  •     Routine Calling Procedures
  •     Distress Calling
    •     Mayday, Mayday, Mayday
    •     Securite, Securite, Securite
  •     Digital Selective Calling – DSC
  •     EPIRBS (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons)
  •     Search and Rescue Transponders (SART)
  •     Marine Batteries

Also supplied will be 144 sample examination questions, answers and page reference number to help those who require independent learning.


Why Do I Need A Certificate Of Proficiency?

A marine radio is a useless piece of equipment unless you know how to use it properly. By obtaining a Certificate of Proficiency you will obtain the knowledge that can help you save lives.

A Certificate of Proficiency gives you the skills that are essential for the confident and responsible use of a marine radio. You learn what to do when you need to respond to an emergency call and how to make an emergency call that can be understood and responded to appropriately if you ever become endangered at sea.

Marine radio communications can also provide a variety of services to small vessels, including weather and navigational information as well as other services important to those at sea. The more you and your crew on board know about marine radios the more you will all benefit from its use.

The Marine Short Range Operators VHF Certificate of Proficiency, commonly known as the SOVCP is the certificate required to legally operate a Marine VHF Radio while on inland waterways or at sea within Australia.

The Marine Long RangeRadio Operators Certificate of Proficiency, commonly known as the LROCP is the certificate required to legally operate a Marine VHF MF/HF Radio while on inland waterways or at sea.

If your marine radio is Digital Selective Calling (DSC) capable, then you will need to obtain the certificate to apply for a DSC Maritime Mobile Service Identification (MMSI) number.

The SROCP and LROCP Certificates are awarded to candidates once they have passed an examination. Preparing for the examination can be done two ways. You can choose to prepare through independent study or by attending a course offered by a training provider.

Contact your local volunteer Marine Rescue group in your area, as many offer the service to members and the general public.

Should you choose to study independently for your SROCP or LROCP examination you will need to obtain a current edition of the Marine Radio Operators Handbook as a study tool (see below). The exam questions are based on the material contained in the handbook. Once you have studied the handbook and feel that you are ready to be examined, you must contact an Invigilator in your area and arrange a suitable time, date and place to sit the examination. A list of Invigilators is accessible via the website

Should you choose to attend a course to help you prepare for your SROCP or LROCP examination, you will need to make enquiries about training courses available in your area. Training courses vary in scope and cost so do your homework before committing to any particular course. For example will there be an OMC registered Invigilator conducting the examination at the completion of the course? Are the costs of the handbook and examination marking included in the course fee?

The Marine Radio Operators Handbook will assist candidates for all operators certificates to study for their examinations. The handbook includes recommended syllabi for each of the certificates and icons throughout the book indicate relevant areas of study for each qualification.
All examinations are supervised by OMC registered invigilators.


Who is the Office of Maritime Communications?

The Office of Maritime Communications is the only body in Australia that can award marine radio qualifications. The office is part of the Australian Maritime College, Australia's national centre for maritime training, education and research.

Do I need a license for the 27Mhz or VHF radio?
Individual licences are not required for 27 MHz or VHF marine radio transceivers but the operator of a VHF Marine Radio does require a Certificate of Proficiency (LROCP). Because 27 MHz and VHF marine radios are now class licensed, official call signs are no-longer issued. However, operators are still required to identify their vessels at the beginning of each series of transmissions.

Does the MF/HF marine radio require a license?
Yes, the apparatus needs to be licensed and the operator requires a Certificate of Proficiency. When the apparatus is licensed a call sign will be issues by the ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority).

How often do I have to update my Marine Radio Operator’s Certificate?
Marine Radio Operator's Certificates are issued for life and do not need renewing

Who is an Invigilator?
An Invigilator is a person whom is certified to supervise examinations. A list of Invigilators is accessible via the website

If a candidate fails can they re-sit the exam?
Yes, a candidate may re-sit the examination as many times as it takes to gain the Certificate of Proficiency. Each time the candidate must pay the current processing fee and submit a photo.

However, after the second or third attempt the candidate or Invigilator should query the circumstances and reassess the situation. Would the VHF certificate be more appropriate or should a special examination be considered?

Can the holder of an Amateur or Aviation Radio License receive exemptions for the Marine Radio Certification?
No, amateur and aviation radio certificates are not valid for marine radio operations. These operators must successfully gain their Marine Radio Certification.

Does a candidate have to attend a training course?
Not for the SROCP or LROCP, however there is nothing better than to attend a face-to-face classroom presentation by an experienced marine rescue trainer. They will offer a vast knowledge base of real life experiences and applications for the use of your marine radio. Another advantage in attending is to have the opportunity to broadcast a transmission. (low power, classroom environment). The more practise you have, the confident you will become in using the marine radio.
For all certificates, candidates should obtain a copy of the Marine Radio Operators Handbook (MROH) for either the SROCP or LROCP study stream. The handbook is a very useful study guide for all examinations and should be carried on board the vessel for future reference by you or your crew.

Is my overseas marine radio qualification valid in Australia?
Australia recognises other countries marine qualifications that are issued according to International Telecommunication Union (ITU) recommendations. Submit a copy of your qualification to ACMA, if you have any doubts.

What is the type of examination do I need to complete?
The examination is a closed book, and no communications other than with the invigilator or no aides are allowed;
The examination duration is 30 Minutes for the SROCP, 25 question multi choice answers;
The examination duration is 60 Minutes for the LROCP, 50 question multi choice answers;
There is only one correct answer of the four suggested answers offered, so take your time to read all the questions first;
Then consider the four options for the ‘best fit’;
Attempt all the questions as any question not answered will be marked as incorrect;
To pass, you must obtain 70%, or higher.

What if I don’t have a certificate and I need to use the marine radio in an Emergency?
The Radiocommunications Act 1992, Part 3.1, section 49 allows any person in possession of a marine radio, if they have a reasonable belief, that the operation was necessary for the purpose of:
Securing the safety of a vessel that was in danger; or
Dealing with an emergency involving a serious threat to the environment; or
Dealing with an emergency involving risk of death of, or injury to, persons; or
Dealing with an emergency involving risk of substantial loss of, or substantial damage to, property

After you have read the handbook and shared it with your mates and family, you should all be able to demonstrate:

A practical knowledge of the equipment appropriate to vessels operating in Australian waters. Specifically, VHF radiotelephony equipment with digital selective calling (DSC) facilities, and emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRB) of the 406 MHz type.

An ability to use VHF radiotelephony and digital selective calling (DSC) operating procedures, particularly those relating to distress, urgency and safety.

An understanding of simple maintenance practices required to keep the marine radio equipment in good working order, including the repair of minor faults.

An understanding of the regulations applicable to ship stations equipped with VHF radiotelephony and digital selective calling facilities.

A basic knowledge of the Australian marine search and rescue system.



  • 5
    marine vhf handbook

    Posted by Grant Walsh on Oct 20, 2020

    top book very useful reading

  • 5
    great handbook

    Posted by weyman on Apr 23, 2017

    Good information, everthing you need to know to sit vhf radio licence.

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