Ship to Shore Radio Communications

Written by susan presley
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Ship to Shore Radio Communications
Ships use radio communication with shore-based receiving stations. (ship image by Terry Duchene from

A ship-to-shore radio communication is a wireless message sent from an offshore vessel to a receiving station on land. This type of messaging replaced Morse code and is used for both basic and emergent communication.


In the late 1800s, ship-to-shore radio messages originated in England. The first U.S. use was on August 23, 1899. It was military-related, and the message said "Sherman is sighted," in reference to a troopship. The message was sent to a coastal receiving station in San Francisco, California.


When workers on a boat are in need of medical assistance, ship-to-shore radio communication can be used as a health care aid. Emergencies involving trauma and workers with acute or chronic illnesses may result in the offshore employee being evacuated from the vessel. Ship-to-shore radio communication has also been used to transfer x-ray and electrocardiogram images.


Ship-to-shore radio transmissions are considered electronic communications by the U.S. Congress. The messages are considered readily available to the public and are exempt from government surveillance acts, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

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