May-Day and Pan-Pan Calls

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          Transmit a May Day distress call only when imminent danger threatens life or property and immediate assistance is required. Transmit a Pan-Pan ("Pahn Pahn") urgency call when the safety of a person or vessel is in jeopardy, but the danger is not life threatening. Transmission of a Pan Pan follows the same format as given for a May Day below.


  1. Review radio manuals (VHF and SSB) for transmission of distress signals using their GMDSS features.
  2. Tape the instructions beside each radio.
  3. Do a radio check on an appropriate frequency.
  4. Review operation of the EPIRB.
  5. Test the EPIRB.
  6. Charge the hand-held VHF.



  1. Transmit May Day on the SSB and the VHF while you still have power.
  2. Transmit using the emergency buttons of each radio according to the manual instructions.
  3. Transmit May Day on Channel 16 as follows:
    • May Day, May Day, May Day
    • This is 'Vessel Name' repeated three times, followed by Ship Station License callsign
    • May Day
    • 'Vessel Name' is at Position (Lat and Long), or distance and bearing from landmark
    • We are (describe nature of emergency)
    • We require (describe nature of assistance needed)
    • Aboard are (describe number of people, age and condition if relevent)
    • We have (describe safety equipment)
    • 'Vessel Name' is (description: length, sail/power, design type, hull color, trim color)
    • Over
  4. If there is no response after a few moments, repeat the above message.


[If you have transmitted a May Day or Pan Pan, and later find you no longer need assistance, you must cancel it.]

  1. May Day
  2. Hello all stations, hello all stations, hello all stations
  3. This is 'Vessel Name' and callsign
  4. The time is .......
  5. Seelonce Feenee (to cancel May Day) or Cancel Pan Pan
  6. Out


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This page was last modified on:
August 9, 2009