Marine Rescue Radio operators often have to use the phonetic alphabet to ensure they have accurately heard and recorded a boat’s name, registration, or location.

The phonetic alphabet is used to stop confusion with letters that can sound like each other during radio communications. Many letters sound alike e.g. a B may sound like the letter V or vice-versa, the letter M may sound like N and the letter D may also sound like B.

A boat rego number BVD123N, if not read back phonetically may sound like BBB123M. ‘Bravo Victor Delta 123 November’ is clear and accurate.

The phonetic alphabet is generally a world standard, but is not compulsory in its application. The following is accepted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority and is generally accepted as the standard for marine use.

A Alpha          spoken as       Al Fah              N November   spoken as        No Vem Ber

B Bravo             “                 Brah Voh         O Oscar             “                 Oss Cah

C Charlie            “                 Char Lee          P Papa               “                 Pah Pah

D Delta              “                 Dell Tah           Q Quebec           “                 Keh Beck

E Echo               “                 Eck Oh            R Romeo            “                 Row Me Oh

F Foxtrot            “                Foks Trot        S Sierra              “                 See Air Rah

G Golf                “                 Golf                T Tango             “                 Tang Go

H Hotel              “                 Hoh Tell           U Uniform           “                You Nee Form

I India                “                In Dee Ah        V Victor              “                Vik Tah

J Juliett              “                 Jew Lee Ett     W Whisky            “                Wiss Key

K Kilo                “                  Key Loh          X Xray               “                 Ecks Ray

L Lima               “                  Lee Mah          Y Yankee           “                  Yang Key

M Mike              “                   Mike               Z Zulu                “                 Zoo Loo