Mayday calls are made in dire emergencies when there is a distress situation.

Distress is defined as:

Grave and imminent danger to person vessel vehicle or aircraft.

This means that the situation is threatening to life and that it is happening now.

An example of a Mayday situation would be that a vessels engine has broken down and it is being pushed towards a rocky shore.

In this example there is a imminent risk.

A non Mayday situation would be that a vessels engine has broken down but it is bobbing around safely while it waits for a tow.

Mayday calls


M – Mayday x3

I – Identifier = Name, MMSI Number & Call Sign

P – Position

D – Distress, nature of

A – Assistance required – Immediate

N – Number of people on board

I – Information relevant to situation

O – Over

An incredible piece of acting from Noel – the school principal.

Note:- An MMSI number is a unique identifying number programmed into a radio set. These will be explained further on your course.

Example Distress Call Transcript

Take a look at the below distress call and see if you can follow the MIPDANIO structure

Mayday, Mayday, Mayday

This is Soggy Bottom, Soggy Bottom, Soggy Bottom

MMSI 232 576 983, Call Sign 3A67D

Mayday Soggy Bottom, MMSI 232 576 983, Call Sign 3A67D

Our position is 50°24’.35N 001°36’.78W

We have hit an obstruction and we are sinking.

Require immediate assistance.

We have four people on board.

Abandoning to life raft.


Distress calls and the VHF radio exam

There are two parts to the VHF radio exam which need to be passed so that you can get your radio licence.

These are a written paper and a practical assessment.

In order to pass you need to be able to write the format of a distress call and demonstrate this by writing an example. The example is made up from information you will be given.

You will also have to carry out Mayday calls during the day and also practically in the exam. Make sure to learn all the information on this page before you come along to your course with us.