MariTEL, "The Marine Telephone Company" has announced that all vessels in or near New York/New Jersey and Baltimore Harbors can utilize the company's "Marine Operator" VHF marine telephone service to make calls to home, update relatives, call operations centers, or for any other purpose.
The call is both for ship-to-shore calls as well as shore-to-ship calls, which can originate from any US area code. This "Free Five-Minute Call" offer will stay in effect until Wednesday, September 26, 2001.
The USCG issued emergency regulations earlier today affecting closures of New York/New Jersey Harbor, Baltimore and the Potomac River that restrict most vessel movements.
"We realize that New York City has experienced cellular and telephone network operational difficulties, which could be preventing commercial crews or recreational mariners from contacting loved ones or making alternate arrangements," said Mitchell Hauser, President and CEO. MariTEL. "And from the shore side, those on land need to be able to contact a vessel potentially delayed by this tragedy. By offering another way to reliably make these calls, we hope the marine community can get back to business as normal as quickly as possible."
Mariners who want to make a "Free Five-Minute Call" should key their VHF radio's microphone button for six seconds on the channel listed below, and follow the prompts.
New York/New Jersey Harbor: ch. 28 (Staten Island); Baltimore Harbor: ch. 25 and ch. 26
Those on shore who want to call a vessel in the affected areas may dial 1-888-MARINE2 (627-4632) or 800-955-9025 with the vessel's name and general location to request the "Free Five-Minute Call".
Calls can be made to any vessel within range of the Staten Island or Baltimore Harbor channel frequencies.
Due to the system's capacity, all calls are limited to five minutes.