Two-Way Radios for boats are Essential Tools for Towboats and Barges

barge_marinetransportationConstant danger is the traveling companion of anyone who works on towboats and barge crews.

In the winter, heavy ice can block the channel. In the spring, heavy rains create flooding and treacherous currents. In the summer, pleasure boaters dart in and out of the main river channels, requiring perpetual diligence from towboat crews. All year round, the risk of accidents, falls and snapped cables requires the ability to immediately sound an alert or summon help from a pilot house that might be up to a thousand feet away.

The best way to communicate instantly and effectively across distance is with two-way radios. While today’s boats often have the latest technology including GPS and onboard computers, one thing hasn’t changed: many times a crew member has to stand at the leading edge of the barge collection and communicate with somebody in the pilot house.

Durable and reliable two-way radios for boats make it all possible.

Key issues for two-way radios for boats and barges

Marine vessels communicate on designated channels, so all radios for towboat crews need to be able to communicate on these channels. Portable radios built for specific industries share a lot of common features with radios built specifically for use on navigable waterways. Here’s a look at what you’ll find in the most beneficial marine radios:

Icom Radio Underwater

  • Waterproof and dust resistant. The best radios have a sealed case that can keep water out up to 30 minutes at a three-meter depth. These radios do not actually operate underwater, but they can survive a dunking in shallow water. Dust resistance is crucial on barges that carry grain, which tends to produce immense quantities of dust particles.


  • Emergency alerts. A marine radio should include an alert button the user can push the instant an emergency crops up. The top manufacturers also offer a “man down” feature that can detect when a radio has been dropped at a specific angle and sound an alarm if it remains at that angle for longer than a set period of time.


To select from a broad line of marine and land-based radios, look for a manufacturer such as Icom America.

Icom IC-F1000 VHF / F2000 UHF are excellent models for durability, slim/lightweight design and moisture-resistance.

Making the shift to digital radiosF1000_F2000

Digital communications are the wave of the future, and any towboat company that’s buying new radios should consider these key digital advantages:


  • Longer battery life — Digital transmissions require less energy than analog, which helps radios stay powered up longer. This can be a huge help to boat crews working all-day shifts.


  • Improved sound quality — Digital radios  translate voice signals into packets of digital data and can tune out the sound of wind, engines and other background noise.


  • Internet connectivity and telemetry — Another advantage of digital data packets is they can be transmitted over the Internet, so a single digital radio can communicate with people around the world. Digital radios also can transmit data such as river levels and engine performance, and they can be programmed to control equipment like running lights and surveillance equipment.

Towboat crews face the challenges of industrial workers everywhere: They need to stay safe and connected to the world beyond their workplace. Two-way radios are a key tool for helping  to make that happen.

BearCom has the industry expertise required to recommend and provide two-way radios for nearly any use. Call on us to help you find the solution you need to be successful. Contact BearCom at: 800.527.1670.

About BearCom

BearCom provides a broad line of high-performance wireless communications products, services, and complete mobility solutions. Founded in 1981, BearCom is America’s only nationwide dealer and integrator of wireless communications equipment, serves customers from 29 branch offices located throughout the U.S., and employs approximately 360 people. BearCom is headquartered in the Dallas, Texas area.

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