The U.S. Coast Guard has been reporting sporadic marine radio outages throughout Southeast Alaska and Southcentral Alaska through this past spring and into this winter.

Currently, the Coast Guard is unable to receive VHF communications at Duke Island, south of Metlakatla; and Sukkwan Island south of Hydaburg on Prince of Wales Island.

In total, about 11 of the approximately 34 coastal VHF transmission sites are down throughout Alaska, according to a Coast Guard press release Wednesday.

The Coast Guard is recommending “extra caution” in these areas.

"Repairs are ongoing, but due to extreme weather and remote locations, intermittent outages are expected to continue," according to the press release.

The VHF channel 16 is the hailing and distress frequency, which mariners typically monitor, according to Ketchikan Port and Harbors Department Director Steve Corporon.

Corporon says that there's always been certain areas that are dead zones, but the down transmitters are shaking that up.

"What used to be some known holes are moving around," said Corporon.

Corporon, who has worked as Port and Harbors director for about a decade after a career in the Coast Guard, said, "To have this many down is kind of an anomaly."

He said more than anything, it's a reminder for other mariners to relay a message if they don't hear a Coast Guard response.

Even if all VHF systems are running smooth, the Coast Guard says it cannot hear all VHF calls in all areas, so mariners should have another way to communicate.

Jerry Dzugan, executive director of the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association, said boaters can use flares, satellite phones, and an E-PIRB — an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon that automatically sends distress signals out when it comes in contact with water. Cellphones can help, but are not always reliable, according to Dzugan.

Dzugan said the Alaska congressional delegation already knows about the issues. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has said she is aware of the VHF issue in a previous press statement.

The Coast Guard had plans to get eight transmitters working by the end of this month, however, given the weather, it might not be feasible, according to Dzugan. He said a lot of the issues are power generator related.

"The Coast Guard has been working with the contractors that we have in place to take care of those things," said Chief Petty Officer Matthew Schofield, a public affairs officer with the 17th Coast Guard District in Juneau.

"But with some of these, the remoteness of the location, the extreme weather conditions," said Schofield, "there's still going to be some intermittent outages that we're expecting."

The contractor responsible for maintenance was Lynxnet LLC, a Virginia based subsidiary of NANA Regional Corporation Inc. of Kotzebue.

The contract lapsed last month, and the Coast Guard signed an $8.5 million contract with Silver Mountain Construction LLC., according to the federal procurement data system.

Silver Mountain Construction, based in Palmer, has since been bought by North Wind Inc., based in Idaho. Both are subsidiaries of Cook Inlet Region Inc.

The Coast Guard is asking all boaters to "carefully evaluate" their ability to assisted distressed mariners, and to rely any heard distress calls to the Coast Guard.

Other areas with spotty transmission include Northern Shelikof Straight and Southern Cook Inlet.

Specifically, transmitters are down at three areas between Kodiak and Homer, including Bede Mountain, Raspberry Island, and Cape Gull.

Cape Fanshaw, north of Petersburg, is affected, as is Duffield, north of Sitka.

Althorp Peak, north of Pelican and areas around Deception Hills, in the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, are also affected. Transmitters at Robert Baron, across from Douglas Island, and Point Pigot near Whitter are also down.

The following phone numbers can be used to reach the Coast Guard in emergencies.

• Sector Juneau Command Center: 907-463-2980

• Sector Anchorage Command Center: 907-428-4100

• 17th District command center: 907-463-2000