Each compulsory vessel, while underway, must maintain a watch for radiotelephone distress calls on 156.800 MHz whenever such station is not being used for exchanging communications. For GMDSS ships, 156.525 MHz is the calling frequency for distress, safety, and general communications using digital selective calling and the watch on 156.800 MHz is provided so that ships not fitted with DSC will be able to call GMDSS ships, thus providing a link between GMDSS and non-GMDSS compliant ships. The watch on 156.800 MHz is not required:
(a) Where a ship station is operating only with handheld bridge-to-bridge VHF radio equipment under § 80.143(c) of this part; or
(b) For vessels subject to the Bridge-to-Bridge Act and participating in a Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) system when the watch is maintained on both the bridge-to-bridge frequency and a separately assigned VTS frequency.