Friday, March 14, 2008

Radio Regulations

Most recreational vessels under 65.6ft/20m in length do not have to carry a marine radio. Any vessel that carries a marine radio must follow the rules of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Radio Licenses
The FCC does not require operators of recreational vessels to carry a radio or to have an individual license to operate VHF marine radios (with or without digital selective calling capability), EPIRBs, or any type of radar. If you use a VHF marine radio equipped with digital selective calling will need to get a maritime mobile service identity (MMSI) number from the FCC. You cannot use digital selective calling without obtaining this (MMSI) number.

Vessels required to be licensed:
Vessels that use MF/HF single side-band radio, satellite communications, or telegraphy,
Power Driven vessels over 65.6 feet/20 meters in length.
Vessels used for commercial purposes including:
Vessels documented for commercial use, including commercial fishing vessels.
CG inspected vessels carrying more than 6 passengers.
Towboats more than 25.7 feet/7.8 meters in length.
Vessels of more than 100 tons certified to carry at least 1 passenger.
Cargo ships over 300 tons.
Any vessel, including a recreational vessel, on an international voyage.

Radio Listening Watch
Vessels not required to carry a radio (recreational vessels less than 65.6 feet/20 meters in length), but which carry a radio, must maintain a watch on channel 16 (156.800 MHz) whenever the radio is operating and not being used to communicate.

Distress Call Procedures
Make sure radio is on
Select Channel 16
Press/Hold the transmit button
Also give:
Vessel Name and/or Description
Position and/or Location
Nature of Emergency
Number of People on Board
Release transmit button
Wait for 10 seconds – If no response Repeat "MAYDAY" Call.

VHF Marine Radio Channels
The list of channels below is a partial listing of channels recreational boaters should be familiar with:

CH.06 Intership Safety
Used for ship-to-ship safety messages and search messages and ships and aircraft of the Coast Guard.

CH.09 Boater Calling: FCC has established this channel as a supplementary calling channel for recreational boaters in order to relieve congestion on VHF Channel 16.

CH.13, 67 Navigation Safety (Also known as the Bridge-to-Bridge channel): Ships greater than 20 meters in length maintain a listening watch on this channel in US waters. This channel is available to all ships. Messages must be about ship navigation (passing or meeting other ships). You must keep your messages short. Your power output must not be more than one watt. This is also the main working channel at most locks and drawbridges. Channel 67 is for lower Mississippi River only.

CH.16 International Distress, Safety and Calling: Use this channel to get the attention of another station (calling) or in emergencies. Ships required to carry a radio maintain a listening watch on this channel. USCG and most coast stations also maintain a listening watch on this channel.

CH. 21A, 23A, 83A U.S. Coast Guard only

CH. 22A Coast Guard Liaison and Maritime Safety Information Broadcasts: Announcements of urgent marine information broadcasts and storm warnings on Channel 16.

CH. 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 84, 85, 85, 87
Public Correspondence (Marine Operator): Use these channels to call the marine operator at a public station. By contacting a public coast station, you can make and receive calls from telephones on shore. Except for dis-tress calls, public stations usually charge for this service.

CH.70 Digital Selective Calling: Use this channel for distress and safety calling and for general purpose calling using only digital selective calling (DSC).