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FCC Issues “Enforcement Advisory” on Marine Radio Rules

05/10/2016

The FCC has issued an “Enforcement Advisory” aimed at vessel owners with marine radios on board.

“Many of these radios are capable of sending automated messages that the US Coast Guard and other search and rescue authorities rely on to locate vessels in distress,” the FCC advisory said.

“Therefore, it is critical for owners of vessels with certain ship radios to comply with FCC rules requiring accurate information in these automated messages.”

These include the Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number, a unique nine-digit number assigned to vessels with to ship radios equipped with Digital Selective Calling (DSC) or Automatic Identification System (AIS). Search and rescue authorities, including the Coast Guard, use the MMSI to learn background information about a vessel in distress and to determine whether the alert is false.

“An accurate MMSI database helps to protect lives and property at sea by reducing the time needed to locate vessels in distress.  However, the use of an unauthorized MMSI can seriously compromise search and rescue efforts, including misdirecting search and rescue forces and alerting the wrong emergency contacts,” the advisory said. “The Coast Guard estimates that approximately 10,000 vessels’ MMSIs are inaccurate on any given day.”



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