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ContinuousWave: Small Boat Electrical
Improper Use of VHF Marine Radio Results in Criminal Prosecution
|Author||Topic: Improper Use of VHF Marine Radio Results in Criminal Prosecution|
posted 08-03-2006 09:18 AM ET (US)
Many recreational boaters have VHF Marine Radio transmitters. Use of these transmitters is regulated by the FCC. Improper use of such a transmitter can lead to criminal prosecution. The U.S. Coast Guard recently received two false transmissions claiming to be from vessels in distress and needing assistance. Investigation into the source of these transmissions located the individual responsible, and a federal criminal prosecution was begun. The individual responsible has enter a plea and has been sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay over $82,000 in restitution for the costs of the search efforts made in response to his false transmissions.
posted 08-03-2006 04:46 PM ET (US)
Good on them.
It sounds like that prosecution was justified, for sure.
posted 08-03-2006 05:25 PM ET (US)
Some years ago, I bought a sailboat with a VHF already installed. The mic. clip was positioned so that if it were incorrectly clipped, it could key the mic. aginst a bulkhead.
I discovered this on a nice Saturday afternoon, as some friends and I were sitting in the cockpit, drinking beer, recalling our younger years of women, booze, and general fun times.
You guessed it, a Sheriff patrol with a VHF locator came cruising in and yelled that our VHF was keyed.
"It couldn't be us" I replied, as
"IT COULDN'T BE US" was broadcast from the Sheriff's loudspeaker.
Oops! I felt terrible that we had unknowingly broadcast on channel 16, a distress channel. The Sheriff came aboard, gave us a well deserved lecture, and decided not to issue a citation. He said it was the best time he ever had locating a VHF transmission.
It amazed me that he was able to track us down so quickly, and efficiently. Apparently, the location mechanism can track a constant transmission to within a few hundred feet.
posted 08-05-2006 12:47 PM ET (US)
A lot of boaters are unaware of the stiff fines that are levied for VHF malfeasance. Some of this ignorance dates back to when the FCC dropped the licensing requirement for a VHF aboard a private pleasure boat (in order to encourage that most boats would have one). It is too easy to buy A VHF and plug it in without reading the rules.
Some of the more common things they can get you for is improper use of the various channels, use of the radio for chatter or other non-essential maritime communication. And a big one (big fine and easy for them to detect) is using a VHF from a land station (marinas and such places need a special license to operate a VHF from a fixed shore base).
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