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  Shore Stations in the VHF Marine Service

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Author Topic:   Shore Stations in the VHF Marine Service
jimh posted 12-17-2013 12:11 AM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
A frequently asked question about the VHF Marine radio service is in regard to operating a shore station. Shore stations must be licensed as described in


§80.13 Station license required.

(a) Except as noted in paragraph (c) of this section, stations in the maritime service must be licensed by the FCC either individually or by fleet.

(b) One ship station license will be granted for operation of all maritime services transmitting equipment on board a vessel. Radiotelegraph and narrow-band directing-printing equipment will not be authorized, however, unless specifically requested by the applicant.

(c) A ship station is licensed by rule and does not need an individual license issued by the FCC if the ship station is not subject to the radio equipment carriage requirements of any statute, treaty or agreement to which the United States is signatory, the ship station does not travel to foreign ports, and the ship station does not make international communications. A ship station licensed by rule is authorized to transmit radio signals using a marine radio operating in the 156-162 MHz band, any type of AIS, any type of EPIRB, and any type of radar installation. All other transmissions must be authorized under a ship station license. Even though an individual license is not required, a ship station licensed by rule must be operated in accordance with all applicable operating requirements, procedures, and technical specifications found in this part.

[61 FR 58010, Nov. 12, 1996, as amended at 62 FR 40304, July 28, 1997; 71 FR 60074, Oct. 12, 2006]

Cf.: http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=& SID=e940ecfd0b7bcf864991d3b7784dff69&n=47y5.0.1.1.1&r=PART&ty=HTML#47:5. 0.1.1.1.2.45.2

Private shore stations are a special class of shore stations. The FCC rules regulate licensing of private shore stations as described below:

Subpart K—Private Coast Stations and Marine Utility Stations

§80.501 Supplemental eligibility requirements.

(a) A private coast station or a marine utility station may be granted only to a person who is:

(1) Regularly engaged in the operation, docking, direction, construction, repair, servicing or management of one or more commercial transport vessels or United States, state or local government vessels; or is

(2) Responsible for the operation, control, maintenance or development of a harbor, port or waterway used by commercial transport vessels; or is

(3) Engaged in furnishing a ship arrival and departure service, and will employ the station only for the purpose of obtaining the information essential to that service; or is

(4) A corporation proposing to furnish a nonprofit radio communication service to its parent corporation, to another subsidiary of the same parent, or to its own subsidiary where the party to be served performs any of the eligibility activities described in this section; or is

(5) A nonprofit corporation or association, organized to furnish a maritime mobile service solely to persons who operate one or more commercial transport vessels; or is

(6) Responsible for the operation of bridges, structures or other installations that area part of, or directly related to, a harbor, port or waterway when the operation of such facilities requires radio communications with vessels for safety or navigation; or is

(7) A person controlling public moorage facilities; or is

(8) A person servicing or supplying vessels other than commercial transport vessels; or is

(9) An organized yacht club with moorage facilities; or is

(10) A nonprofit organization providing noncommercial communications to vessels other than commercial transport vessels.

(b) Each application for station authorization for a private coast station or a marine utility station must be accompanied by a statement indicating eligibility under paragraph (a) of this section.

Cf.: http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=& SID=e940ecfd0b7bcf864991d3b7784dff69&n=47y5.0.1.1.1&r=PART&ty=HTML#47:5. 0.1.1.1.11

jimh posted 12-17-2013 12:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
A corollary question is in regard to use of hand held radios when not on a vessel. Hand held radios are considered to be "associated ship units" in the FCC regulations. The regulations require:

§80.115 Operational conditions for use of associated ship units.

(a) Associated ship units may be operated under a ship station authorization. Use of an associated ship unit is restricted as follows;

(1) It must only be operated on the safety and calling frequency 156.800 MHz or on commercial or noncommercial VHF intership frequencies appropriate to the class of ship station with which it is associated.

(2) Except for safety purposes, it must only be used to communicate with the ship station with which it is associated or with associated ship units of the same ship station. Such associated ship units may not be used from shore.

(3) It must be equipped to transmit on the frequency 156.800 MHz and at least one appropriate intership frequency.

(4) Calling must occur on the frequency 156.800 MHz unless calling and working on an intership frequency has been prearranged.

(5) Power is limited to one watt.

(6) The station must be identified by the call sign of the ship station with which it is associated and an appropriate unit designator.

(b) State or local government vehicles used to tow vessels involved in search and rescue operations are authorized to operate on maritime mobile frequencies as associated ship units. Such operations must be in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section, except that the associated ship unit: May be operated from shore; may use Distress, Safety and Calling, Intership Safety, Liaison, U.S. Coast Guard, or Maritime Control VHF intership frequencies; and may have a transmitter power of 25 watts.

Cf.: http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=& SID=e940ecfd0b7bcf864991d3b7784dff69&n=47y5.0.1.1.1&r=PART&ty=HTML#47:5. 0.1.1.1.3.50.42

The above seems to suggest that a hand held radio associated with a ship is not to be used on shore.

dfmcintyre posted 12-17-2013 03:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
Yeah, it's illegal, there's the law, and then there's reality.
jimh posted 12-18-2013 12:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The regulations of the FCC are not usually enforced in criminal proceedings. In most cases if you are found to be in violation of an FCC regulation you will get a notice of violation from the FCC, and they will probably find you to be liable for a monetary forfeiture. The FCC does not say you did something criminal or illegal, you just did not comply with their regulations.

The only time a federal prosecutor will bring criminal action against you for something you do with a radio transmitter is if you are doing something really stupid, like making a false distress call or intentionally causing interference. There probably _are_ laws against that.

Part 80 explains its statutory basis in

http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=& SID=e940ecfd0b7bcf864991d3b7784dff69&n=47y5.0.1.1.1&r=PART&ty=HTML#47:5. 0.1.1.1.1.44.1

It derives from the Communications Act of 1934 and a few more recent acts of Congress.

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