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Welcome to the world of marine communications

The world of marine communications is complex and heavily covered by rules and regulations as well as a complexity of technologies.
Whether you use a marine radio for work or for leisure then I trust you will find these pages of interest to you.


Marine Communications

Radio provides the ability to talk to many stations all at once, meaning the marine radio serves many uses from talking to other ship stations, a marina or even the coastguard.

A marine radio is a mandatory requirement for ALL vessels (including pleasure craft) 13.7 metres or over:-
yachtcom
  • If coastal sailing then you are required to have a marine VHF radio.
  • If off-shore or ocean sailing then you are required to have a marine MF/HF (SSB) radio.
  • Further details from the RYA web site 13.7m regs Class XII Exemption.pdf

"a maritime radio capable of transmitting and receiving,
appropriate to the area of operation"

With over one thousand ships, boats and yachts monitoring digital selective calling (DSC) MF, HF and VHF radio at any one time, marine radio is still by far the best way for summoning help and assistance.

The marine radio is essential for receiving weather broadcasts as well as maritime safety information (MSI).
A modern marine transceiver includes Digital Selective Calling (DSC) which can be used for inter-ship, urgency and distress calling.

Do consider help and assistance is more likely to come from other
yachts or ships within the vicinity of a vessel requiring assistance.





Communications Types and Distance

  • Wifi in the marina marine radio
    • 50 to 100 metres
  • Mobile phone - depending on coverage
    • usually poor coverage out at sea:-
      • phone calls 5 to 20 miles from base station
      • 3G/4G data 5 to 10 miles from base station
  • Marine VHF radio
    • Provides voice communications to ships and coastguard
    • limited range - line of sight Yacht communications
      • up to 20 miles to a ship
      • up to 50 miles to shore
  • AM/FM Broadcast Radio
    • up to 50 miles on FM
    • maybe 200 miles on AM
  • Satellite technology
    • provides point to point communications
    • Satellite data costs are around 1000 times more than 3G/4G
  • MF/HF (SSB) Radio
    • works anywhere - global coverage.
    • Provides flexible communications Sailing Rallies
      • Distress & Safety communications
      • Yachtsmen Nets
      • News and entertainment
      • Weather broadcasts (voice, weatherfax, text)
      • Email
        • No air time costs
      • low running costs
    • May be required for some Off-Shore racing



Looking for marine HF (SSB) transceivers!
Icom marine SSB Radio
http://www.sailcom.co.uk/transceivers

Phone: 01489 565100
Overseas: 00 44 1489 565 100
Email Address - click here!


Marine Radio Legal Requirements

Marine Radio Legal Requirements

yachtcomEach country has its own regulatory authority, here in the UK it is the responsibility of the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) and OFCOM. These notes are for UK registered ships and are only meant as a guide. For non UK registered ships should check with the country of registration.

There are 3 regulations that have to be considered, these are:
  1. The mandatory fitting of radio communication equipment.
  2. A ship's radio licence.
  3. A radio operator's certificate of competence.

Mandatory fitting of radio communication equipment
Depending on the size of the boat will depend whether or not it is mandatory to fit radio equipment.
Here in the UK all ships (yachts, boats etc.) are covered by the Merchant Shipping Regulations.
For ships less than 13.7 metres (45 feet) only have to comply with SOLAS V regulations.

Ships 13.7 metres and over are covered by the Merchant Shipping Regulations which say that "a maritime radio capable of transmitting and receiving, appropriate to the area of operation".
Therefore ships of 13.7 metres and over, should have a VHF radio and if off-shore sailing an MF & HF (SSB) radio.

You can download a file from the RYA web site 13.7m regs Class XII Exemption.pdf which covers leisure craft of 13.7 metres and over.

It is also worthwhile visiting the RYA page 'Equipment for Pleasure Vessels'.

Ships Radio Licence
It is an internationally agreed legal requirement to have a ship's radio licence. On the ship's radio licence you will find the ship's international callsign and, if requested, 9 digit MMSI number.

Callsigns and MMSI numbers are internationally allocated. If you know the vessel name, callsign or MMSI number you can find the vessel particulars at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) web site.
Radio Operator's Certificate of Competence
The person resposible for operating the radio should hold a marine radio operator's certificate of competence before using transmitting equipment on marine allocated frequencies or channels.

Here in Europe the types of certificates and the syllabus are set by CEPT, depending on whether the ship is SOLAS or non-SOLAS and the area of operation will depend on which certificate of competence the radio operator requires. There are 4 Certificate of Competence available here in the UK, these are:
  1. Short Range Certificate
    • For non-SOLAS ships operating a marine VHF radio.
    • The is a basic entry certificate, the course and exam is administered by the RYA.
  2. Long Range Certificate
    • For non-SOLAS ships operating a marine MF/HF (SSB), VHF and Inmarsat equipment.
    • Course and exam is administered by the AMERC.
  3. Restricted Operator Certificate
    • For SOLAS ships operating a marine VHF equipment.
    • Course and exam is administered by the AMERC.
  4. General Operator Certificate
    • For SOLAS ships operating a marine MF/HF (SSB), VHF and Inmarsat equipment.
    • Course and exam is administered by the AMERC.

Do consider help and assistance is more likely to come from other
yachts or ships within the vicinity of a vessel requiring assistance.


YachtCom - GMDSS | Global Maritime Distress & Safety System | IMO | Maritime Safety Information | MSI | MRCC

GMDSS: Global Maritime Distress & Safety System

GMDSSThe Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) Handbook, produced by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) defines GMDSS as follows:-
The basic concept of (GMDSS) is that search and rescue authorities ashore, as well as shipping in the immediate vicinity of the ship in distress, will be rapidly alerted to a distress incident so that they can assist in a co-ordinated SAR operation with the minimum delay.

The system also provides for agency and safety communications and the promulgation of Maritime Safety Information (MSI) - navigational and meteorological warnings and forecasts and other urgent safety information to ships.
In other words, every ship is able, irrespective of the area in which it operates, to perform those communication functions which are essential for the safety of the ship itself and of other ships operating in the same area.

GMDSS sea areas serve two purposes:
  1. To describe areas where GMDSS services are available
  2. To define the radio equipment that must be carry.


GMDSS radio course for yachtsmen
All you need to know about marine radio

LRC Radio
http://www.yachtcom.co.uk/lrc

Phone: 01489 565100
Overseas: 00 44 1489 565 100
Email Address - click here!

Benefits of GMDSS

All Distress and Safety communication will be automated and watch keeping on traditional voice and Morse code frequencies become history.
At the press of a button, a ship can send its identity, position and nature of distress by either satellite or terrestrial communication.
It will then be up to a shore based Rescue Co-ordination Centre (RCC) to alert vessels in the area to go to the aid of the casualty.
This co-ordinating role of the RCC is a new one.

Under the SOLAS 1974 system, ships in the area were required to monitor for distress alerts and then respond directly.
The GMDSS now makes this the responsibility of the Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC or Maritime RCC) .

GMDSS also changes the nature of Routine and Safety Radio operation.
These become fully automatic, enabling ship's to deal with all incoming and outgoing ship's radio communication. It is no longer necessary to sail with a specialist radio officer onboard.

Components of GMDSS

Distress button GMDSS consists of several different safety systems based around different communication technologies.
These include:-
  • Digital Selective Calling (DSC)
  • NAVTEX
  • INMARSAT
  • EPIRBs
  • SARTs
  • VHF, MF and HF Communication.

GMDSS Full operation

Full operation of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System came into force on the 1st February 1999.
Under IMO legislation, all passenger vessels had to be fitted with the necessary equipment by 1995, and all vessels over 300grt to be GMDSS equipped by the 1st February deadline.
National administrations are also being encouraged to provide the necessary shore based infrastructure in sufficient time.


Looking for email while off-shore
SailCom Marine can provide both
SSB and satellite email solutions.
off-shore Email account
http://www.sailcom.co.uk/

Phone: 01489 565100
Overseas: 00 44 1489 565 100
Email Address - click here!

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RYA RADAR course for yachtsmen
All you need to know about radar
RYA Radar
http://www.yachtcom.co.uk/ryaradar

Phone: 01489 565100
Overseas: 00 44 1489 565 100
Email Address - click here!

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