New policy for issuing MMSI numbers to portable VHF DSC ship radio equipment
Press Release - 15 March 2001
The Radiocommunications Agency has introduced new procedures for issuing Maritime Mobile Service Identification (MMSI) numbers. This has been done to facilitate the use of portable VHF digital selective calling (DSC) radio equipment that may be used on any vessel.
For the purposes of ship radio licensing, the term "portable" includes both transportable and handportable radio equipment.
The introduction of portable VHF DSC equipment represents a major development in the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS). This new equipment allows owners of vessels that cannot be fitted with a fixed radio to take advantage of the added safety which GMDSS offers to mariners. The Agency recognises this as an important step forward and has introduced this new licensing policy to support the new equipment.
Each piece of VHF DSC portable radio equipment will be allocated with its own MMSI number, regardless of whether an MMSI number has already been allocated to the vessel for use with fixed radio equipment. The new MMSI numbers will begin with 2359…. and these numbers will be allocated only to this type of equipment. VHF DSC portable radios are currently approved only for use on UK vessels within UK territorial waters. Other European administrations are still deliberating on how to deal with this type of equipment. However users may note that Article S 4.9 of the ITU Radio Regulations states " No provision of these Regulations prevents the use by a station in distress or by a station providing assistance to it, of any means of radio communication at its disposal to attract attention, make known the condition and location of the station in distress, and obtain or provide assistance".
As these "portable" MMSIs are allocated to individual radios (rather than being allocated to vessels, as in the case of fixed DSC radio equipment), it is essential that when such radios change hands, the Radio Licensing Centre at Bristol is advised of the new owner’s details. Failure to do this could lead to the effectiveness of any Search and Rescue activity being compromised.
These procedures have been introduced after consultation with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. They will ensure that in the event of a distress situation HM Coastguard is able to distinguish between DSC alerts sent from fixed radios and portable radios, thereby deploying its resources effectively.
Notes for editors:
Press Enquiries: 020 7211 0500
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Radiocommunications Agency website: www.radio.gov.uk
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