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Dilemma: FCC and MMSI rules Jeopardize Safety

Discussion in 'Ask All Sailors' started by PGIJon, Apr 16, 2017. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. PGIJon

    PGIJon

    Joined Mar 3, 2012
    781 posts, 26 likes
    Hunter 34
    US Punta Gorda
    OK so here is my dilemma
    I purchased 2 Standard Horizon Handheld HX870’s with DSC.
    http://www.standardhorizon.com/inde...73FCD911FF7D468A2E1&DivisionID=3&isArchived=0

    I ordered them to ensure that if someone goes overboard that they can press the DSC Distress which will not only summon help but will show up on my MFD (Raymarine e7) as an emergency with coordinates that will allow me to find the MOB in any condition.

    According to the Coast Guard it is impossible to register with the FCC the device using the approved 9 digit format for a handheld. https://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=mtMmsi Here is their interim suggestion: “In the interim, VHF handhelds used in the United States should use the MMSI assigned to the ship to which the handheld is primarily associated, even if another radio on that ship uses the same MMS”

    Here’s the problem, I spoke with Standard Horizon and they indicated that if the handhelds share the same MMSI as the primarily associated ship’s Fixed VHF, that not one of the other Fixed or Handheld will respond to the distress call.

    Obviously the prudent thing is fort the FCC to adopt the new Hand held ruling and issue handheld MMSI’s properly. The other thing would be for the Standard Horizon and other manufactures offer a software switch that allows for their radio to respond to a distress from the same MMSI if that was not the radio that sent out the distress call.

    In the interim it appears that I have only 1 choice that allows for the handhelds to be recognized when the Distress Button is activated and that is to register each handheld as a separate ship. Am I missing something?

    Thanks -Jon
     


  2. Kings Gambit

    Kings Gambit

    Joined Jul 27, 2011
    2,128 posts, 256 likes
    Bavaria 38E
    US Ventura Harbor
    Are you saying that if the Distress button of the hand-held is pushed, then the ship's fixed VHF or any other hand-held with the same MMSI number will not sound off and give location data, but all others of different MMSI numbers will?
     


  3. PGIJon

    PGIJon

    Joined Mar 3, 2012
    781 posts, 26 likes
    Hunter 34
    US Punta Gorda
    Yes, that is what Standard Horizon Tech Support told me. I haven't spoken with any of the other manufacturers, so I can't say how their units respond. -Jon
     


  4. Mark Maulden

    Mark Maulden

    Joined Jan 25, 2011
    1,301 posts, 54 likes
    S2 11.0A
    US Anacortes, WA
    With a quick read of the link, can you register it as a man overboard device? Or just register the dinghy....
     


  5. Brian D

    Brian D Moderator

    Joined Feb 17, 2006
    3,320 posts, 243 likes
    Lancer 27PS
    US Oceanside, Ca MCB Camp Pendleton, Ca KF6BL
    Or what if you get a BoatUS MMSI and assign it to the handheld? I like the MOB assignment better because in essence, that is what it is being used for.

    Thinking of how the MMSI works, I do not believe it goes through any repeaters or land based stations. It is received by any receiver that can hear it. So if the MOB presses the DSC button, you will probably be the only one to receive it. But at the same time, when the CG gets the DSC alert, they broadcast the vessel specifics and location. Not sure if it will work as you want.

    I need to read up more on this.
     


  6. Richard19068

    Richard19068

    Joined Jun 11, 2004
    579 posts, 10 likes
    Oday 31
    US Redondo Beach
    Is this a new rule? I have that same radio, for the same purpose you intend, and registered it for my kayak. You can explain the usage in the section regarding description of the vessel. Is there a problem with that?
     


  7. Skipper

    Skipper

    Joined Oct 9, 2008
    1,232 posts, 120 likes
    Bristol 29.9
    US Dana Point
    The rules don't jeopardize safety. Your use of inadequate MOB equipment might, however.
    If it doesn't work as a MOB locator, don't use it for that. Use a MOB locator. Or, use a RDF, or practice/train crew to use VHF to indicate their position relative to the boat. Plus strobes or lights, mirrors, whistles, etc carried in life jackets.

    There is a long list of approved/known MOB gear. I don't think VHF with DSC/GPS as a MOB Locator is on it. I may be wrong.
    Check any racing club website.
     


  8. Jackdaw

    Jackdaw

    Joined Nov 8, 2010
    6,766 posts, 959 likes
    Beneteau First 36.7 & 260
    US Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
    The issue is the the FCC only issues SHIPS radiotelephone licenses.

    Get an MMSI from BoatUS or the power squad for your handheld. 1000s of handhelds are used WITHOUT a dedicated 'host ship'. That advice is ridiculous for boaters in US waters.

    EDIT PS - read the whole thing. It agrees.
    Non-commercial users of VHF handhelds not primarily associated with any single ship may use an MMSI provided by an organization such as BOAT US, SEA TOW and U.S. Power Squadron (see above). VHF handhelds should not be used ashore absent FCC or NTIA authorization allowing such use.
     


  9. Jackdaw

    Jackdaw

    Joined Nov 8, 2010
    6,766 posts, 959 likes
    Beneteau First 36.7 & 260
    US Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
    Nothing about this jeopardizes safety, and is SOP on lots of racing boats.
     


  10. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    2,461 posts, 431 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    When I bought my SH 870 I heard from support that it would work with my ship station . So set my SH ship unit up with FCC License. Used the MMSI for the ship on bothe radios. Guess I need to test these or contact SH Monday AM.
     


  11. Jackdaw

    Jackdaw

    Joined Nov 8, 2010
    6,766 posts, 959 likes
    Beneteau First 36.7 & 260
    US Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
    The DSC alert from the VHF contains the MMSI, the Lat/long, the emergency code. ANY DSC radio in range can 'hear' it. If a radio that has the same MMSI hears it but does not act due to it having the same MMSI, that is a software issue, probably for a good reason we don't understand. (Or seemed so at the time!). I'm figuring it's because large ships (for whom the rules
    Was written for) can have multiple handhelds on board, and in general they do NOT want a ship's mayday to light up all the handhelds.


    Also, Nobody sends the the 'vessel specifics' via DSC. Those are looked up from the database when the call comes in to the emergency center. If you get the DSC call on your radio, you have to wait for the ch16 mayday for the details.
     


    Last edited: Apr 16, 2017
  12. billyt14607

    billyt14607

    Joined Dec 10, 2012
    12 posts, 1 likes
    Hunter 33.5
    US Rochester, NY
    I think assuming that a handheld VHF radio will improve individual crew safety is a misnomer. The range on a handheld is less than the horizon (sometimes much less, like if you are at water level when there are rough seas). So the idea that the Coast Guard or anyone not already close by will hear it is misguided. They are really not much use beyond signaling others in the middle of a club race or some other boat that is also close by. If you want to send out a distress call then buy them individual PLB's (Personal Locater Beacons) that each can wear on their life jackets and activate as needed, it automatically contacts a central center that will repeat the alerts to the authorities. They are a satellite based type system similar to an EPIRB and they cost around $250 each but with no subscription fee except the nominal registration fee the Coast Guard charges for them. We have one on our boat that I also will take with me if I crew on a long distance race. In addition to our fixed Standard Horizon VHF radio with built in GPS for the DSC and it came with an AIS receiver that I have it linked to our chartplotter too. Happy Sailing !
     


    Last edited: Apr 17, 2017
    stuartsw likes this.
  13. jack silver

    jack silver

    Joined Dec 2, 2015
    10 posts, 2 likes
    hunter 466
    us marina del rey ca marina del rey
    I bought a boat with the radio installed. How can I find out if it is registered or how do I re register with updated info?
     


    My Mistress likes this.
  14. Jackdaw

    Jackdaw

    Joined Nov 8, 2010
    6,766 posts, 959 likes
    Beneteau First 36.7 & 260
    US Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
    It depends. I agree to pick the best tool(s) for the job.

    On Lake Superior the water is very cold (40F year round). Your ONLY rescue is going to come from nearby boats. They CANNOT hear EPIRBs and PLBs. You will die of hypothermia while your device happily talks to satellites. The best solutions in this case will be VHF-based solutions, either handhelds (ideally with GPS and DSC) or dedicated MOB solutions like the rescueME AIS module. And the line-of-site range to a masttop antenna is quite good.

    https://www.spinlock.co.uk/en/categories/lifejackets/product_groups/ais-mob1

    For boat, life-raft, or solo solutions, sat systems for sure.
     


  15. billyt14607

    billyt14607

    Joined Dec 10, 2012
    12 posts, 1 likes
    Hunter 33.5
    US Rochester, NY
    Hi Jack, I did the same thing with our boat. The previous owner gave me "his" MMSI number he had already used with the boat, so I was able to go on the Boat US website and update the information. If you can't get that information I believe you can set up your own MMSI number using the radio registration number. Also keep in mind if you get a new radio you need to update that to your MMSI number also.
     


  16. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    2,461 posts, 431 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    Jack. Check the radio manual, either on the packet you got from the previous owner or the manufacturers website. It will tell you how to program if has the feature. If the radio has DSC you may have an MMSI.

    If not then contact BoatsUS or the FCC to get an MMSI. You will then follow the radio manual to program the MMSI in the radio.

    If already programmed you need to send radio to manufacturer to get the radio reset so a new MMSI can be programmed.

    If FCC provided the MMSI you can see if they will modify the data associated with the MMSI number. i.e. Boat name, owner, etc.
     


  17. billyt14607

    billyt14607

    Joined Dec 10, 2012
    12 posts, 1 likes
    Hunter 33.5
    US Rochester, NY
    Hi Jackdaw,
    I'm in Lake Ontario and our water is mid-40's until about July too and we do nite time race crossings to Canada (40-50 miles) and day time holiday crossings. I'm not saying a handheld might not help (i'll often carry one in race situations). But unless the boat is within a few hundred yards of you already, I doubt they will receive your signal. Remember VHF works on line of sight only, if you are in the water with 4' waves, you have no line of site to any boat. Even at 6' up (like standing in a cockpit) the range will only be a mile or two unless the water is flat calm.
    Check out a USPS radio communications class sometime, a handheld VHF in the water is not something you can count on for anything but the immediate vicinity around your position.
    Thanks, Bill T
     


  18. PGIJon

    PGIJon

    Joined Mar 3, 2012
    781 posts, 26 likes
    Hunter 34
    US Punta Gorda
    Actually the idea to use the handheld came from the rescueME site. The MOB1 actual has integrated DSC in their device. http://oceansignal.com/products/mob1/ So I don't really understand why several are against using the HandHeld DSC enabled VHF as a MOB Device. As Jackdraw points out in many places the only chance of survival is if a nearby vessel can respond.

    Edit: Check out the site: http://www.vwlowen.co.uk/java/horizon.htm for VHF line of site. If you put in 1 foot as the handheld and 50 feet (my mast height) you get an 11 mile line of site. However since this is 6 watts, according to the owners manual the expected distance should be over 5 miles "line of site." Which may allow for several vessels to pick up the transmission. In any case it would be within the distance of my vessel and show up on my MFD with location information.

    -Jon
     


    Last edited: Apr 17, 2017
  19. billyt14607

    billyt14607

    Joined Dec 10, 2012
    12 posts, 1 likes
    Hunter 33.5
    US Rochester, NY
    Jon,
    I'm not "against" the idea of a handheld VHF radio, just want you to keep in mind that except in the best of conditions your range with it will be so limited that in most cases you will not be able to contact anyone that isn't already on scene. Radios just don't work that way.
     


  20. roriol

    roriol

    Joined Mar 7, 2012
    3 posts, 0 likes
    Hunter 466
    US Rhode Island Barrington, RI
    Jack, If your MMSI ends in "0" then it was assigned by the FCC. Otherwise, it was assigned by one of the free services. Not a complete answer, but a place to start. The FCC does have a search function, google FCC Ship License Search. This search is only for FCC issued licenses.
     


    Last edited: Apr 17, 2017

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