GMDSS console (file image
courtesy Slawomirs / Creative Commons)
issued a formal enforcement advisory to mariners regarding the setup of their
AIS devices and their radio Digital Selective Calling (DSC) systems.
data in the setup of these two systems can compromise SAR efforts, resulting in
some cases in misdirecting emergency responders and alerting the wrong
emergency contacts, the FCC says.
ships’ particulars, among other information; DSC refers to a format for sending
digital messages via marine band MF/HF and VHF (GMDSS) equipment, including
automatically formatted distress alerts.
Both AIS and DSC include transmission
of a vessel’s MMSI number, which is used as a unique identifier for federal
agencies, including the Coast Guard. The wrong MMSI may lead to false
radio setup, the agency said. First, if an owner decides to get an FCC-issued
MMSI to replace a foreign-issued or agent-issued number, the owner must stop
using the old number.
transferred, records associated with the MMSI (either through private
registration agent or FCC registration) must be updated with the new owner’s
information, including emergency contact.
marine radios must make sure that they are using the correct MMSI – and
must ensure that both parties don’t end up using the same MMSI by mistake.
often using a fabricated MMSI entry. The FCC warns that testing areas must be
licensed, and can obtain their own specific MMSI for the purpose.
security implications – notably in regards to the Coast
Guard’s maritime domain awareness for vessels approaching U.S. ports.
of as much as $16,000 per instance, and may result in confiscation of radio