Are you required to install VHF-DSC radio equipment?

On December 15, the US Coast Guard published Marine Safety Bulletin 15-15 entitled VHF-DSC Radio Equipment Installation Requirement for Inspected Passenger and Commercial Fishing Vessels.  We received a number of queries as to the reach of this.

Not later than Jan 20, 2016 inspected passenger vessels that carry more than six passengers, with at least one for hire, and commercial fishing vessels of 300 gross tons and upward, operating the waters off the continental US, must upgrade to VHF-DSC radio equipment.  47 CFR §80.905(a)(1) outlines the required equipment based upon where you operate.

(1)  If you operate ONLY within 20 nautical miles of land (which isnt defined but is assumed to mean the mainland coast and wont include islands):

You MUST have a VHF-DSC radiotelephone installed which meets the requirements of §80.1101(c)(2), which requires the unit conform to either (i) IMO Resolution A.803(19), as amended by IMO Resolution MSC.68(68); (ii) ITU-R M.493-13; or (iii) ITU-R M.541-9.  We assume your radio supplier will be able to recommend equipment which complies with these requirements.

(2) If you operate outside 20 nm; but not more than 100 nm from nearest land:

In addition to the VHF-DSC equipment required under (1); you MUST have a MF-DSC frequency transmitter:

(a) meeting the requirements of § 80.1101(c)(3), which requires the unit conforms to either (i) IMO Resolution A.804(19), as amended by IMO Resolution MSC.68(68); (ii) ITU-R M.493-13; or (iii) ITU-R M.541-9. – AND –

(b) is capable of transmitting J3E emission and a receiver capable of reception of J3E emission within the band 1710 to 2850 kHz

If you operate outside of 100 nm, the requirements are much greater and will only be summarized below.  Each of the requirements has specific elements it must be in compliance with or meet.  A link to the Regulation is provided at the bottom of this post, please refer to the regulation for specific requirements.

(3) If you operate outside 100 nm; but not more than 200 nm from nearest land, in addition to the equipment listed under (1) and (2) above you must have either a DSC-capable single sideband radiotelephone or a INMARSAT unit.  Additionally, you must be equipped with a reserve power supply, a NAVTEX receiver, a qualifying EPIRB and participate in the AMVER system where vessel is navigated in open sea for more than 24 hours.

(4) If you operate outside of 200 nm you will be required to have two of the VHF-DSC radios listed under (1) above and the equipment listed under (2).  Additionally you will be required to have a DSC-capable independent single sideband radiotelephone or INMARSAT unit.  You will also have to be equipped with a reserve power supply, a NAVTEX receiver, a qualifying EPIRB, a automatic radiotelephone alarm signal generator and participate in the AMVER system where vessel is navigated in open sea for more than 24 hours.

Click here for the applicable Federal Regulation – 47 CFR §80.905

 

©  West Coast Fisheries Consultants, LLC

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