Digital Selective Calling, or DSC, is the equivalent
of a "mayday button" on a VHF or SSB. When activated, it automatically broadcasts an encoded distress call that will be picked up by all nearby vessels equipped with DSC. If the radio is interfaced with a Loran or
GPS, it will also automatically broadcast the
distressed vessel's position.
All fixed-mount radios now include it as a feature, so when the USCG Rescue 21 System becomes fully operational, your VHF will be able to take advantage
of this latest feature. To use DSC, you must obtain a MMSI (Maritime Mobile Service Identity) number. To
find out when and where DSC and Rescue 21 will be fully implemented and functional, click here.
You may do so free of charge at this web address: (click on link or copy and paste into your web browser). http://www.boatus.com/mmsi. Keep in mind that the U.S. Coast Guard is not yet responding to DSC transmissions nationally.
As of October 26, 1996, most recreational boaters are
no longer required to obtain an individual Ship Station License from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). However, boaters still need a VHF Ship Station License in the following categories:
Those traveling to or broadcasting in a foreign port must also obtain a Restricted Radiotelephone Operator's Permit (RP). However, if you (1) merely plan to sail in domestic or international waters without docking in any foreign ports and without communicating with foreign coast stations, and (2) your radio operates only on VHF frequencies, you do not need an RP.
- Those traveling to or broadcasting in a foreign port (including Canada, Bahamas, Caribbean)
- Those with boats 65 feet or longer
- Navigation (vessels to bridges, etc.)
- Those using single sideband radios or
- Commercial vessels
Forms can be obtained from your nearest FCC field office or from the FCC Wireless Communications Division (se below). Call the Gettysburg office to locate your nearest field office, or call the FCC Form Distribution Center at 800-418-FORM (3676).
For More information on FCC rules and regulations, and to download license applications, click on the button to visit the FCC Marine Radio Fact Sheet.