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What are the legalities?

Discussion in 'Nautilus Lifeline' started by Chuck Tribolet, Jan 21, 2011.

  1. Nautilus Mike

    Nautilus Mike ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    Thanks! Totally appreciate where you are at on this. Kath has the info and FCC regulations at her fingertips. Unfortunately she is on her way to the dive show in Italy and incommunicado for the next 24 hours. I'll ask her to post the FCC info as soon as she picks up her emails..

    The key thing in our interpretation of the relevant FCC regulations is that the use of a marine vhf radio is restricted to area of operation ie. in the marine environment - but not restricted to actually being used while on a vessel. It's a subtle difference but has a big impact in this particular situation.

    I apologize for my tardy reply to your email. Been concentrating on final manufacturing and QA issues etc. rather than on the marketing and sales side of stuff. Our number 1 goal is to deliver as promised at the end of March with a robust and reliable unit that is properly certificated and works just as promised..

    thanks, Mike
  2. Nautilus Mike

    Nautilus Mike ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    Excerpt from FCC website following. IF you were to use the radio on a vessel that does not fall into the category "voluntary ship", the vessel would have to have a base station radio licence ie. a charter boat > 20 metres. The legal opinion that we are relying on emphasized that these regulations were drafted without consideration that a diver might carry a marine vhf radio while diving. There is no regulation or definition in the FCC regulations prohibiting a diver from doing that nor are divers identified in the discrete category of "ships" required to have a base station licence. No license is required to use the radio in U.S. waters. hope this helps. Mike

    ** excerpt from FCC website

    Who Needs a Ship Station License
    You do not need a license to operate a marine VHF radio, radar, or EPIRBs aboard voluntary ships operating domestically. The term "voluntary ships" refers to ships that are not required by law to carry a radio. Generally, this term applies to recreation or pleasure craft. The term "voluntary ships" does not apply to the following:
    Cargo ships over 300 gross tons navigating in the open sea;
    Ships certified by the U.S. Coast Guard to carry more than 6 passengers for hire in the open sea or tidewaters of the U.S.;
    Power driven ships over 20 meters in length on navigable waterways;
    Ships of more than 100 gross tons certified by the U.S. Coast Guard to carry at least one passenger on navigable waterways;
    Tow boats of more than 7.8 meters in length on navigable waterways; and,
    Uninspected commercial fishing industry vessels required to carry a VHF radio.
    Ships required to carry an Automatic Identification System (AIS) transceiver by the U.S. Coast Guard regulations enacted pursuant to the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2000.
    Ships are considered as operating domestically when they do not travel to foreign ports or do not transmit radio communications to foreign stations. Sailing in international waters is permitted, so long as the previous conditions are met. If you travel to a foreign port (e.g., Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands), a license is required. Additionally, if you travel to a foreign port, you are required to have an operator permit.
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    Radio Equipment You May Use
    You do not need a license to use marine VHF radios, any type of EPIRB, any type of radar, GPS or LORAN receivers, depth finders, CB radio, or amateur radio (an amateur license is required). Ships that use MF/HF single side-band radio, satellite communications, or telegraphy must continue to be licensed by the FCC.

    If you plan to dock in a foreign port (e.g., Canada or the Bahamas) or if you communicate with foreign coast or ship stations, you must have a RESTRICTED RADIOTELEPHONE OPERATOR PERMIT (sometimes referred to by boaters as an "individual license") in addition to your ship radio station license. However, if (1) you 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 operator permit.
    File FCC Forms 159 and 605 with the FCC. You do not need to take a test to obtain this permit. The FCC will mail the permit to you and it will be valid for your lifetime. Don't forget to sign and date your application and include any applicable fees; otherwise it will be dismissed
    NOTE: A ship radio station license authorizes radio equipment aboard a ship, while the restricted radiotelephone operator permit authorizes a specific person to communicate with foreign stations or use certain radio equipment (e.g., MF/HF single sideband radio or satellite radio).
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    Using Hand-Held Marine VHF Radios on Land
    You must have a special license, called a marine utility station license, to operate a hand-held marine radio from land -- a ship station license IS NOT sufficient. You may apply for this license by filing FCC Forms 159 and 605 with the FCC. To be eligible for a marine utility station license, you must generally provide some sort of service to ships or have control over a bridge or waterway. Additionally, you must show a need to communicate using hand-held portable equipment from both a ship and from coast locations. Each unit must be capable of operation while being hand-carried by an individual. The station operates under the rules applicable to ship stations when the unit is aboard a ship, and under the rules applicable to private coast stations when the unit is on land.
    Return To Top
  3. GLynch

    GLynch Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Cape Cod Mass.
    From my review of this equipment and reading some of the posts.

    1. Marine VHF radio FCC licences are not required for any vessel less than 65 feet in length. This considered to be like the standard handheld VHF unit.

    2. FYI, The Nautilus Life Line is equipped with a digital select calling (DSC) feature which is very good. Ths DSC allows your current Lat/Long position from the GPS to be interfaced together. With one push of a button from DCS/VHF radio it will transmit your location (coordinates) and other rinformation to the USCG and to near by vessels. I have a fixed mounted unit on my boat which I registered the DSC part with the Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) organization. I'm not sure who they fall under, the FCC or USCG. My guess is the USCG. The registration is done online and it's free. Go to Boatus.com web site and ther should be link to get you to MMSI. Now the tricky part is filling out the MMSI form. These forms are designed for boats not a person stranded in the water. They ask for your vessel info., type, size, reg. no., boat name and your name, etc.
    They also ask for your cell phone no. that are likely to have on board when cruising. At the completion of the form they assign you with a MMSI #. With this number you enter it into the VHF unit, usually in the set-up menu and set-up is complete. Since the form is geared for boats I don't know if they will issue a MMSI # for an uncompleted form. I may call the mfg to see how this is handled.

    I hope this helps and I think I'm going to buy one. It's a reansonable price. My boat radio costed more than this.

  4. ev780

    ev780 Barracuda

    Well....If you are "swept away" hopefully the FCC will come and arrest you on the spot.

    Just Sayin'
  5. IyaDiver

    IyaDiver Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives:
    Location: Indonesia

    Hi Guys,

    I have the same problem being in a country where DSC can only be registered on bigger vessel. I have a small boat and does not need radio licence for the VHF, hence I did want a radio licence and no way I can get MMSI. Well, in my country DSC won't do me much good anyway since we do not have a national Coast Guard anything close to even 5% of a US Coast Guard in terms of rescue capability or assets.:D

    Actually the Nautilus will be helpful for what I call a local-rescue. I been carring Icom M88 in Underwater Kinetic D8 housing to make it a "Diver Radio" since M88 was first introduced. It is small enough to fit the UK D8. Now I use Icom M72 because it has bigger battery and the antena is rubber flexible, unlike M88 plastic one which will crack in 3+ years when stored U bended in the UK D8 torch housing too long.

    I carry spare Icom M88, M72 and the Horizon HX850 in Aquapac dry bag and hang it on everyone' neck who handle the zodiacs and one for the crew on the mother boat. I do lots of Live on Board dive trips to location no rescue is possible in short notice.

    The very first rescue will be by our own dive boat and that is exactly what I want.
    This is the real use of the Nautilus for most international divers. Unless you do shore diving and get swept to the middle of the ocean, then channel 16 full blast mayday will be good to use. Or if you do diving with your own boat on anchor and everyone dives too and no one on stand by.

    Nautilus or my Icom submersible VHF is like an extension of our sausage surface marker and it is a 2 mile "visible" model:D. I have drifted 3 x these past 5 years up to 2miles and without my Icom, I would either be a statistic or may become news like the 2008 case of a group of British divers drifted for many hours and manage to swim to shore and spend like 2 days fending off Komodo Dragon, because they were diving the Komodo National Park.

    I use channel 69 all the time since its is pleasure channel and hope not to disturb other vessels. Dive boats are visible from 2-3 miles easy, even for a 30 footer boat seen by a diver with only his head popping out of the surface. But our head can't be seen easy from more than 300 meters and a 6 footer 3" sausage float is only visible approx 900 yards for those focusing hard to spot the red or neon green color of the sausage.

    Radio like Nautilus or Icom 1 meter/30 minute submersible is a must have for divers where the water has current. In this day and age, US$299 Nautilus is damn cheap. My Icom M72 and UK D8 torch cost about the same. I mean cheap because our life is worth more than that. I also do not like to trouble national assets for my rescue when I can make it a local one between me and my dive boat.

    In country like USA with fast response US Coast Guard and the high population of private boats , Nautilus will even be better. Legality wise for me even if I do carry this radio when I travel abroad ( I do carry ), and so happened to be rescued by using it and then get fined in the process, I don't care. A fine is sure worth it, better than drifting for days and/or still ended dead in the end. I doubt there will be any jail term for "unauthorized" use of portable low power marine VHF.

    I carry a FastFind 406 Mhz PLB also for worst case scenario but I bought that not because I expect national rescue by my screwed-up Coast Guard equivalent. It is only a mean for my wive and good friend who are my two emergency contacts, to initiate a private rescue and have my cordinate updates provided by COSPAS-SARSAT and it so happened that my country is a member.

    In my screwed-up country, Marine Police or Coast Guard equivalent will demand some sort of compensation for rescue at sea, fuel is expensive...:rofl3:. So whatever technology will bring for easier rescue, is always welcome and a stash US$2,000 equivalent in cash at home for downpayment of "rescue fuel expenses" , that is even better.

    What Nautilus should do next is, if ever the housing can fit FastFind 406Mhz McMurdo or Icom M88, sell the housing alone as accesories. I mean make it as 3rd party 400+ feet waterproof housing

  6. greatlakeswreckdiver

    greatlakeswreckdiver DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Port Townsend, WA United States
    As an ham radio operator myself, I agree with aquaregia. FCC rules basically state that any person can operate a radio in times of distress. I have radios capable of transmitting outside my licensed bands and use them in listen only mode...unless there were a natural disaster requiring use of that communication method (cell towers and local repeaters down). Now take and apply that to marine radio - if I am in the water and drifting out to sea or in a situation where my Zodiac overturned and flooded the engine with no method of reaching land - then it would be considered life and death and same rules would apply allowing use. The marine band is a strange one. Unlike GSRM or CB which is pretty much 100% residential use, marine band is a mix of commercial and general use. Lots of grey area. Of course FCC would like to see every radio be registered and vessels assigned FCC designated call signs, but due to the general use and rules pertaining to non-commercial or smaller vessels not requiring registration, that does not happen. Like IyaDiver says, best to use 69 and try to hail someone and give them the GPS coordinates off the side of the unit (very cool feature might I add) and get help that way before putting out a general MOB hail to the coast guard or other local authority. But - if you do need to send out a general distress signal, I can't imagine any FCC or other authority coming down on a user because they may not be licensed. Honestly - if you were stranded on a deserted island and you only had the marine radio, again...life and death type situation, I can't imagine anyone fining an individual for using the radio. Now sitting at a resort and using a marine radio to call over a dive boat to pick you up - might want to find a different way because that would not be acceptable.

    I think this is a really cool idea and I am seriously thinking about picking one up to carry with me in the Zodiac and for diving when my wife and I go to resorts as an assurance of not getting left behind. Typically I have no fear of being left behind but drift diving in Florida with a group of spear fisherman and lobster hunters...I did get a bit nervous when we surfaced to find the boat about 1/2 mile away. They did see our safety sausages and came over, but what if?......... $300 is a reasonable cost for a lifeline (not to mention a marine radio for the Zodiac, waterproof GPS for recording locations of wrecks, and great conversation piece on the dive boats.)
  7. reefduffer

    reefduffer ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Diego CA
    It's really tempting to appeal to the "If I'm gonna die, screw the FCC rules & fines" idea. But this unit also has a chat mode that appears useful, but may be illegal. And if I've surfaced away from the boat, not yet in deep trouble, and want to use it, I don't want to be weighing the choice of calling and risking a fine, I'd like to know what use is legal.

    The post #11 by nautilusmike has the same FCC website info I mentioned having looked at previously. I still see nothing that allows a diver to be considered a "ship",
    either "voluntary" or not.

    I'm not a lawyer, but saying that the FCC regulations never anticipated use by a diver seems an odd way to justify that use. The issue is not whether you need a license, it's whether the use of the Marine VHF band by a "not-ship" is legal.

    Is it unreasonable to ask the FCC for an interpretation?
    And what about the other jurisdictions where owners would want to use this? Mexico, the various Caribbean islands, etc., etc. Maybe use in Bonaire would be legal but they have no "voluntary ship" clause so I need to buy a license. Should every Nautilus customer have to go figure this out for themselves, hiring lawyers to render opinion on Dutch Antilles radio laws?

    If I'm paying $300 for this, I'd like to know what I'm buying. A possible alternative to drifting at sea until I die of exposure is the obvious minimum. Is it anything more? Can I legally use the chat capabilities? Can I use this when it sure would be comforting to contact the boat but it's not yet clearly life-or-death?

    Why can't Nautilus do the legal research / FCC/gov't agency interaction and clearly spell this out to prospective customers?
    aquaregia likes this.
  8. DeltaWardog

    DeltaWardog Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Castle Rock, CO
    Probably because it would dramatically increase the cost of his product and most likely price him out of the market. Think about what you're asking. You want a small electronics device manufacturer to hire lawyers that can read and interpret law for every country in the world that touches a large body of water.

    As a potential user of this device I'm satisfied to plead my case after I get plucked out of the sea and rushed to a warm, dry courtroom to stand trial. :wink:

    I'm not trying to be antagonistic. To be clear, I see where you're coming from but you will never get anyone to do the research and legal validation you are after. I think this is a case of having to put some faith in the reasonableness of any authority you might have to explain to... after you used it and somehow got caught by a passing bunch of Marine Radio Police. (ok maybe a little antagonistic.) :wink:
  9. covediver

    covediver Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Alaska
    it looks like a good product. i was on the nautilus in december and while they were not available, i did speak with the crew about its features. i guess i will have to dig out my restricted radio telephone operators permit i had when i was 14 to operate CAP radios just to be on the safe side.
  10. Akimbo

    Akimbo Lift to Freedom Volunteer Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    I have a Standard Horizon HX850S handheld DSC VHF radio and the manual indicates that no license is required in the US. It is hard to believe it is not subject to the same rules as the Nautilus Lifeline.

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