Those who want to conquer the seas outside of their own territorial waters, are wise to do so with the necessary communication equipment and a ship station licence.
For example : the ship station licence, as issued in the Netherlands, consists of :
- Call sign number
- Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number
- Automatic Transmitter Identification System (ATIS) number
What is a MMSI?
The MMSI number is a radio frequency number consistent of nine digits in total. The MMSI number is programmed in communication devices such as EPIRBs fitted with an AIS transmitter, search & rescue transponders, etc. The MMSI number is a unique number through which a ship can be identified when the communication devices transmits a beacon distress signal. On basis of the MMSI number search parties have access to information such as type of ship, length, colours, number of masts, etc. through which they can recognise the ship when on the look-out in response to the distress signal.
In the Netherlands the issuing body of the ship station licence is the Telecom Agency, a department of the Dutch Ministry of Economicalaffairs. They are authorised to only issue ship station licences to yachts that either primarily sail the Dutch territorial waters or boats that have a registration certificate. If all goes smoothly and well, the ship station are issued within 24 hours after application, followed by a conformation in writing, which is sent through good old fashioned snail mail.
One must realise that applying and having a ship station licence does bare serious responsibility which should not be underestimated. When misused or abused, considerable fines can be issued and have to be paid by the owner of the boat. This proves to say that when on- or off-board, always make sure radio equipment can not be misused by unauthorised guests or personnel as the financial consequences could be of a serious proportions.