The Maritime Ship Station class licence authorises maritime ship communications within a specific set of shared frequencies as well as some UHF on-board communications equipment and navigation radars. This page discusses the licence and how it works.
Maritime ship station class licence
The Radiocommunications (Maritime Ship Station - 27 MHz and VHF) Class Licence 2015 (the Maritime Ship Station class licence) authorises the use of maritime ship stations on designated channels in the 27 MHz and VHF maritime bands on a shared basis, as well as certain UHF on-board communications equipment and navigation radars.
Under a class licence, all users share the same spectrum segment and are subject to the same conditions. A class licence governs equipment standards and the frequencies that may be used, and can specify other technical and operational parameters. You do not have to apply for a class licence and no licence fees are payable.
If you wish to use frequencies other than those detailed in the class licence, you must be authorised by a separate apparatus licence. Licence fees apply.
Operators of marine VHF radiocommunications equipment must be qualified in accordance with the requirements of the Maritime Ship Station class licence. The qualifications applicable for the licensed operation of VHF marine radio stations include:
1. Australian Waters Qualification (AWQ) - Applicable for use within 12 nautical miles of the coast.
2. Short Range Operator Certificate of Proficiency;
3. Long Range Operator Certificate of Proficiency;
4. GMDSS General Operator's Certificate of Proficiency (GOCP);
5. GMDSS First-Class Radio Electronic Certificate (1st-Class REC); and
6. GMDSS Second-Class Radio Electronic Certificate (2nd-Class REC).
Conditions of operation
The Maritime Ship Station class licence details specific conditions that govern the operation of all equipment covered by the licence. The provisions of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Act) also apply.
Complying with mandatory standards, and specifications
Your equipment must comply with the relevant mandatory radiocommunications standards, equipment specifications or equipment compliance requirements that are specified in the class licence.
The Maritime Ship Station class licence only authorises operation on or within a range of frequencies in the 27Mhz and VHF maritime bands. Full information is in the Schedules of the class licence.
Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a ship identification and surveillance system that generates digital messages sent from ship stations to provide identification and heading information to other ship or coast stations. You can only operate on the frequencies 161.975 MHz and 162.025 MHz for AIS purposes.
The use of INMARSAT satellite frequencies is authorised under the Radiocommunications (Communication with Space Object) Class Licence 2015. The use of Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) is authorised under the Radiocommunications (Emergency Locating Devices) Class Licence 2016.Transmitter power levels
Your equipment must not exceed the maximum power specified in the schedules of the class licence.
Breaches of licence conditions
Users of class licensed devices must comply with all conditions in the class licence. Subsection 132(3) of the Act states:
'Operation of a radio-communications device is not authorised by a class licence if it is not in accordance with the conditions of the licence.'
If you breach any condition of the class licence (for example, operating on a frequency not mentioned in the class licence) you are no longer authorised under the class licence and may be liable for prosecution.
Under class licensing arrangements, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) does not issue call signs to individual users. You should use any relevant call signs associated with the vessel or other appropriate means of identification when transmitting.
Further information about identification is in the Marine Radio Operator's Handbook issued by the Australian Maritime College.
Ships travelling overseas
Under International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Radio Regulations, administrations may inspect a ship's radiocommunications licence and the qualifications of radio operators. If your vessel is travelling into international waters, the ACMA recommends carrying a copy of the Maritime Ship Station class licence on board the vessel.
If you have any additional queries relating to the Maritime Ship Station class licence, please contact Licence Issue and Allocations, ACMA.