Maritime Coast licences - Guidelines | ACMA

Maritime Coast licences - Guidelines

Introduction

This information paper provides details of the licensing arrangements applicable to the maritime coast licence type.

Frequency changes

On 1 January 2004, as a result of changes agreed internationally, use of frequencies 12290 and 16420 kHz for calling purposes is no longer authorised. From that date, those frequencies are reserved for distress, urgency and safety. The alternative frequencies 12359 and 16537 kHz can be used for calling, on a simplex basis, provided that the peak power envelope does not exceed 1 kW.

AIS (also known as 'Automatic Identification System') is a ship identification and surveillance system that generates digital messages sent from ship stations on AIS frequencies to provide identification and heading information to other ship or coast stations.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is co-ordination the licensing of maritime coast stations operating AIS. AMSA holds an Australia-wide licence for 161.975 MHz and 162.025 MHz. Potential operators of AIS in coast stations should contact AMSA in the first instance at:

Operations Manager, AusSAR
Australian Maritime Safety Authority
GPO Box 2181
Canberra ACT 2601
Tel: +61 2 6230 6811
Fax: +61 2 6230 6868
Freecall: 1800 641 792
Fax: 1800 622 153 / 1800 643 586

What is a maritime coast licence?

A maritime coast licence is issued to authorise the operation of one or more stations that:

  • are operated on land principally for transmitting messages to and receiving messages from, a maritime ship station;
  • may communicate with a land mobile station, remotely located land stations and stations on an aircraft that are not an aircraft station; and
  • are operated on maritime frequencies.

The maritime coast licence type is defined in the Radiocommunications (Interpretation) Determination 2015.

Licensing options

Under the maritime coast licence type, five licensing options are available:

  • Major coast A;
  • Major coast B;
  • Limited coast assigned system;
  • Limited coast non assigned; and
  • Limited coast marine rescue:

Major coast A

Major coast A stations are operated on maritime frequencies to provide a range of radiocommunication facilities including weather broadcasts, navigation warnings, and telephone calls to, or from, vessels at sea.

Major coast A stations require individual frequency assignments. Relevant frequencies will be printed on the licence.

Note: Kordia Solutions Pty Ltd provides a watchkeeper service for Digital Selective Calling (DSC) HF communications.

Major coast B

Major coast B stations, in addition to those facilities mentioned in major coast A above, may be used to transmit or receive public correspondence to ships, land mobile stations, remotely located land stations and stations on an aircraft that are not an aircraft station.

Major coast B stations require individual frequency assignments. Relevant frequencies will be printed on the licence.

Limited coast assigned system

The limited coast assigned system enables coast station operators to use one licence to authorise the operation of both their coast station and associated ship stations.

Where an individual frequency assignment is required, a maritime coast licence authorising a limited coast assigned system is issued. Relevant frequencies will be printed on the licence. The limited coast assigned system may only use the assigned frequencies for radiocommunication purposes between the coast station and their vessels.

Limited coast non assigned

Limited coast non assigned stations are used to provide a range of safety-related radiocommunication facilities to vessels for purposes of maritime search and rescue, maritime recreational activities, port operations, professional fishing and other commercial maritime activities.

The frequencies used for the limited coast non assigned licensing option are detailed in the Radiocommunications Licence Conditions (Maritime Coast Licence) Determination 2015

Limited coast marine rescue

Limited coast marine rescue stations are used to provide a maritime emergency radiocommunications service to all vessels. The frequencies used are detailed in the Radiocommunications Licence Conditions (Maritime Coast Licence) Determination 2015.

The operation of radiocommunications equipment authorised by a maritime coast licence is subject to:

  • conditions specified in the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Radcomm Act), including an obligation to comply with the Radcomm Act
  • a condition that any radiocommunication device operated under the licence must comply with all the standards applicable to it
  • conditions specified in any determination made by the ACMA under paragraph 107(1)(f) of the Radcomm Act.
  • conditions specified in the licence and
  • any further conditions imposed by the ACMA under section 111 of the Radcomm Act.

Generally, conditions are applied to licences to enable users to communicate effectively with a minimum of interference. All conditions relating to a licence must be complied with.

Licence conditions determinations

The ACMA may determine, by written instrument, conditions relating to apparatus licences. These conditions are known as Licence Conditions Determinations (LCDs).

The Radiocommunications Licence Condition (Apparatus Licence) Determination 2015 contains licence conditions that are common to all apparatus licences.

The Radiocommunications Licence Conditions (Maritime Coast Licence) Determination 2015 (the Maritime Coast LCD) contains conditions of licence that apply to all maritime coast licences. These conditions include the type of communications permitted, with whom the operator is permitted to communicate, callsign usage and relevant equipment specifications.

An advisory note is automatically attached to licences where an LCD is in force. The note references the applicable LCD.

The licence conditions imposed through the relevant LCD may change from time to time. Licensees should ensure that they have informed themselves of the current conditions imposed by the ACMA.

Special conditions

Any other conditions of operation which apply to an individual licence but are not included in the maritime coast LCD, will be printed on the licence under the heading 'Special Conditions'.

An accredited person may ask the ACMA to impose one or more special conditions on the licence according to the circumstances in which the frequency assignments for the licence are made.

Location of a limited coast non assigned station
It may be necessary for the ACMA to specify the location of a limited coast non assigned station. If that is the case, the following special condition will be attached to the licence:

'The limited coast non assigned station authorised by this licence must only operate at [station location].'

The precise location of the station will be stated on the licence.

Location of a limited coast marine rescue station
It may be necessary for the ACMA to specify the location of a limited coast marine rescue station. If that is the case, the following special condition will be attached to the licence:

'The limited coast marine rescue station authorised by this licence must only operate at [station location].'

The precise location of the station will be stated on the licence.

Operation of a stand-by station
A limited coast assigned system, limited coast non assigned station or a limited coast marine rescue station may employ any number of stand-by stations. Stand-by stations are not supplementary stations and must only be operated when the main station is not operational. Each stand-by station must be individually licensed.

Where the operation of a limited coast marine rescue station involves a stand-by station, the licence for that stand-by station will have a special condition attached. The special condition will describe the conditions under which the stand-by station can be operated, such as, the facility must only be operated under the direction and control of the parent station licensee and then only when the parent station is not in working order.

The precise location of the stand-by station will be stated on the licence.

Other
Technical requirements that previously applied to very high frequency (VHF) international maritime mobile (IMM) service equipment are now included in the Maritime Coast LCD.

Advisory notes

Advisory notes, providing information that may be of interest to a licensee, will be printed on the licence under the heading 'Advisory Notes'.

An accredited person may ask the ACMA to impose one or more advisory notes on the licence according to the circumstances in which the frequency assignments for the licence are made.

Callsigns

The licensee of a maritime coast station must use either a form of identification that clearly identifies the station, or a callsign allocated by the ACMA, at the start of each transmission or series of transmissions.

Callsigns are a unique combination of letters and numbers allocated to a radiocommunications user to identify a station. Callsigns must be used for all on-air communications including testing. Callsigns allocated to maritime coast stations conform with International Telecommunication Union Radio Regulations (see Table 1 for callsign template).

Table 1 - Maritime Coast Callsign Template
aaamnn

Maritime Coast callsign templates (example of typical callsign VKA714)

aaa

first two alpha characters are VJ, VK, VL, VM, VN, VZ, or AX, with the third character being any alpha

m

numeric character 2 - 9

n

numeric character 0 - 9

Duration

Apparatus licences may be issued for periods varying from one day to up to five years. However, the most common period is one year.

Other issues

Operation on frequencies outside the maritime bands

Operation on frequencies outside of the maritime bands is not authorised under a maritime coast licence. For example, operation on land mobile frequencies, whether HF or VHF, is authorised under a land mobile licence.

Operator qualifications

To ensure that maritime coast stations are operated efficiently and effectively, particularly in cases of emergency, operators are required to possess an appropriate Operator's Certificate of Proficiency.

Operators of major coast A stations must possess at least one of the qualifications set out in section 3.5 of the Maritime Coast LCD. Operators of major coast B stations must possess at least one of the qualifications set out in section 4.8 of the Maritime Coast LCD.

Operators of limited coast assigned system, limited coast non assigned and limited coast marine rescue stations using MF/HF marine bands must possess Restricted Radiotelephone Operator's Certificate of Proficiency, a Marine Radio Operator's Certificate of Proficiency, or a certificate deemed to be of an equivalent, or higher, standard.

Operators of limited coast assigned system, limited coast non assigned and limited coast marine rescue stations using VHF must possess a Restricted Radiotelephone Operator's Certificate of Proficiency, a Marine Radio Operator's Certificate of Proficiency, a Marine Radio Operator's VHF Certificate of Proficiency, or a certificate deemed to be of an equivalent, or higher, standard.

Privacy devices

Privacy of communications cannot be guaranteed in any way simply by the choice of frequency. Where the privacy or secrecy of communications is desired, measures may be taken to install voice privacy devices, providing that it does not jeopardise the performance of approved equipment.

Licensees must not use a voice privacy device when transmitting a callsign or other form of station identification.

Operation of VHF international maritime mobile (IMM) repeaters

Repeaters operating on frequencies within the VHF IMM service are licensed under a maritime coast licence authorising the operation of a limited coast assigned system, limited coast non assigned station and limited coast marine rescue station.

The channels in Table 2 have been allocated for repeater operation by limited coast non assigned and limited coast marine rescue stations for the purpose of safety and movement of vessels:

Table 2: VHF IMM Repeaters

Channel

Receiver Frequency (MHz)

Transmitter Frequency (MHz)

21

161.650

157.050

22

161.700

157.100

80

161.625

157.025

81

161.675

157.075

82

161.725

157.125

Exclusion of delayed re-transmission devices from the VHF IMM service

Because of the potential for interference to be caused to safety communications, the use of delayed re-transmission devices in the VHF IMM service is not permitted.

Home bases

The ACMA does not permit operation of a 'home base'. Marine equipment in private residences, including in caravan parks and similar places, will not be authorised.

Applying for an apparatus licence

Applications for an apparatus licence may be made to our Customer Service Centre, ACMA, Canberra. Applicants should complete the appropriate ACMA spectrum form Application. If frequency assignments are required with this licence, the frequency coordination work may be performed either by the ACMA or an accredited person.

If the work is to be done by the ACMA a form Application for additional station information (R077) should also be submitted with the licence application.

Alternatively if you wish to use the services of an accredited person you should refer to the List of Accredited Persons for contact details. An accredited person will issue you with a frequency assignment certificate and this should be submitted with the licence application to our Customer Service Centre. Accredited persons are not employed by the ACMA, nor is the ACMA responsible for the work of accredited persons.

More information about Accreditation can be found on the ACMA website.

Fees

Spectrum is a valuable resource. Fees are intended to ensure a fair return to the Commonwealth for the private use of this valuable public resource. Licence fees are set having regard to spectrum location, geographical location, amount of spectrum occupied and coverage area authorised by the licence.

Detailed information about fees is provided in the Apparatus Licence Fee Schedule booklet.

Licence fee exemptions and concessions

Individuals and organisations may be eligible for an exemption or concession from the payment of licence fees. For further information see Licence Fee Exemptions and Concessions.

Transfers of apparatus licences

Apparatus licences may be transferred. Applicants wishing to transfer an apparatus licence should complete and submit to our Customer Service Centre, the form Application for transfer of apparatus licence(s) (R060). Both the transferer and the transferee must sign the transfer form. Applicants are required to pay a transfer charge to cover the ACMA's administrative expenses.

Note that persons must be qualified operators to operate transmitters under the following maritime coast licensing options:

  • Major coast A;
  • Major coast B;
  • Limited coast assigned system;
  • Limited coast non assigned; and
  • Limited coast marine rescue:

This will be taken into account when transfers of affected maritime coast licences are considered. See the Radiocommunications (Qualified Operators) Determination 2016 for further details.

There are a number of limitations on the transfer of apparatus licences. The Radiocommunications (Limitation of Authorisation of Third Party Users and Transfer of Apparatus Licences) Determination 2015 specifies these limitations.

A device authorised by the transferred licence is still required to operate under the same technical conditions (including transmission site) as specified on the original licence.

Third party operation

Licensees may authorise, by written instrument, other persons to operate radiocommunications devices under the apparatus licences. These are known as third party authorisations.

There are a number of limitations on third party authorisations. The Radiocommunications (Limitation of Authorisation of Third Party Users and Transfer of Apparatus Licences) Determination 2015 specifies these limitations.

A person authorised to use a radiocommunications device under a third party authorisation is subject to all of the conditions applicable to that device under the licence.

Marine radiocommunications watchkeeping

Maritime communication stations

A Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) network, provided in accordance with Australia's obligations under the IMO, consisting of a HF DSC service through the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) which maintains a contract with Kordia Soutions Pty Ltd. The two Kordia stations which are located at Charleville (QLD) and Wiluna (WA) are called Maritime Communication Stations. Maritime Communication Stations provide the following services to vessels:

  • search and rescue (SAR) operations in conjunction with the Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) in Canberra (RCC Australia);
  • continuous automated watch of HF digital selective calling (DSC) frequencies for distress calls relating to safety of life at sea; and
  • weather forecasts and warnings for coastal waters and high seas areas are issued by the Bureau of Meteorology. These are transmitted automatically. The frequencies used for the transmission of these broadcasts are not monitored for other transmissions.

Coast radio stations

HF stations
The States and Northern Territory marine authorities have set up a series of 'Coast Radio' Stations that provide high frequency (HF) aural watchkeeping services. These services are provided through a network of nine HF stations located at Perth, Port Hedland, Darwin, Cairns, Gladstone, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Hobart.

HF radio distress and safety services will be provided by the stations to all coastal areas throughout Australia with coverage extending up to 200 nautical miles seaward. Stations maintain 24 hour listening watches on 4125 kHz, 6215 kHz and 8291 kHz for distress and safety situations. It is important to restrict radio traffic on these frequencies to distress, safety and urgency calls.

The 'Coast Radio' Stations will also broadcast navigation warnings on 8176 kHz.

VHF stations
The States and Northern Territory marine authorities have also set up very high frequency (VHF) stations in certain areas of Australia. These stations provide VHF radio distress and safety services including 24 hour monitoring of VHF Channel 16 for distress, urgency and safety traffic and the regular broadcast of weather information on VHF Channel 67.

Further information

If you have any additional queries relating to this, or any, licence type, please contact Licence Issue and Allocations

Last updated: 02 November 2017