Take the search out of search & rescue!
Your VHF radio equipped with Digital Selective Calling (DSC) is the single most important piece of safety equipment you can have on board your vessel.
DSC allows the radio to transfer information digitally, not just by voice, and to instantly send a digital distress alert to the Coast Guard. Part of that alert is a nine-digit Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number that identifies your boat. The MMSI number is a bit like a phone number for your boat, and all DSC capable equipment (including AIS units) associated with the specific vessel should use the same MMSI number, since the MMSI serves to identify the vessel, not the equipment. If you sell your boat, the MMSI number is normally transferred with it.
Without an MMSI, the digital functions on a DSC-equipped VHF radio will not function. The MMSI number must be registered in a database that is relayed to the Coast Guard for use in Search and Rescue. DSC-equipped radios also need to be interfaced with a GPS when they are installed so that your position will be sent with the emergency message in a distress situation.
BoatUS has been authorized by both the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Coast Guard to assign MMSI numbers only to vessels that meet the following criteria:
- Used for recreation only
- Not required by law to carry a radio
- Do not make international voyages or communications
Do NOT Register with BoatUS MMSI if:
- your vessel is required to carry a radio onboard (“Compulsory Equipped”)
- you plan to visit or communicate in a foreign port including Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, and the British Virgin Islands
If either of the above conditions apply, you are legally required to obtain a Ship Station License from the FCC. They will issue an appropriate MMSI with the License.
NOTE: when traveling to foreign ports, you are required to have a Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit holder aboard.