Ask Sail: MMSI Numbers

I just purchased an ocean-going sailboat at a foreclosure sale and will soon install an SSB radio and an AIS transponder. The existing VHF radio is tied into the GPS receiver, and there is an existing maritime mobile ship identity (MMSI) number that comes up on the VHF display when I turn it on.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Perry Close Boston, Massachusetts asks:

I just purchased an ocean-going sailboat at a foreclosure sale and will soon install an SSB radio and an AIS transponder. The existing VHF radio is tied into the GPS receiver, and there is an existing maritime mobile ship identity (MMSI) number that comes up on the VHF display when I turn it on. The paperwork on the boat shows that the MMSI number came from one of the towing agencies. May I use this same number for the new SSB and AIS equipment I want to install?

Gordon West Replies

The MMSI number currently assigned to your VHF radio cannot be transferred to you and should be cancelled by the former owner. MMSI numbers issued by towing companies or the Power Squadron are normally intended for use with DSC-VHF radios used in domestic waters. What you need is a ship station license issued by the Federal Communications Commission. This license, good for 10 years, includes an MMSI number that can be programmed into your VHF, SSB and AIS equipment. If you aren’t leaving domestic waters and don’t install an SSB radio, you won’t need an FCC license, but you’ll still need a new number.

You may need an NMEA-certified technician to reset the MMSI number circuit on your VHF radio. Ask the tech to input your new FCC MMSI number into both the VHF and SSB radios. The AIS transponder will come pre-programmed with your new number, after you receive your ship station license. You can study the licensing process at wireless.fcc.gov. You will also need a Restricted Operator permit, unless you previously held one, if you are leaving the country with your radios.

Got a question for our experts? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com

Related

BOOK-REVIEW-Ocean-Sailing-Cover---Bloomsbury-promo

Book Review: Cruising Club of America, Great Lakes Station

Reviewed by Amanda Balasubramanian As we were preparing for our first significant offshore passage in 2013, I read every book on ocean sailing I could find. However, while there were a number of helpful books full of technical information, I also longed for the personal stories ...read more

Henri-Lloyd

Gear: Henri Llloyd Fremantle Gear

Henri Lloyd looked to the past for inspiration when designing its newest line of racing gear—specifically the kit worn by Dennis Conner’s Stars and Stripes campaign (also designed by Henri Lloyd) during the 1987 America’s Cup in Fremantle, Australia. The new collection, with its ...read more

Suggested Crop

Ask Sail: When to Use a Vang Sheet

TO VANG OR NOT TO VANG Q: Last year, I bought a new, fully-battened Dacron main for my 36-footer. Unlike the old one, the new main is loose-footed. I have a mid-boom sheet arrangement and a traditional (non-rigid) vang. Is the vang really doing anything? It seems to me that ...read more

PradaCup-2048x

Video: INEOS UK Advances to the Prada Cup Finals

On Saturday, in what was surely the most exciting race of the series, INEOS Team UK beat Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli to earn a spot in the Prada Cup finals. The race was extraordinarily close, seeing shifty breezes, nine lead changes in just under 30 minutes and boatspeeds topping ...read more

BoatTalk-2048

VIDEO: Sailing Not just for Millionaires

Sailing and boating can come with a hefty price tag, but there are plenty of ways to get on the water without breaking the bank. In this episode of Boat Talk, SAIL's managing editor Lydia Mullan and Power & Motor Yacht's executive editor Charlie Levine share tips on getting out ...read more

Cornell-2048x

Elcano Challenge Resurrected

In late 2020, sailing legend Jimmy Cornell set off on his Elcano Challenge, a green-powered circumnavigation aboard the custom Outremer Aventura Zero. Unfortunately, shortly after setting out, the boat encountered major power-generation issues. "I took the decision to turn ...read more

F8V-BOOK-for-SAIL---1

Book Review: The Figure 8 Voyage

“What is the color of the ocean that rolls beneath Pacific trades? How does a wave curl and crash at 47 degrees south? Can an albatross remain awing in the worst of weathers?” Randall Reeves has always found images to be the most compelling part of the stories we tell about the ...read more

AC210117cb_23806

VIDEO: Capsize in the Prada Cup

American Magic's Patriot capsized during day three of the Prada Cup. If you haven't yet watched the catastrophe unfold with your own eyes, check out the above video or any number of others that are circulating on social media. It's truly a tip that has to be seen to be believed. ...read more