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Why are amateur radios prohibited?


K32682
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I am an amateur radio operator and recently discovered most cruise lines prohibit their use on board.  Is there a rationale why ham radios and satellite phones are not permitted on board?  Bringing an HF radio along on a cruise would be interesting particularly on a transatlantic or other long cruises in distant waters.  

 

 

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There have been discussions on here before.

 

I think there are two reasons :

1. The signal the amateur is using may interfere with ship systems.

2. The ship sails in and out of different territories where it may be illegal to operate amateur radios or specific licences would be required.

 

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9 minutes ago, kerryincork said:

There have been discussions on here before.

 

I think there are two reasons :

1. The signal the amateur is using may interfere with ship systems.

2. The ship sails in and out of different territories where it may be illegal to operate amateur radios or specific licences would be required.

 

I agree with this. It's probably also a matter of frequency control. Just because you have authorization to transmit on a given frequency that may not carry over to another country (of course the universal frequencies would still be available).

Edited by sparks1093
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All ships are issued with an international radio telegraphy/telephony certificate, and all UHF/VHF equipment above a certain wattage, and all MF an HF equipment used onboard the ship must be registered on this certificate.  Also, all operators of this equipment must be certified under the laws of the flag state (i.e. must be licensed deck officers of the flag state).  Even if a cruise line allows an amateur radio onboard, it is up to the Captain's discretion whether he will allow its use, since the ship's radio "station" (all the equipment onboard) is operated under his authority.

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I haven't looked recently, but in the past there were Ham Radio cruises.

 

Yaesu used to have one every year.  They would have rows of HF rigs set up and usable by passengers with the proper license

 

I do not know if they were restricted to international waters or what the did about national laws.

 

Some countries allow amateurs of certain nations to operate, without obtaining a local license.

 

 

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Further to the Chief's correct response, even if permitted to bring MF/HF equipment on board you would experience issues with setting up an effective aerial aboard ship.

 

The days of Radio Officers using high powered MF/HF equipment aboard commercial ships is long gone, with GMDSS certified Deck Officers completing the coms. Back in the days of MF/HF our aerials were > 100' strung between the foremast & funnel, so I can't imagine how you could set up an aerial for effective coms.

 

With ships now GMDSS the MF/HF transmissions deep sea are probably minimal and although we had the ability to Tx/Rx with Portishead Radio in UK from anywhere in the World, I doubt a ham radio would have similar range.

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17 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

Further to the Chief's correct response, even if permitted to bring MF/HF equipment on board you would experience issues with setting up an effective aerial aboard ship.

 

The days of Radio Officers using high powered MF/HF equipment aboard commercial ships is long gone, with GMDSS certified Deck Officers completing the coms. Back in the days of MF/HF our aerials were > 100' strung between the foremast & funnel, so I can't imagine how you could set up an aerial for effective coms.

 

With ships now GMDSS the MF/HF transmissions deep sea are probably minimal and although we had the ability to Tx/Rx with Portishead Radio in UK from anywhere in the World, I doubt a ham radio would have similar range.

 

I hadn't sorted out the antenna issue before learning amateur radios were prohibited.  I see nothing however that prohibits a non-transmitting scanner or shortwave receiver which would be a way to occupy the idle hours.   

Edited by K32682
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You do not need that long of an antenna, if you have a robust impedance matching system.

 

You can just use a random length of wire.

 

The longer, tuned antennas are a way to reduce the matching load.

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8 hours ago, chengkp75 said:

A receive only device would likely be acceptable, but would still require clearance from the Captain, so if you want to bring one, you need to contact the Captain directly to receive clearance.

 

Clearance from the captain for a receive-only device? There's nothing on cruise line sites I've seen requiring it nor do any of them ban receivers.  Devices that transmit are banned (e.g. satellite telephones, HAM radios, emergency beacons) presumably because they transmit.  If FRS radios (walkie-talkies) are permitted on board that have a modest transmit capability it would seem bizarre to require special blessings from on high for a receiver.

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35 minutes ago, K32682 said:

 

Clearance from the captain for a receive-only device? There's nothing on cruise line sites I've seen requiring it nor do any of them ban receivers.  Devices that transmit are banned (e.g. satellite telephones, HAM radios, emergency beacons) presumably because they transmit.  If FRS radios (walkie-talkies) are permitted on board that have a modest transmit capability it would seem bizarre to require special blessings from on high for a receiver.

Captain's ship - Captain's rules.  If chengkp75 suggests that is required, then with his career Maritime service I would have to believe he would be correct.  But if you have any doubts I would suggest contacting the cruise line(s) in question and ask for their confirmation.  Failing that, I guess the worst case scenario is to try to bring one on board and, if prohibited, risk having security confiscate it during the boarding process to be returned to you at the end of the cruise.

 

And BTW most commercial walkie talkies are of little value on board as there is too much interference from the steel structure to be of any real use.  And many ports of call forbid them on shore as well.  (Those that are used on board by the crew rely on select frequencies with built in ship board repeaters).

Edited by leaveitallbehind
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7 hours ago, SRF said:

You do not need that long of an antenna, if you have a robust impedance matching system.

 

You can just use a random length of wire.

 

The longer, tuned antennas are a way to reduce the matching load.

 

Or, just use a wire coat hanger. 😀😀😀

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8 hours ago, K32682 said:

 

Clearance from the captain for a receive-only device? There's nothing on cruise line sites I've seen requiring it nor do any of them ban receivers.  Devices that transmit are banned (e.g. satellite telephones, HAM radios, emergency beacons) presumably because they transmit.  If FRS radios (walkie-talkies) are permitted on board that have a modest transmit capability it would seem bizarre to require special blessings from on high for a receiver.

You are incorrect, as Carnival Cruise lines do specify communication scanners and wideband receivers are prohibited, while most of the others only state Ham Radios.

 

In earlier responses, the Chief has outlined the regulatory issues with passengers bringing radio equipment aboard ship. On boarding a ship you are subject to the technical and training/certification regulations of the ship's Flag State. A radio, whether Tx/Rx or Rx is still subject to the regulations including approvals (Flag/Class/EU Wheelmark), operator certification, documentation, etc.

 

Some information from the Canadian Radio Regulations, which are consistent with other Flag States:

  • The Master shall ensure the Ship Station or radio equipment complies with the Regulations - your radio/scanner is not included in the ship station, but it may be included under radio equipment
  • All radio equipment shall:
    • Meet requirement of IMO Resolution A.649(17)
    • Certified by a Safety Convention country as complying with IEC945

 

So yes, the Master has the right to approve you bringing aboard radio equipment and can set any limitations regarding the use. Please also be aware that when getting involved in ship operations/regulatory issues, life on board a ship is most definitely not a democracy. Only 1 opinion matters - the Captain. Even if the Cruise Line approves, the Master is well within his/her right to ban any equipment.

 

FRS products are not regulated on board ships and while I haven't used them, I believe most are rated at 0.5 W, with some at 1W and possibly 2W. Minimal power compared to the Officers dual band 5 W portables, the multiple 25 W VHF's on the Bridge and before GMDSS the many kW systems we used for WT & RT.

 

 

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On 5/21/2019 at 6:14 AM, chengkp75 said:

A receive only device would likely be acceptable, but would still require clearance from the Captain, so if you want to bring one, you need to contact the Captain directly to receive clearance.

In the days before internet and satellite TV I took a tiny (about the size of a cigarette package) AM/FM/SW receiver on my cruises, did not know I was playing fast and loose with the rules.

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14 hours ago, ldubs said:

 

Or, just use a wire coat hanger. 😀😀😀

 

I have made ham antennas out of wire coat hangers.  But I prefer to use welding rod. 
 

😄

 

 

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7 hours ago, whogo said:

In the days before internet and satellite TV I took a tiny (about the size of a cigarette package) AM/FM/SW receiver on my cruises, did not know I was playing fast and loose with the rules.

I have a small Sony SW radio about the size of a paperback that I've taken on cruises before.  Didn't know I was challenging the mighty rule of the men in white pants by listening to the BBC World Service.  LOL.

 

  

Edited by K32682
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On 5/22/2019 at 11:18 AM, SRF said:

 

I have made ham antennas out of wire coat hangers.  But I prefer to use welding rod. 
 

😄

 

 

 

I just remembered, a friend used his gutter system of his house as an HF antenna.  It worked.

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On 5/22/2019 at 5:25 PM, K32682 said:

I have a small Sony SW radio about the size of a paperback that I've taken on cruises before.  Didn't know I was challenging the mighty rule of the men in white pants by listening to the BBC World Service.  LOL.

 

  

Ships aren't democracies.  

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4 hours ago, MicCanberra said:

That they are not but that doesn't mean they are dictator-ships either

Perhaps not in the sense of the tone in which life on board is managed.  But the word of the Captain is law. He is 100% responsible for 100% of the safe operation of the ship on behalf of its' crew and passengers.  Anything he deems necessary to assure that is 100% at his sole discretion.  Nothing democratic about that - nor should it be.

Edited by leaveitallbehind
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34 minutes ago, leaveitallbehind said:

Perhaps not in the sense of the tone in which life on board is managed.  But the word of the Captain is law. He is 100% responsible for 100% of the safe operation of the ship on behalf of its' crew and passengers.  Anything he deems necessary to assure that is 100% at his sole discretion.  Nothing democratic about that - nor should it be.

Sure.  And when he runs his ship into "uncharted" rocks he can claim he "fell" into a lifeboat by accident ahead of he passengers and didn't go back to the ship because it was "too dark."  LOL.

  

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6 minutes ago, K32682 said:

Sure.  And when he runs his ship into "uncharted" rocks he can claim he "fell" into a lifeboat by accident ahead of he passengers and didn't go back to the ship because it was "too dark."  LOL.

  

Didn't say there weren't bad Captains.  

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1 hour ago, K32682 said:

Sure.  And when he runs his ship into "uncharted" rocks he can claim he "fell" into a lifeboat by accident ahead of he passengers and didn't go back to the ship because it was "too dark."  LOL.

  

And what about the pilot who was taken off his aircraft during pre-flight because he was wanted for triple murder.  Bad supervisors in every industry, but that does not negate the fact that a ship is basically a dictatorship, within the framework of the flag state laws.

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33 minutes ago, chengkp75 said:

Bad supervisors in every industry, but that does not negate the fact that a ship is basically a dictatorship, within the framework of the flag state laws.

How did I ever miss 'ship captain' on those career  aptitude tests I did in high school?

 

Dictatorial powers were my # 1 criteria, and my sex disqualified me from the 'wife' occupation. 😁

 

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