Maritime Mobile Service

The Maritime, or Marine, Radio Services have evolved from the earliest practical uses of radio. In 1900, just 6 years after Marconi demonstrated his “wireless” radio, devices were being installed aboard ships to enable them to receive storm warnings transmitted from stations on shore. Today, the same principle applies in using both shipboard and land stations in the marine services to safeguard life and property at sea.

Both types of stations are also used to aid marine navigation, commerce, and personal business, but such uses are secondary to safety, which has international priority. The Marine Radio Services include the Maritime Mobile Service, the Maritime Mobile-Satellite Service, the Port Operations Service, the Ship Movement Service, the Maritime Fixed Service, and the Maritime Radio determination Service.

  • Maritime Mobile Service is an internationally allocated radio service providing for safety of life and property at sea and on inland waterways.
  • Maritime Mobile-Satellite Service provides frequencies for public correspondence between ships and public coast stations as well as between aircraft and public coast stations and coast earth stations. The transmission of public correspondence from aircraft must not cause interference to maritime communications.
  • Port Operations Service provides frequencies for intership communications related to port operations in coastal harbors, allowing the vessel traffic to be managed more efficiently while protecting the marine environment from vessel collisions and groundings.
  • Ship Movement Service provides frequencies for communications relating to the operational handling of the movement and the safety of ships and, in emergency, to the safety of persons.
  • Maritime Fixed Service provides frequencies for communications equipment installed on oil drilling platforms, lighthouses, and maritime colleges.
  • Maritime Radiodetermination Service provides frequencies for determining position, velocity, and other characteristics of vessels.

Together, shipboard and land stations in the Marine Services are meant to serve the needs of the entire maritime community. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates these services both for ships of U.S. registry that sail in international and foreign waters and for all marine activities in U.S. territory.

For this and other reasons, the rules make a distinction between compulsory users of marine radio for safety at sea and noncompulsory uses for purposes other than safety. In addition, rules concerning domestic marine communications are matched to requirements of the U.S. Coast Guard, which monitors marine distress frequencies continuously to protect life and property in U.S. waters.