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A few notes:
Firstly there are a lot more classes of license than just Marine or Ham. Many organisations require highly capable radios with frequency agility. Some examples are Search and Rescue, Marine Coast Stations, Government Monitoring Stations, Military, International Passenger and Freight Vessels, etc. These groups are often licensed to use fancy radios such as top-end Collins gear, Harris, ITT, Vertex, etc. But because of this, they also require their operators to have First Class or Coast Guard radio certificates so the operators won't get into trouble.
The important thing is that you must have the right class of radio and the right operators certificate for your station. To argue that you can "own any radio" is just blindness. If your station has an non-approved or modified radio in service, you risk being prosecuted if something goes wrong.
Just one example. The Radio Inspector is dragged out of bed by a panicky Emergency Operator who has some idiot interfering with an emergency channel. Perhaps lives have already been lost or put at risk. The inspector spends many late nights monitoring (and keeping his boss informed) and eventually determines that it is yacht so-and-so who is quietly travelling down the coast. Unfortunately some genius has picked an "unused" frequency to chat to his unlicensed "home base". What he doesn't realise is that he is on the input frequency of some duplex pair and is wiping out a critical channel. You can imagine the reception the boat gets when it finally sails into port. There will be quite a welcoming party with Customs, Police and FCC in attendance.
Simple possession of a modified radio will then be essential evidence in the forthcoming trial. I have seen exactly this scenario occur on a number of occasions. It is amazing how these idiot's bluster disappears when they are faced with giving evidence in a coroner's enquiry. I could give a dozen quite different but related examples.
One other point: Marine stations (including oil rigs, etc) are frequently (and quite legitimately) fitted with land-based gear for their non-marine communications (talk to head office, supply ships, helicopters, etc). This of course is in addition to their standard Marine Radio equipment.
Last edited by SparkyToo; 01-16-2011 at 07:36 PM.