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post #4 of Old 01-31-2016
Erindipity
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Re: License question for hams with SSB

Let's get a few terms straight, before getting to the Answers:

"Hams"- Amateur Radio Operators. Certain RF Frequency _Ranges_ were set aside from the beginning for Experimentation and "Rag Chewing". When using those Frequency Ranges and Licensed as a Ham, the assigned Callsign must be used. Anonymity or encryption was never part of the Ham Culture, and Commercial activity is forbidden. Individuals are licensed based on passing an Exam, and may operate anywhere. Ham Gear is usually very adjustable, and because of the Experimental roots, all sorts of odd Modes like "SSTV", (Slow Scan Television), are permitted.

"SSB"- Single SideBand (Suppressed Carrier). A Modulation Technique that offers better range and efficiency than Amplitude or Frequency Modulation. Most commonly used on the HF Band- ~1.8 to ~30 MHz, and increasingly popular after WWII.

"Marine SSB"- As above, but on _specific_ Frequencies set aside for _Commercial_ Marine purposes. Boats are licensed; Marine SSB gear can only be used on Land under specific circumstances. Experimentation and "Rag Chewing" are discouraged. To use Marine SSB gear, one must obtain a "Restricted Radiotelephone Operator's Permit", good for life, that doesn't require any testing, or indeed any knowledge. Marine SSB gear is simplified to the extreme, so that minimal knowledge is needed to use it, _especially_ in Emergencies.

These terms are confused and interchangeable these days. When Hams use the term "SSB", they are referring to the Technique; when Boaters use the term "SSB", they are usually referring to the Frequencies and gear set aside for Marine purposes.

Now let's get to the bits that mostly apply to the US:
The FCC keeps a loose eye on who uses what and where. They issue a "Type Acceptance" for a Transmitter or Transceiver that acknowledges that the Gear operates Legally on permitted frequencies, and that will not bother others too much off-frequency. The Reception parts aren't "Type Accepted" because simple Listening, with certain obscure exceptions, doesn't require Licensing.
There are no Transceivers that are "Type Accepted" for both Marine and Ham usage in the US. This is quite deliberate and is not likely to change anytime soon, because the FCC wishes to maintain the distinction between the two types of Services.
That doesn't mean that Ham gear can't be modified, often trivially these days, to operate anywhere in the HF Range in any Mode. It happens all the time, and one has to be really obnoxious for the FCC to take any interest. "Really Obnoxious" is becoming more common as well.
(There is a valid reason for ease of modification; it's just too complicated for a Manufacturer to customize their gear for all of the various Regulations in all of the various Countries. So the right kind of Technician with the right kind of Test Gear shouldn't find it too difficult to do it legally, and expensively.)

Most Nations have similar Regulations, but they often differ in the details. Why this is has to do with one man, and one International event.
The Man was Guglielmo Marconi, the first Ham, and the first Marine Operator, on the SS Philadelphia. The event was the sinking of the Titanic a few years later; Marconi's gear meant that there were Survivors.
Back then, Commercial and Amateur Operators walked all over each other, and it was then seen that there was a need to separate the two. Any Reception was to be encouraged, but Transmission was to be restricted. Thus the "Radio Act Of 1912" in the US, and the "International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea" in 1914, which never actually went into effect because of what happened in August of that year. WWI saw the introduction and growing importance of a third kind of Radio Operations- Military.



Now, with all of that out of the way, let's answer the questions:

"If you are FCC licensed, do you use your ham call sign, or the ship's station call sign?"
If you are using Ham Gear on the Ham Bands, you use the Ham Call sign. With direct supervision, others may use the rig. If you are using Marine Gear on the Marine Frequencies, you use the Ship's Station Call Sign. Note that during Emergencies, these distinctions melt away, on purpose. The Lessons of the Titanic were learned.

"If you are FCC licensed, do you even need the ship station license?"
Again, there are different kinds of Licenses for different purposes. The Ship's Station License is needed for the communications gear on the Marine Frequencies, on Type Accepted equipment. An Operator's Permit is required to use it. Only one Permit is required; anybody on board can share it.

If you are doing it right, you have your Ham and Marine gear separate, with the required Licenses for both. You can always use Ham Gear for listening to Marine communications, but Transmitting is prohibited.




Now I will Rant a little.
What is usually missing in these kinds of discussions is the Driving Force behind all of these distinctions for over a Century: Courtesy.
Courtesy is pretty much forgotten all too commonly. (Listen to the various Marine Nets, especially on 20 Meters.):

•Use only as much power as needed.
•Don't Hog a Frequency.
•Listen for a bit, before Transmitting.
•Don't Operate in such a way as to offend others, and this doesn't involve just use of Speech, but use of Gear as well. Don't Splatter.
•During Emergencies, stay the Hell out of the way, unless you can materially contribute.
•During "Contests", stay away from them as well, unless actively participating. "Contests" exist for reasons, especially the QRP ones. (Very Low Power.)
•Learn and abide by the applicable FCC Regulations, and when in Foreign Waters, learn those Regulations as well.
•When using Marine Gear, stay out of the Guts, unless you are a qualified and FCC certified technician. (The Rules have changed recently here.)

All of this applies, and more, if using modified Ham Gear on Marine Frequencies. This is Illegal, but common. There is only one valid reason for this- Emergencies. Having the capability, but not using it unless absolutely needed, is somewhat OK.

¬Erindipity
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