What am I paying foghorn tax for??!!?
September 13, 2019 8:27 PM   Subscribe

Calling all mariners and USCG regulation experts, I need help!

So, my local foghorn is now activated on demand via VHF-FM radio. Were I to purchase such a radio, and activate the foghorn from land on what I deemed a foggy night or perhaps day, would I risk sanction, criminal charges, or any other type heat from the man?

I'm rather psycho-emotionally invested in this foghorn.
posted by vrakatar to Law & Government (5 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: For VHF radios on small private vessels in US waters, the FCC no longer requires a ship radio station license or an operator's license; anyone can buy a marine VHF radio and use it on their boat. But that does not mean you can operate one from land! To operate a marine VHF radio from land, you need either a coast radio station license or a marine utility station license.

From the FCC page on ship radio licensing (see under the 'Operations' tab):
Using Hand-Held Marine VHF Radios on Land

You must have a special license, called a marine utility station license, in addition to a ship station license, to operate a hand-held marine radio from land -- a ship station license IS NOT sufficient. You may apply for this license by filing FCC Forms 159 and 601 with the FCC. To be eligible for a marine utility station license, you must generally provide some sort of service to ships or have control over a bridge or waterway. Additionally, you must show a need to communicate using hand-held portable equipment from both a ship and from coast locations. Each unit must be capable of operation while being hand-carried by an individual. The station operates under the rules applicable to ship stations when the unit is aboard a ship, and under the rules applicable to private coast stations when the unit is on land.
In short, you either need to convince the FCC you have a very good reason to do this, or you need to blow up a tire and sit in it a few yards off shore while you do it.
posted by automatronic at 9:10 PM on September 13, 2019 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: Heard. They say you can't fight city hall, and I reckon I can't fight MRASS.
posted by vrakatar at 9:18 PM on September 13, 2019

What if you had a kayak and a vhf radio? asking for a friend.
posted by forforf at 5:19 AM on September 14, 2019 [4 favorites]

Yes to kayak etc in terms of spirit vs letter of the law. The problem is that the uscg has rescue21 which records all transmissions and has automated direction finding. so if you are repeatedly triggering from the same place they will catch on and can find you. that Coupled with the fine for not using marine mobile legally($10k is possible and happens about every year) and not only is it illegal but also highly unadvisable. Please don't do this. Allow mariners to trigger as needed when needed.
posted by chasles at 7:06 AM on September 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

For every seasonal resident who “can no longer be lulled by this beautiful sound” there will be many neighbours who aren't wild about this noise pollution. Warning systems are there for when people need them. Triggering this foghorn for up to an hour just for teh lulz from an unlicensed transmitter is a great way of getting a branch of the military mad at you.
posted by scruss at 9:17 AM on September 14, 2019 [3 favorites]

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