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Author Topic: Marine Radio Operator still requires 2nd class radio telegraph certificate  (Read 8893 times)
WX7G
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« on: June 21, 2010, 04:25:14 PM »

I was curious about what is required in the year 2010 to be a Radio Officer aboard a US registered vessel. A certificate from the National Maritime Center (part of the USCG) is needed. Interestingly a 2nd Class Radiotelegraph certificate is a requirement in addition to the GMDSS Operator and GMDSS Maintainer License.


http://www.uscg.mil/nmc/checklists.asp
« Last Edit: June 22, 2010, 07:55:02 AM by DAVE CUTHBERT » Logged
KC8WUC
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« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2010, 04:41:26 AM »

Actually, only the 2nd Class Radiotelegraph Operator Certificate is necessary to obtain the Radio Officer License.  This, of course, is in addtion to the three letters of recommendation, drug screen, physical, TWIC card, check, and proof of recent certification/training in First Aid and CPR.  The GMDSS Operator and Maintainer Licenses are optional.  If you need or want these endorsements, you will need to complete USCG training and provide proof of passing (a certificate) or the equivalent per IMO STCW regulations. Per USCG policy, if you have completed a course of study in radio repair and provide proof of this (and it meets IMO regulations) and submit this, then they will issue you a STCW. 

I have a copy of the regs from IMO if anyone is interested.

A Radio Officer License is required because their are still some vessels  that exclusively use CW and have radios that transmit distress traffic on 500 kHz, even if the Coast Guard doesn't monitor it anymore. 

73,  Michael KC8WUC
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AA4PB
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« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2010, 05:08:15 AM »

Great! Only the gov't doesn't need to know Morse  Huh
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KC8WUC
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« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2010, 08:03:12 AM »

That was exactly my point a couple of years ago when I spoke with the former head of the National Maritime Center and Commandant of the USCG.  They informed me that while I was highly qualified to work as a radio engineer and use the radio on a ship, I wasn't qualified to work as a radio officer and hold this distinction until I received my 2nd Class certificate, even though Morse code has been supplanted by GMDSS and the Coast Guard has stopped listening to Morse code.

73,  Michael KC8WUC
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AE4RV
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« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2010, 09:31:35 AM »

Is it possible/practical to monitor CW maritime traffic these days? Or is it too rare to pursue?
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KC8WUC
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« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2010, 07:15:13 PM »

Yes, it is practical if you're patient. I'm on CW on the maritime Morse working frequencies on my tug boat (I'm currently in the south of France).  I believe that most MF/HF ham radios are capable of receiving maritime frequencies, if not, then a good wide band scanner.  All Icom, Yaesu/Standard Vertex, Raymarine, Furuno, JRC, Sailor, Skanti, SEA-DMI (the last three being high end marine radios) will pick up the Morse working frequencies. The lower working frequencies in the LF range are likely able to be received by most wide range receivers.

73,  Michael KC8WUC
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AE4RV
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« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2010, 06:16:48 AM »

Thanks, I'll give a listen. I'm capable of research but if you have some frequencies for me to try, I'm all ears.

73 Geoff
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WX7G
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« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2010, 06:18:46 AM »

Michael, how much CW activity is there and what kind of traffic is handled? Are there any commercial shore stations on CW?
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KC8WUC
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« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2010, 06:59:50 AM »

I know that in the U.S. that there are several licensed marine coastal stations in the U.S. that are authorized to operate on CW (including myself, although I've been out the U.S. for a while and have been unable to find a commercial transmitter that operates in the LF range and will emit CW emissions that will fit my budget).  The other licensees (other than myself), Globe Wireless (KEJ, KFS, KHF, KPH, WCC, and WNN) and ShipCom (KLN, KNW, WCL, and WLO) took over the old RCA/Radio Marine Corporation of America licenses and frequencies used by the Coast Guard.  They do monitor CW, although not all of the stations are operating; I know KPH in San Francisco is more of a historical station that operates intermittently.  As for the others, I think that they keep their license designations for historical purposes and may have been a means to an end, only to acquire the station license to enter the maritime radio field with the intention of adding frequencies for SSB and other modes used in maritime communication. 

On the tug, I tend to communicate more with other ships in commerce and naval fleets by CW.  Some ports still monitor CW and regularly communicate. 

A good listing of maritime stations is available at: http://www.coastalradio.org.uk/freqlists/coastmf.pdf   This is fairly comprehensive, although not all inclusive.  For the more "intense" CW listener, you can purchase a CD of maritime coastal stations from the IMO.

73,  Michael KC8WUC/WDE9344

(in port at Toulon, France)

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KC8WUC
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« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2010, 09:00:25 AM »

In response to the questions about traffic, not a regular stream of traffic in terms of commercial messages, typically occasional calls to port announcing arrival/departure, questions about handling of cargo, fueling, supplies, chandlery, and occasional safety calls, etc. ...  I've never heard any distress traffic.  Most traffic ithat I've heard is ship to ship and ship to port, rather than to maritime stations. The remainder of CW traffic in the LF range is military traffic among patrol craft, land based stations, and occasional warships.  Some of the listings that you will find are used by maritime safety craft of their respective countries, rather than warships.    The majority of the commercial radio traffic has switched to SSB, although Greece and Spain still use CW (not exclusively) and France somewhat (depending on who you're talking to). 

I got the 2nd Class license to use the radio on the tug that I bought, although will ladd SSB, get it licensed and registered as I upgrade to GMDSS before I venture back to the States.

73,  Michael KC8WUC/WDE9344
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2010, 05:35:08 PM »

I remember "back in the day" when there was tons of maritime traffic on CW...in the early to mid 60s.

I also used to listen to (whether I liked it or not, because their signals were so strong and my receivers weren't great), "Press wireless," which was all CW.  The Press Wireless transmitter near me must have run an enormous amount of power.  I was amazed they were using CW considering RTTY would be faster and was surely available many years earlier: Maybe they used both.
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W4YA
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« Reply #11 on: July 04, 2010, 05:39:56 PM »

In 1954 a lot of guys in our high school radio club were getting commercial licenses.  There was an FCC office in our town.  So, I studied for the 2nd Class CW license and passed.

The FCC engineer said I might as well try for the Amateur Extra, since the questions were the SAME as the exam I just took.  He was right.  The questions and multiple choice answers were word-for-word the same.

Since I had already passed the 20 wpm code test, he gave me credit for it.

That's how I got my Extra!
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KC6ZZT
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« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2010, 06:21:57 PM »

The former KPH (now operating as KSM) is still operational and is open for site visit. 

They have very helpful and knowledgable operators can give a tour, answer questions.  They still broadcast CW on maritime frequencies. The also monitor 500kc.

There are actually two sites, as transmitters and receivers were in two locations a few miles apart. 

Operated by the Maritime Radio Historical Society, and is associated with the National Park Service. Located in Bolinas and Point Reyes, CA.

Out amateur radio club (Amateur Radio Club of Alameda http://www.arcaham.org) just had a site visit yesterday Aug 14 to KPH/KSM. And they also have amateur radio station K6KPH, which CW ops can use.

You can read all about them here: http://radiomarine.org/

Highly recommended.

73,
Joe kc6zzt
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STAYVERTICAL
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Posts: 875




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« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2010, 04:41:08 AM »

I know that in the U.S. that there are several licensed marine coastal stations in the U.S. that are authorized to operate on CW (including myself, although I've been out the U.S. for a while and have been unable to find a commercial transmitter that operates in the LF range and will emit CW emissions that will fit my budget). 

My first tour (1973) was on a cement carrier that had a 500Khz station that I later saw in a museum as a "typical 1930's ships radio", so you may find one in your local technology museum's garage sale. Oh, and the brass voice tubes would make a great backup system.
Just a thought.
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KC8WUC
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Posts: 54




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« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2010, 03:13:57 PM »

I still have my Skanti and Sailo radios (which operate on 500kHz and in the LF band) on my tugboat, Sourmash), however plan to keep both on the tug after I upgrade to GMDSS next month (strictly out of necessity), otherwise, I'd install them at my coastal station (still pending completion of construction).

73
Michael KC8WUC/WDE9344

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