Obtaining a MMSI (Maritime Mobile Service Identity) for the VHF Radio

Standard Horizon Eclipse DSC GX1000S
Standard Horizon Eclipse DSC GX1000S

The VHF Radio that came with Fantasia is a Standard Horizon Eclipse DSC GX1000S 25 Watt VHF/FM DSC Marine Transceiver. Since this radio has DSC (Digital Selective Calling), it can radio in a distress call essentially with a touch of button. However, to use it, a MMSI must be registered with the FCC. There are various requirements to get a MMSI, but for a Catalina 22 being operated as a pleasure boat, one may be registered for free.

The easiest way to do this is with BoatUS. You fill out a couple of online forms, and it assigns you a MMSI immediately.

However, if we ever take the boat to Canada, we need to remember to get a new MMSI directly from the FCC. The reason is that the MMSI received from BoatUS is only placed into a US national database, not the international database. So a distress call placed with the MMSI in Canada will not be found in the database that the Canadian coast guard would use. It is conceivable that we will sail to Victoria or Vancouver BC at some point. Until that time though, the US MMSI will work fine.

The radio has an interface for a GPS, but it isn't built in and the boat didn't come with one. So a distress call will not give the location unless we get one.

We learned that most of the VHF radios don't let you make a lot of changes to the MMSI. The radio we have only lets you make two changes before you have to send it back to the manufacturer. We don't know whether we need to do that yet, as we have some electrical issues to resolve first.