Operating in UK Territorial Seas

Boat ClipartJust been listening to a very interesting debate on the local repeater GB3DA this evening. The topic:

“Can a Foundation or Intermediate licence holder operate in UK territorial waters?”

The relevant part of clause of the 2015 amateur radio licence states:

2(1) The Licensee may only operate the Radio Equipment in the United Kingdom (including its territorial seas) subject to sub-clauses (a) – (c):

(a) Where this Licence is a Full Licence only, and unless it is a Full (Club) or
Temporary Licence, the Licensee may operate the Radio Equipment from a
Maritime Mobile location;

The contention on the repeater was that while only a Full licence holder can work “Maritime Mobile”, any UK licence holder can work in UK territorial seas.

The traditional understanding taught at Foundation is that operating on inland waterways is allowed at Foundation and Full, but operating from sea is reserved for Full licence holders.

Interpretation note (u) states:

“Maritime Mobile” means the Radio Equipment is located on any Vessel at Sea;

Interpretation note (ss) states:

“Vessel at Sea” means a Vessel operating on the seaward side of the low-water line
along the coastline as marked on large scale charts officially recognised by the relevant
coastal state;

Interpretation note (tt) states:

“Vessel on Inland Waters” means a Vessel operating on the landward side of the low water
line along the coastline as marked on large scale charts officially recognised by the relevant coastal state;

Argument for:

The suggestion on GB3DA was that “including its territorial seas” applies to the Licensee – the following section 2(1)(a) about /MM for Full comes after the earlier statement, so is an addition applicable to Full licence holders only

Argument against:

Maritime Mobile is clearly defined as being on a “Vessel at Sea” – So if you’re on a sea (territorial on the seaward side of the low-water line, or International), you’re Maritime Mobile. 2(a) only allows /MM at Full

Signing in territorial waters

In a vessel, it is recommended that you use a suffix. There are two choices:

  • /M – Mobile (Section 17 definition: “any Vessel on Inland Waters”)
  • /MM – Maritime Mobile (Section 17 definition: “any Vessel at Sea”)

Your thoughts?

We’d love to know your thoughts, in the comments section. Also, we’d appreciate your taking the short poll.

[poll id=”6″]

As an aside, Trevor M5AKA raises an interesting comment via Twitter: “I’d say yes they can, if on one of the ofshore forts. If floating, then they must be on a short side of low water line”

Comments appreciated!


  1. M0CLZ 29 June 2015 Reply
    • M6UHN 6 July 2015 Reply
  2. Geoff G8GNZ 30 June 2015 Reply
  3. M0DNO - Charles 1 July 2015 Reply
  4. Murray Niman g6JYB 2 July 2015 Reply
    • M0WNF 9 July 2015 Reply
  5. Ian 19 January 2016 Reply
  6. Paul G7BHE 20 January 2016 Reply
  7. M1ECC 20 January 2016 Reply
  8. Geoff Blake 20 January 2016 Reply
  9. M5AKA 20 January 2016 Reply
  10. M5AKA 20 January 2016 Reply
    • Ian 22 January 2016 Reply
  11. Godfrey M0HYG 17 October 2018 Reply
    • David 27 January 2019 Reply

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