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GMDSS Operator

A Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) Operators license is a commercial license issued by the FCC. The GMDSS Operators license is required to operate and perform limited maintenance on maritime radio distress and radio safety equipment aboard vessels covered under part II of title III of the Communications Act of 1934, or the Safety of Life at Seas (SOLAS) Convention. This requirement extends beyond waters of the United States and carries the force of international treaty.

The GMDSS conveys all authority of the Great Lakes area marine radio operators permit (MROP). However, GMDSS does not apply to vessels operating in the Great Lakes subject to The Agreement Between the United States of America and Canada for Promotion of Safety on the Great Lakes by Means of Radio, 1973, which applies to vessels of all countries navigating on the Great Lakes.

With few exceptions, two licensed GMDSS Operator's are required to be aboard vessels subject to GMDSS regulations.

GMDSS Operator Exam

The GMDSS Operator Exam is a two part exam. The first part, Element 1 is common to several other FCC issued licenses.

GMDSS Operator Element 7

Element 7 contains questions from what the FCC identifies as 100 key areas, some of which are:

  • Fundamental concept of the GMDSS
  • GMDSS Equipment
  • GMDSS Global Sea Areas
  • GMDSS Functional Requirements
  • GMDSS Radio Spectrum
  • GMDSS Modulation-Demodulation, AM & FM
  • GMDSS Carrier & Sidebands
  • GMDSS Antennas
  • GMDSS SITOR Broadcast
  • MF-HF Propagation
  • Inmarsat
  • DSC Operations
  • Lifecraft Equipment & Operations
  • SART: SAR Procedures & Radar Presentation
  • EPIRB: Equipment, Operating, Homing & Locating Signals
  • SafetyNet

For more information on the GMDSS Operator license, visit the FCC page here.

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