An incident this past year in India involving the unauthorised use of a satellite telephone, while a vessel was in territorial waters brought to light the need for captains and officers to be more aware of their use while in Indian waters.
Mr. R. Rathnam of Asia Pacific Superyachts reminds superyachts and yachts planning trips to the Andamans, that in accordance with DGS Order No. 02 of 2012 the unauthorised use of Thuraya, Iridium and other such satellite phones is banned in Indian territorial waters. He adds, “If any boat comes to Andamans with these SAT phones, they will be kept under customs seal until the boat leaves the Indian waters.”
The legislation for this is Section 6 of Indian Wireless Act and Section 20 of Indian Telegraph Act. Port agents servicing vessels arriving at Port Blair and bound for Indian ports routinely make vessel Masters aware of this regulation. Yet, despite this forewarning, an incident occurred according to Steamship Mutual news when crew were allowed to use the phone to make a number of personal calls.
Shore monitoring of transmissions by the local authorities identified the vessel and local police/customs initiated an investigation. The maximum fine for breaching the regulation is INR 1,000 and/or imprisonment for three years for each crew member involved.
Moreover, it should be noted that breaches are seen as a state security matter resulting in a complicated and time-consuming investigation. Severe delays/detention of the vessel are likely, over and above the crew potentially facing criminal proceedings.
Mr. Rathnam cautioned those in charge to instruct all to closely follow the instructions of DGS Order No. 2. It is also recommended such phones be kept under their custody for as long as the vessel remains in Indian territorial waters. DGS Order No. 02 of 2012 can be downloaded at www.marsig.com/downloads/India%20DGS%20Order%20No2.pdf