Yes, what you were told is correct, with the possible exception of a fine. While it might be that a fine can technically be assessed for not having a ships radio license
, I can't imagine that ever being enforced, or even asked for. Also, the ships license contains the mmsi and possession of the license is permit
to use it and the equipment
, so the advice you were given implied more complication than necessary.
The problem with the "free" mmsi, however, lies in if you ever need to use it in an emergency
. The database of these mmsi numbers is not shared internationally, so your registered data will not be available. It may be possible that those numbers aren't even recognized as valid by other radios or rescue
resources, but that is speculation because I don't know.
Given that almost nobody uses their mmsi for any other reason than a possible emergency
(there have been recent threads on this), it seems prudent to do it correctly.
We meet many cruising outside the US with a BoatUS mmsi who don't seem even remotely interested in using it to call others, etc (ie, all the functions besides the safety
one). I don't think any of them understand the situation they are in.
Frankly, the registration
of that block of "free" mmsi numbers assigned to BoatUS was a stupid mistake. It is only the US who has done this type of thing - the rest of the world uses international numbers.
BTW, everything that you may be concerned about regarding being outside the US without a proper mmsi is also valid for the VHF
, etc, since they too need a ships radio