Here we go again.
All this angst and mis-information derives from a misunderstanding of the term, "SSB".
Popularly -- and incorrectly -- it is often used to refer to a marine SSB transceiver
for use on the MF and HF marine bands. Problem is, "SSB" is a type of emission, not a type of or specific radio. Ham radios and aircraft radios and military radios and emergency land radios and dozens of others all typically use single-sideband emission (SSB) types.
There is no "SSB license". Rather, there are many types of licenses which allow operation on specific portions of the radio spectrum. For boats, the licenses required under international treaty are:
1. a ship station license, good for 10 years and issued to a specific vessel
, covering not only marine SSB radios but several other types of transmitting gear
, etc., etc.); and
2. an operators permit, good for life
, issued to every person who intends to transmit on the radio.
In an unusual exception to the worldwide practice, in the US only
neither of these is required for marine VHF radios which are not used to communicate with foreign vessels or stations. But, if you go abroad or if you regularly communicate with foreign vessels you need BOTH a ship station license and an operators permit
exactly the same as required for marine SSB operation.
All radios for use on the marine bands must be "type certificated" by the FCC for marine band operation. This is for both VHF and MF/HF radios. Though often done, use of ham radios modified to transmit in the marine bands is illegal.
For operation on the amateur bands (ham), all you need is a ham license and you can use ANY radio you like, the rationale being that if you know enough to obtain the amateur license you know enough to not cause harmful interference