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18 February 2003, 11:15 am
Small Craft Radar Performance Standards
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International Regulations

The performance and installation of Radar equipment fitted to ships subject to the SOLAS Convention is regulated by IMO (International Maritime Organisation).

They are also subject to the provisions of the Radio Regulations issued by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) the World Radio Communications conference (WRC) and to the domestic legislation of the ship's flag state.

On the other hand Small Craft Radar has been subject only to domestic legislation and the conditions of any licence to operate the equipment that may have been issued to the vessel.

The Radio Regulations are developed by the ITU through an ongoing series of WRC conferences. The Radio Regulations apply to all radio equipment generating electromagnetic frequencies arbitrally lower than 3000 GHz propagated in space without artificial guides. This includes Radar services.

There has been concern for a number of years in the Radio Regulatory world about the availability of channels for general use and the interest in the management of the Radio Spectrum has been on the increase. The frequencies allocated for maritime use have been under scrutiny, as has use made of these frequencies by Radar sets and other equipment. Concern has been expressed that much Maritime equipment strays outside the permitted frequencies, a phenomenon known as spurious emissions.

In 2001 the International Regulations Commission published revised Radio Regulations which, in Appendix 3, includes spurious emissions limits for any transmitter installed after 1st January, 2003 and for all transmitters after 1st January 2012. Small craft Radar sets installed before this date are specifically exempted by para 6 from this requirement. The enforcement of the Radio Regulations is a matter for the appropriate authority in the flag State of each yacht.

In Europe Radar sets for small craft were subject to National Type Approval under the European Marine Equipment Directive which remains in force. The European Commission has developed the Radio Equipment And Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Directive (R&TTE) that lays down the essential requirements for:

  • The protection of the health and safety of the user and other persons
  • The protection requirements with respect to electromagnetic compatibility
  • Effective use of the spectrum allocated to terrestrial/space radio communication and orbital resources so as to avoid harmful interference to other users.

Equipment sold in Europe must conform to the requirements of the R&TTE directive; it is enforced by national legislation. In the UK, for example, radio equipment installed after 1st January 2003 must comply with UK Radio Interface Requirement no 2020 for Radar 9 GHz. Equipment which conforms to the requirement of the directive must bear the CE Mark and accompanied, when sold, by a copy of the Declaration of Conformance to the directive requirements. The directive does not address any other operational requirement.

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is currently drafting a standard for radar sets to be fitted to non-SOLAS ships including yachts. This will be a voluntary standard and manufacturers will not be forced to use it unless national administrations invoke national legislation to this effect. This standard will continue to permit the use of existing Magnetron (pulse) technology in addition to new technologies in development.

Both old and new installations of sets using Magnetron technology should, for the foreseeable future, be able to pick up RACONs and SARTs. The end date may vary according to changes in domestic legislation. Any yachtsmen who is proposing to fit a new installation acquired after 1st January, 2003 would be well-advised to ensure that the equipment complies with the domestic legislation of his State and his individual requirements.

Michael Devonshire, Chairman of the ISAF International Regulations Commission
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