Warships of course are not affected by this edict. However I show this article because it is quite an eye-opener to see that there is such a problem with
MERCHANT SHIP RADIO CALLSIGNS
Ship Callsigns - RA Announces Policy Change
Press Release - 21 May 2002
The Radiocommunications Agency has announced a change of policy in the way it manages the allocation of ship radio callsigns and Maritime Mobile Service Identification (MMSI) numbers in the UK. Vessel owners in the UK have been notified that ship radio callsigns and MMSI numbers which cease to be supported by valid Ship Radio Licences may be re-allocated to other vessels.
Despite having a callsign series capable of supporting more than one hundred thousand vessels, the UK is rapidly running out of unallocated callsigns. The Radiocommunications Agency recently carried out an audit of allocated callsigns and found that around 40,000 have not been supported by valid Ship Radio Licences for five years or longer. As the UK has around only 60,000 licensed craft currently, it would appear vessel owners do not always notify the Agency each time vessels are either lost or re-flagged.
The new procedure
The UK needs to take action to preserve its national allocation of callsign and MMSI numbers in the way that other administrations already do. Action will be phased to give vessel owners a chance to adjust to the new procedure. From 1st April 2003, the Agency will re-cycle those callsigns and MMSI numbers that have not been supported by a valid ship radio licence for five or more years. From 1st April 2005 this period of grace will reduce to two years.
Wherever possible, the Agency will ensure that a vessel continues with its original callsign for the duration of its operational life or until transferred from UK ownership. However under the new procedure this is no longer guaranteed, unless the vesselhas an unbroken licence record or any unlicensed period is shorter than two years.
Notes to editors
1. The Radiocommunications Agency is an executive agency of the DTI responsible for licensing civil use of the radio spectrum in the UK.
2. The Agency issues ship radio callsigns and MMSI numbers to vessel owners as part of the ship radio licensing process.
3. Ship radio callsigns are internationally recognised codes of identification for vessels. MMSI numbers are applied to maritime radio equipment, and identify whether the equipment is portable or fixed on board the vessel. RA press notice 2001/03 at www.radio.gov.uk/publications/press/2001/15mar01.htm sets out the latest arrangements for the allocation of MMSI numbers.