An incident in 2015 in India, involving the unauthorised use of satellite telephone while a vessel was in territorial waters brought to light the need for captains and officers to be more aware of this ban.
“If any boat comes to Andamans with these SAT phones they will be kept under customs seal until the boat leaves the Indian waters”. Said Mr. Ratham. This is in accordance with DGS Order No. 02 of 2012 – the unauthorised use of Thuraya, Iridium and other such satellite phones which are banned in Indian territorial 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 (according to Steamship Mutual news) an incident occurred 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.
In addition, it is important to state that breaches are taken as a state security matter leading to a complicated and time consuming investigation. Severe delays/detention of the yacht is likely, over and above the crew potentially facing criminal proceedings. Mr. Rathnam cautioned those in charge of entering visiting vessels 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.