Reports have emerged that a superyacht berthed at OneOcean Port Vell Barcelona was unknowingly transmitting signals on an illegal frequency, causing disruptions to the local rail network in Spain last week.
On Thursday 19th May, Spanish police entered several marinas and refit yards in Barcelona to track down the source of a ‘rogue radio signal’. A source has claimed that police entered the marinas with warrants demanding all radio communications were shut down. By turning the systems back on one at a time, they were able to ascertain which vessel was the cause of the disruption.
Reports concerning the extent of the disruption are varied, with some claiming that certain trains were delayed by 90 minutes, and others claiming there were no immediate effects to local transport and that the police’s efforts were precautionary.
The UN has designated 60 maritime frequencies to be used for radio communications, for both the leisure and commercial sectors. To fit a digital radio communications system on board a superyacht that does not use these frequencies is illegal in many territories – but laws in this area have been criticised for being unclear; particularly since digital radio communications have become commonplace over analogue signals.
Whilst it is likely there are several more superyachts around the world unknowingly using illegal radio signals, there have been no convictions within the superyacht industry for such an offence.