US-based satellite communications company Iridium Communications has received a Letter of Compliance from Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) regulator, the International Mobile Satellite Organization, authorizing Iridium to provide GMDSS service.
The award follows a four-year review process and makes Iridium the second GMDSS recognized mobile satellite system in the world next to Inmarsat.
GMDSS is a set of protocols, equipment and communications systems designed to ensure that if a ship is in distress, aid can be dispatched from anywhere in the world. IMSO serves as regulator for the system, which is partially comprised of satellite networks that transmit distress information to rescue coordination centers around the world, in addition to the dissemination of navigational and meteorological data to vessels at sea.
“This is a historic moment for public safety in the maritime community globally. The addition of new providers, such as Iridium, for GMDSS services can help to create safer seas for all mariners,” said Captain Moin Ahmed, Director General of IMSO.
“Recognition of Iridium marks the start of a new era in GMDSS and enhances the integrity and global coverage of safety services for seafarers across the world, including in the polar regions.”
Iridium’s GMDSS service extends this critical service to the growing number of ships in the waters of the Arctic and Antarctica, otherwise known as Sea Area A4.
Inmarsat and its partner Lars Thrane unveiled their first terminal designed to operate on the Iridium network for GMDSS vessel carriage requirements at last year’s Nor-Shipping in Oslo.
The new Iridium GMDSS terminals will combine the key three GMDSS services – distress alert, distress voice and Maritime Safety Information – all in one compact terminal.
These terminals can provide Ship Security Alert System (SSAS), Anti-Piracy/Citadel Communications, and Long-Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT).
“This is a monumental achievement for Iridium, and one that took years of hard work and dedication. The maritime industry is recognizing that our network possesses the unique ability to make GMDSS an even more robust system and extend its coverage to the entire planet,” said Iridium CEO, Matt Desch.
Iridium said it would continue to work with its partners around the world towards rolling out its global GMDSS service throughout the first half of 2020.