MCLEAN, Va.,– Iridium Communications Inc. has applied to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to be the provider of mobile satellite communications in the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).
The IMO Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR) said the application will now proceed to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) at its next meeting in November, before advancing to a group of experts for comprehensive technical and operational evaluation.
Final approval will be up to the Maritime Safety Committee, following review of the experts’ report by NCSR, which is expected by mid-2016.
“This is a victory for Iridium and the maritime industry,” said Matt Desch, CEO, Iridium. “The overwhelming support for our application to provide the industry an alternative and equally capable option for GMDSS services is a testament to the value and benefit the Iridium network can provide to maritime safety.” This is particularly important for coverage of Polar regions, where the incumbent GMDSS provider is not able to provide service.
Iridium’s constellation of 66 low-Earth orbit, inter-connected satellites operates as a fully-meshed network and provides robust and reliable coverage everywhere on Earth – including Polar regions – where demand for reliable voice and data communications is on the rise as shipping and trade routes continue to expand into these remote waters, the company said.
Iridium will begin deploying its second generation constellation (Iridium NEXT), in 2015.
In anticipation of IMO recognition, Iridium is working with established maritime communications equipment manufacturers for the production and certification of GMDSS terminals that use the Iridium network, along with Maritime Rescue Coordination Centers and service providers for the provision of maritime safety communications. Once approved, the shipboard terminals will meet both the GMDSS and operational communications needs of a vessel, giving the industry the option of a single, affordable communications terminal to satisfy both safety and business communications wherever they operate.
Expected to be available before the end of 2015, GMDSS terminals using the Iridium network are designed to have an operational longevity of nearly 20 years, eliminating the need for vessel owners and operators to purchase new equipment every few years, the company said.