Iridium signs GMDSS Public Services Agreement

IMSO Director General, Captain Moin Ahmed (left) with Iridium Director of Maritime Safety and Security Services, Kyle Hurst at the Public Services Agreement signing ceremony at IMSO headquarters

Iridium has announced that it has completed the signing of a Public Services Agreement (PSA) with the International Mobile Satellite Organization (IMSO), which details the conditions for IMSO to act as regulator and maintain oversight of Iridium’s Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) services.

Iridium says that the signing of the agreement is a key step towards IMSO issuing Iridium a Letter of Compliance, stating that the company is ready to begin providing its GMDSS service.

In May of 2018, the IMO adopted a ‘Statement of Recognition’, saying that the Iridium network met the requirements necessary to offer GMDSS, paving the way for Iridium to join Inmarsat as only the second satellite operator to provide the safety service. Inmarsat has been the sole GMDSS approved provider since the system became fully operational in 1999.

“Iridium is on target to complete development of its GMDSS system before the end of 2019, and our first terminal, in development by Lars Thrane, can be installed by any vessel as soon as it’s type approved,” said Bryan Hartin, executive vice president, Iridium.

“However, SOLAS Convention (Safety of Life At Sea) class vessels will need to wait until 2020 for that Iridium terminal to meet its mandated GMDSS carriage requirement, which is when the needed amendments made to the SOLAS Convention take effect. All non-SOLAS class vessels can begin using the service as soon as it is available, and anyone will be able to begin use of the new terminal for general communications needs.”

“We’re proud of our work, in close collaboration with IMSO, to add Iridium to this critically important service and appreciate all the hard work and guidance provided by IMSO to help make sure we will be officially ready to go.”

Iridium’s progress towards implementing the required steps to provide GMDSS service will be reported to the IMO during a Maritime Safety Committee meeting in London this coming June. The first terminal planned for certification, the Lars Thrane LT-3100S, is scheduled to be type-approved in 2019, with several additional Iridium GMDSS terminals planned for development in the future.

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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