HomeLibraryMaritime ResourcesNew Iridium Satellites Would Improve the GMDSS & Maritime Safety

New Iridium Satellites Would Improve the GMDSS & Maritime Safety

Iridium Communications Inc. recently submitted an application to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to become a Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) mobile satellite communications provider.

If the proposal is accepted and Iridium becomes a provider, the new satellite constellation would increase industry options and could improve upon the current procedures and protocols. It may also improve maritime safety.

Iridium’s New Satellite Proposal

Iridium, a global mobile voice and data satellite communications network (primarily in aviation), is proposing 66 low-earth-orbit satellites for the GMDSS. Current GMDSS safety, equipment, and communication protocols for rescuing distressed vessels are comparatively complex and inefficient. Iridium has devised this new system to help meet the maritime industry’s constantly rising communications requirements.

The new satellites would have global coverage, even in Polar regions, which the shipping companies are using more and more for shipping and trade routes. “Iridium’s network provides the reliability, coverage and functionality designed to ensure that vessels’ safety and operational communications needs are met, no matter where they operate around the world,” according to an Iridium press release.

Benefits of Iridium’s GMDSS Services

As aforementioned, increased reliability and coverage are two of the features the new services would have.

Additionally, two other primary benefits stand out:

  • Efficiency – in order to meet GMDSS reporting requirements, ship operators currently have to carry and maintain multiple communications systems. One of the primary benefits Iridium’s new system is that it will provide mariners an option of a “single, affordable communications terminal to satisfy both safety and business communications requirements wherever they operate,” explains Iridium.
  • Improved function – because of technological advancements and equipment updates, vessel owners are forced to upgrade their equipment every few years. The new Iridium GMDSS terminals have a supposed lifespan of almost twenty years, thereby reducing stress and costs.


Industry Competition Improves Options for Mariners

Competition is good for the consumer; this hold true in the maritime industry. Inmarsat may have had a monopoly on GMDSS services, but if/when Iridium enters the playing field, mariners will likely begin to experience the benefits of market competition.

Iridium Director Brian Pemberton explains, “There is a distinct industry need for diversification of service provider options for maritime safety communications, which Iridium is functionally and operationally capable of providing.”

The IMO is currently considering Iridium’s pitch and is checking to make sure that mobile-satellite system meets the criteria for use in the GDMSS. It seems, though, that many officials are already on board. Admiral Robert E. Day of the U.S. Coast Guard shares: “We see Iridium’s inclusion as a GMDSS service provider as being very important to maritime safety and security on a global basis.”

Should the proposal be approved, Iridium could start providing GMDSS services by the end of 2015.

For Legal Questions about Maritime Accidents, Contact The Young Firm

To discuss your maritime accidents and your options to recover compensation for your injuries, contact our attorneys at The Young firm. We deal specifically with for maritime accidents, and are available for consultations to discuss your needs. Call us to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at 866-715-3664.

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