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Iridium GMDSS in a first-person interview

The safety of sea-going sailors is a top priority. The Global Maritime Distress Communication System (GMDSS) was established more than twenty years ago to ensure an adequate level of maritime safety with the help of special radio equipment using satellite and terrestrial resources to send and receive distress information.

Iridium GMDSS For decades, only one company was allowed to provide GMDSS satellite services, which, of course, limited the range, capabilities and choice of captains and crew at sea. But in 2018, the situation changed when the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted the “Recognition Statement”, which states that the Iridium satellite network meets the requirements for the provision of GMDSS services.

Since receiving IMO recognition last year, Iridium continues to work closely with the GMDSS regulator and potential users of the service, focusing on an approximate launch date in January 2020. This April, the Iridium satellite operator announced the signing of a “Service Agreement” with the International Mobile Satellite Organization (IMSO), which details the conditions under which IMSO should act as a regulator of the GMDSS and oversee the services provided. Together with Iridium, for the first time in history, sailors will receive the choice of GMDSS equipment and a service provider covering one hundred percent of the world’s oceans, which will provide protection regardless of the location of the vessel.

Iridium_Kyle-Hurst_Director-Maritime Kyle Hurst, appointed Director of Iridium Maritime Safety and Security, played an important role in the implementation of the Iridium GMDSS (GMDSS) program. The following is an interview with Mr. Hurst, allowing you to learn more about the process of implementing Iridium GMDSS and at the same time about the emergence of a real choice in the marine industry:

Could you briefly explain what GMDSS is?

In essence, the GMDSS includes three key maritime security services. The first is a distress alert, and this is what most ships have today. If you are in distress, you will go to your GMDSS terminal and just press the red button for three seconds, so a short but effective piece of information will be sent to the Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) so that people know who you are, where you are, and what you endure distress. Owning this information. they will be able to help you.

The second component is a distress voice call, which is also activated by a held red button, immediately triggering a distress call to one of the RCC located around the world. The equipment on the market allows you to do this using a separate terminal. Not many vessels have an additional terminal on board and therefore do not use voice calls. This is due to outdated technology used in voice terminals, which requires replacement with more expensive ones. Therefore, at present, few vessels have access to such a service, and we, in turn, hope to change this state of things by making voice terminals more affordable economically.

The third service is MSI or the so-called maritime safety information. MSI is basically information that automatically arrives at the GMDSS terminal. There are several types of such information: these are navigation messages (or warnings), meteorological or weather warnings, and safety-related messages (about incidents or of a general nature). Another MSI-related term, EGC (Advanced Group Call), is the common name for all MSI services. When we launch our service, this part of our GMDSS services will be called Iridium SafetyCast℠.

It seems that at present, each part of the GMDSS works through a separate terminal or device. Will this be the case with Iridium equipment?

Iridium_Lars-Thrane-LT-3100S-GMDSS-v3-Alarm No We are working with our equipment manufacturer Lars-Thrane, who developed a new satellite terminal for Iridium GMDSS LT-3100S, combining all three services in one compact, seemingly very innovative device. The LT-3100S uses the Iridium 9523N transceiver, which is capable of processing both data and voice information. Our Iridium Certus transceivers, which provide even greater processing speed and throughput, are also compatible with the GMDSS, and we are working with several partners to create below-deck equipment that can be connected directly to existing Iridium Certus terminals, turning them into GMDSS terminals. It will become the Iridium standard that all Iridium satellite terminals supporting GMDSS will support all three services.

Could you tell us a little about yourself, about your past?

I grew up in Australia in a marine family. My family was fishing, so I had a small but important marine experience. After serving in the army at the age of 20, I was looking for what to do and ended up in a shark control program in Queensland /

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