IMO finds Inmarsat in expansive mood
Inmarsat said it has made progress on gaining IMO approval to expand mandated safety communications to its more modern services of FleetBroadband and Fleet One. It is hopeful that IMO will allow these services to become part of the global maritime distress and safety system (GMDSS) that is compulsory for shipping.
This follows last month’s formal approval by the IMO sub-committee on navigation, communications and search and rescue (NCSR) to put forward FleetBroadband and Fleet One for consideration as additions to existing GMDSS services, which are covered by the Solas convention.
Under that convention, Inmarsat is currently the only company that has received approval from IMO to provide the GMDSS data and messaging communications on which mariners rely on in emergencies. These can be accessed using Inmarsat C and Fleet 77 services. GMDSS capabilities have been supported solely by Inmarsat since its inception in February 1999.
In March this year, NCSR delegates tasked with modernising GMDSS agreed that FleetBroadband should undergo the necessary and technical assessments by the International Mobile Satellite Organization. The results of these will be reported at the NCSR 5 meeting in 2018. Inmarsat has reported to IMO that FleetBroadband has achieved availability surpassing the 99.9 per cent required for GMDSS by IMO in every year since January 2010.
These L-band services are delivered via the Inmarsat fleet of four I-4 satellites and accessed on ships through FleetBroadband terminals that are equipped with the same GMDSS functionality as Inmarsat-C. Inmarsat Maritime senior vice president for safety and security Peter Broadhurst is confident that FleetBroadband will gain formal approval by IMO.
He commented: “Given that most of FleetBroadband’s components already meet IMO performance standards, the service is on course for a formal approval, and this is very much in line with the agreed timetable for the modernisation of GMDSS.”
He added: “Our continuing commitment to investment in L-band includes the development of a new maritime safety terminal to enable easier functionality, standardised interface and information-rich safety data.”
The NCSR also agreed that Inmarsat Fleet One services merited technical consideration by IMO to assess their inclusion within GMDSS service provision as it has the same global coverage as FleetBroadband and has business-critical applications, simultaneous voice and messaging, plus Inmarsat’s free 505 safety service for direct connection to maritime rescue co-ordination centres.
IMO has to modernise GMDSS services for shipping and change sections of the Solas convention to do so. IMO is also considering the potential safety communications on a technical submission from another L-band satellite operator, Iridium, which operates a constellation of low earth orbit satellites that cover the whole globe, including the polar regions.
Wed 05 Apr 2017 by Martyn Wingrove