Inmarsat steps closer to IMO safety communications approval

The role of Inmarsat as the sole provider of satellite technology performing to Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) standards is set for advancement, after an International Maritime Organization (IMO) Sub Committee decided to greenlight consideration of both FleetBroadband and Fleet One for formal approval.

To date, Inmarsat is the only company which has received approval from the IMO to provide the GMDSS data and messaging communications on which mariners rely in the last resort, currently via Inmarsat C and Fleet 77 services.

IMO delegates tasked with modernising GMDSS at a Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR) Sub-Committee meeting in March, agreed that FleetBroadband should undergo the necessary and technical assessment by IMSO (International Mobile Satellite Organization), with a report provided for consideration by the next NCSR in 2018.

According to an assessment offered by the IMO’s UK delegation, FleetBroadband has achieved availability surpassing the 99.9 per cent required for GMDSS by IMO in every year since January 2010.

Operating on L-band via the Inmarsat fleet of four I-4 satellites, Inmarsat FleetBroadband terminals are equipped with the same GMDSS functionality as Inmarsat C. Today, around 160,000 Inmarsat C terminals are installed on ships operating worldwide.

NCSR was satisfied that Inmarsat had met the last Maritime Safety Committee’s request to offer detail of outstanding matters to IMSO. This had opened the way for FleetBroadband’s approval to progress, Broadhurst said.

With the same global coverage as FleetBroadband, Fleet One offers business-critical applications, simultaneous voice and SMS, plus Inmarsat’s free ‘505’ safety service for direct connection to a Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC).