IMO gives approval for Iridium to provide GMDSS breaking Inmarsat monopoly

Inmarsat's monopoly on satelllite provision of the mandatory Global Maritime Distress & Safety System (GMDSS) looks set to end with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) approving Iridium to also provide the service subject to it passing stringent tests.

The IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) has recognised that Iridium meets all the criteria to offer GMDSS and to adopt a statement of recognition proposed by the US to the committee. Subject to performance tests Iridium plans to roll out GMDSS services in 2020.

Iridium executive vice president Bryan Hartin hailed the decision saying: “This is a historic moment for the maritime industry and an honour for Iridium to be the second ever recognized provider for GMDSS services.

“This is the dawn of a new era for mariner safety. We’ll bring a new choice and upgraded capabilities for mariners along with our truly global coverage that will for the first time extend the reach of satellite-based GMDSS to even the most remote waterways.”


In potential further widening of choices in years to come the IMO also approved the request of BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS), a Chinese satellite navigation system, for evaluation of its GMDSS proposal by the IMO’s Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR) sub-committee.

Ronald Spithout, president of Inmarsat Maritime, was magnimous about the IMO's approval for Iridium to provide GMDSS. “I would like to congratulate Iridium on achieving approval from the IMO to take their GMDSS proposals to the next stage and also congratulate BeiDou Navigation Satellite System on their successful request for GMDSS evaluation by the NCSR sub-committee. We look forward to welcoming them both as GMDSS service providers in the coming years.”

Posted 23 May 2018

© Copyright 2019 Seatrade (UBM (UK) Ltd). Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Seatrade.

Marcus Hand

Editor, Seatrade Maritime News

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