FleetBroadband moves closer to GMDSS approval

Apr 07 2017

The role of Inmarsat as the sole provider of satellite technology performing to Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) standards is set to move forward.

This comes after an IMO sub-committee decided to give a green light to 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 seafarers rely in the last resort, currently supplied via Inmarsat C and Fleet 77 services.
IMO delegates tasked with modernising GMDSS at the 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 Organisation), with a report provided for consideration by the next NCSR meeting in 2018.

According to an assessment offered by the IMO’s UK delegation, FleetBroadband has achieved availability surpassing the 99.9% required for GMDSS by IMO in every year since January, 2010.
Operating on L-Band, via the Inmarsat fleet of four I-4 satellites, 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.
“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,” said Peter Broadhurst, Inmarsat maritime senior vice president, safety and security. “Our continuing commitment to investment in L-Band includes the development of a new maritime safety terminal (MST) to enable easier functionality, standardised interface and information rich safety data.”
GMDSS capabilities have been supported solely by Inmarsat since its inception on 1st February, 1999. “Safety is a cornerstone of all Inmarsat services to the maritime community,” said Broadhurst. “It’s in our DNA.”
He added that the paper submitted to IMO by the UK delegation had noted that FleetBroadband effectively complies with GMDSS, while offering enhanced safety and distress features. NCSR was satisfied that Inmarsat had met the last Maritime Safety Committee’s (MSC) request to offer detail of outstanding matters to IMSO. This had opened the way for FleetBroadband’s approval to progress, Broadhurst explained.
“The ability of FleetBroadband to deliver the maritime safety data service (MSDS) will be a direct and clear net safety benefit for ships at sea,” Broadhurst added. “IMO can now move swiftly forward with its approval process, so that Inmarsat FleetBroadband terminals can be formally considered against resolution A1001.25 - the GMDSS mobile satellite communication systems criteria for which Inmarsat C is approved.”

The NCSR also agreed that Fleet One services from Inmarsat merited technical consideration to assess their inclusion within GMDSS service provision. Also operating on L-Band, Fleet One meets the need for low data usage for commercial and leisure customers across any vessel size. With the same global coverage as FleetBroadband, Fleet One offers business applications, simultaneous voice and SMS, plus Inmarsat’s free ‘505’ safety service for direct connection to a Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC).  

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