Iridium Recognized as Maritime Distress Services Provider
Tuesday, May 22, 2018 | Comments

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) recognized that the Iridium Communications network meets the criteria needed to provide mobile satellite services in the Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS).

The recognition makes Iridium the second recognized GMDSS provider; Inmarsat is the only other recognized GMDSS provider.

The announcement ends a decades-long satellite industry monopoly in which only one company was authorized to provide satellite GMDSS service, and for the first time will bring competition and global coverage to mariners sailing any of the world’s oceans, Iridium said in a statement.

The MSC also agreed that Iridium and the United States, the delegation sponsoring Iridium’s application at the IMO, will work with the International Mobile Satellite Organization (IMSO), which will monitor progress in Iridium’s implementation of the service. The IMSO will report to the MSC once a public services agreement is formalized between Iridium and the IMSO, likely marking the start of this service.

“This is a historic moment for the maritime industry and an honor for Iridium to be the second ever recognized provider for GMDSS services,” said Bryan Hartin, executive vice president, Iridium. “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.”

Iridium formally began the process to become a recognized GMDSS mobile satellite service provider in April 2013. Iridium plans to begin providing GMDSS service in early 2020.

“This has been a long time coming, and we are ecstatic to gain this very important recognition from the IMO,” said Matt Desch, Iridium CEO. “We are equally proud to ensure mariners will have access to this critical system from anywhere in the world that they sail. Iridium has established itself as a trusted maritime safety provider for over a decade, and this recognition is a testament to both that trust and the capabilities offered by our satellite network.”

Iridium is scheduled May 22 to launch its sixth Iridium NEXT mission with SpaceX, delivering five more Iridium NEXT satellites to low Earth orbit (LEO) as part of the continuing upgrade to its existing satellite network. The Iridium network is a constellation of 66 LEO cross-linked satellites that provide reliable, low-latency satellite communications to the entire world, including the poles.

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