A year after completing launch of their Iridium-NEXT constellation, the Iridium Corporation has marked a major milestone with certification of the constellation for use in the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).
The certification ends a monopoly on the GMDSS previously held by Inmarsat and opens up the system for use globally, including in the lucrative and emerging Arctic Ocean shipping lanes as a result of climate change.
In short, the GMDSS serves as a lifeline from ship to shore when a vessel is in distress — defined as when a vessel is threatened by serious and/or imminent danger and requires immediate assistance.
Full implementation of the GMDSS — “full” in this case meaning its operation in all ocean areas except the Arctic and Antarctic regions — occurred on 1 February 1999; but its roots trace back more than a hundred years.
In 1912, the sinking of the RMS Titanic on its maiden voyage highlighted the need for the world’s maritime powers to improve ship distress and international shipping safety.
In 1914, the world’s maritime nations agreed a process that eventually led to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), the International Maritime Organisation and, ...