The application will now proceed to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) at its next meeting in November. A group of experts will then carry out a technical and operational evaluation, and their report will be reviewed by the NCSR sub-committee before the MSC decides whether to grant final approval.
"This is a victory for Iridium and the maritime industry," said Iridium's CEO Matt Desch, after the NCSR sub-committee advanced the application to the following stage of evaluation.
"The overwhelming support for our application to provide the industry an alternative and equally capable option for GMDSS services is a testament to the value and benefit the Iridium network can provide to maritime safety."
Without naming Inmarsat, Iridium notes that "the incumbent GMDSS provider is not able to provide service" in the Polar regions, which are only covered by its own constellation of 66 Low Earth Orbit inter-connected satellites.
Iridium, which will begin deploying its second generation constellation (Iridium NEXT) in 2015, says that in anticipation of IMO recognition it is working with equipment manufacturers for the production and certification of GMDSS terminals that use its network.
Once approved, the shipboard terminals will meet both the GMDSS and operational communications needs of a vessel, says Iridium, which expects them to be available before the end of 2015.