For a long time, the GMDSS market was limited to only one satellite technology provider. This has changed with the introduction of the Iridium GMDSS service in December 2020. Offering truly global coverage, Iridium has become the only operator providing this type of service for vessels navigating in sea area A4, which includes the polar regions.
“Signing this partnership agreement with Iridium synchronises with our strategic vision to provide our customers with a reliable service where and when they need it the most, including the Northern Shipping Routes. The latter have a great potential to become a competitive trade channel in the near future. Cargo traffic in that area has been increasing for the past five years and this trend is here to stay,” said Dominique Audion, group chief strategy officer, IEC Telecom.
Iridium GMDSS is a life-saving service and was designed with a safety voice line to ensure efficient sea-to-shore communication. Now, in addition to sending a distress alert, with the same terminal seafarers are able to actually call the Rescue Coordination Centre and explain the nature of the emergency. This addition will significantly improve the efficiency of RCC operations and ensure that resources allocated to rescue missions are proportionate to the gravity of the situation onsite.
“We anticipate a big demand for Iridium GMDSS in the Asia-Pacific market, considering the high concentration of small and mid-sized vessels in this region. Crews on these types of vessels often have access to fewer resources than other professional mariners and are therefore exposed to a greater risk, particularly if sailing in deep waters. With an Iridium GMDSS terminal onboard, vessel owners secure better working conditions for the crew as well as increasing the likelihood for assets to be salvaged if the ship sinks,” explained Mr Audion.
With non-SOLAS class vessels in mind, Iridium GMDSS comes with a cost-effective price and intuitive interface, easy to use for seafarers of all qualifications. The LT-3100S terminal by Lars Thrane – the first system licensed for Iridium GMDSS service – initiates both Distress Alert and Safety Voice operations with the press of just one button. It is also designed to withstand harsh weather conditions, securing a reliable emergency line at all times.
“COVID had a major impact on the maritime supply chain in Europe, with the volume of port calls dropping by 13 per cent in 2020. Vessel owners are seeking innovative solutions to optimise expenditure in order to remain competitive. Iridium GMDSS caters to this demand as well, offering a more cost-effective technology when compared to the market alternatives while providing a much broader set of functionalities,” Mr Audion concluded.
Iridium GMDSS service will become commercially available via IEC Telecom starting from May 2021 and will be provided to customers across all of the flag states which have so far licensed the service.