Waterways Policy

5/24/2018: U.S.-based Iridium to expand GMDSS to Polar regions

Written by Mr. Walter Ham, Office of Navigation Systems

By a consensus vote, the London-based International Maritime Organization (IMO) recognized U.S. Satellite Communications Company Iridium as the second service provider for Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), May 21, 2018.

This international recognition enables Iridium to enter the market for the IMO-required distress communications system alongside the current provider, United Kingdom-based Inmarsat, which has been the sole service provider since 1979.

The International Mobile Satellite Organization, which oversees the system for IMO, will work with Iridium to finalize the details of a Service Provider Agreement and address implementation details.

Expected to begin service by Jan. 1, 2020, Iridium will provide global coverage that includes both Polar Regions, a critical addition that will cover expanding Arctic shipping and polar tourism.

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.

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