Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: IRDM) has announced that the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) agreed to recognize that the Iridium network meets all the criteria of the IMO needed to provide mobile satellite services in the GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System) and to adopt the “Statement of Recognition” proposed by the United States as a Committee Resolution.
This is a significant achievement that 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 truly global coverage, to mariners sailing any of the world’s oceans. 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 has been entered into between Iridium and the IMSO, likely marking the start of this service.
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. The announcement comes one day before Iridium is scheduled to launch their sixth Iridium NEXT mission with SpaceX, delivering five more Iridium NEXT satellites to LEO as part of the continuing upgrade to its existing satellite network. The launch is scheduled for May 22nd at 12:47:58 pm PDT (19:47:58 UTC). 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.
Bryan Hartin, EVP, Iridium, stated that this is a historic moment for the maritime industry and an honor for Iridium to be the second ever recognized provider for GMDSS services. This is the dawn of a new era for mariner safety. Iridium will bring a new choice and upgraded capabilities for mariners along with truly global coverage that will, for the first time, extend the reach of satellite-based GMDSS to even the most remote waterways.
Matt Desch, CEO, Iridium, added this has been a long time coming and the company is proud to ensure that 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 the company's satellite network.