Following a comprehensive review of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), the IMO MSC 105 adopted a set of amendments to complete the work on modernization of the GMDSS and to enable the future use of modern communication systems in the GMDSS whilst removing obsolete requirements.
Communications between ships and shore, and search and rescue (SAR) at sea, depend on the integrated satellite and terrestrial radiocommunication system in the GMDSS. The GMDSS revision has been aimed at enabling the use of modern communication systems, while removing requirements to carry obsolete systems
During the IMO MSC 105 session it was informed that the amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2024. They include amendments to SOLAS chapters II-1, III, IV and V, and the appendix (Certificates); the 1988 SOLAS Protocol; the 1994 and 2000 HSC Codes; the 1983 and 2008 SPS Codes; and the 1979, 1989 and 2009 MODU Codes.
The MSC 105 also adopted a substantial number of amendments or revisions to existing related resolutions and guidelines, including performance standards for relevant equipment.
What is the GMDSS?
GMDSS is an international system which uses land-based and satellite technology, aiming to ensure rapid, automated, alerting of shore based communication and rescue authorities, in addition to ships in the immediate vicinity, in the event of a marine distress.
It was adopted by the IMO in 1988 and entered into force on 1 February 1992 with a phase-in period extending until 1 February 1999. As the phase-in period has now passed, all ships are now subject to the full GMDSS carriage and maintenance requirements.
Dissemination of MSI and SAR-related information over multiple GMDSS recognized mobile satellite services
The MSC 105 considered the report of the Correspondence Group on Dissemination of Maritime Safety Information (MSI) and Search and Rescue (SAR)-related information, established at MSC 103 to consider the mandatory use of all recognized mobile satellite services that provide services within the service area for dissemination of information by MSI and SAR information providers, as well as options to address cost implications for information providers concerning the dissemination of information over multiple GMDSS mobile satellite services.
In addition, the MSC 105 agreed that dissemination of MSI and SAR related information was an integral service of the GMDSS and critical to preserving the safety of life at sea and, therefore, once a mobile satellite service was recognized by the Organization, it must then be used by all information providers covering its service area. The Committee also urged MSI and SAR information providers to take the necessary actions to expedite the use of all mobile satellite services recognized by the Organization providing services within their service areas for the dissemination of information to ships navigating in those areas.