Iridium not yet fully available globally

It is not yet possible to receive Maritime Safety Information (MSI) via the recognized mobile satellite service Iridium, which has been recognized by IMO since 2018. Therefore, the German Flag recommends not to rely exclusively on Iridium systems in Sea Area A3. However, distress calls can be made globally via Iridium without any problems.

For more safety at sea, the ship commands of sea-going ships covered by the SOLAS Convention are obliged to be able to transmit and receive distress calls as well as Maritime Safety Information (MSI) in the sea areas they are navigating at any time. MSI – i.e. navigational, meteorological and other safety-related information – is part of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), which has its basis in the SOLAS Convention.

In the Iridium GMDSS service of the US provider Iridium Satellite LLC, which has been recognized by IMO since 2018, distress calls can be transmitted and received globally without any limitations. However, reception of MSI via the Enhanced Group Call (EGC) of the Iridium SafetyCast Service is not yet completely possible in all sea areas. In some NAVAREASs and METAREAs (= established area for broadcasting navigational and meteorological information and warnings) Iridium is not yet operational or is in trial operation. The current status can be found on the website of the International Hydrographic Organization.

Due to the current network covering issues, shipping companies should not rely solely on Iridium systems at present. Therefore, the German Flag recommends to shipping companies with sea-going vessels navigating sea area A3 to still provide an Inmarsat EGC system (Ship Earth Station, SES) – for example as backup arrangements. Only this way can the reception of MSI via the mandatory Enhanced Group Call (EGC) be guaranteed at any time.