[Satellite TODAY 05-26-11] Iridium is offering free calls from ships to naval forces, the company announced May 25.
This is a new component of Iridium’s program for combating piracy at sea, a recurring problem for shipping operators. Effective immediately, all calls from ships equipped with Iridium’s communications terminals to the U.K. Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) center are now free of charge.
The UKMTO office in Dubai is the primary point of contact between merchant shipping and naval forces patrolling the danger zone off the Somali coast. UKMTO has direct communication to all naval assets in the area and plays a key role in coordinating the naval response when pirates board and attack ships.
Ships are increasingly using ‘citadels,’ where crew members can take refuge and wait safely for rescue when pirates board. A key element in the citadel strategy is a stand-alone, secure Iridium communications link to the outside world, so the crew can connect with the military forces to coordinate rescue operations. Several companies within the Iridium partner ecosystem offer citadel communication packages with a concealed external satellite antenna and cabling that cannot be easily disabled by the pirates on the ship.