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Spotlight: Iridium Helps Ships in Distress

By | February 16, 2004

      Arlington, Va.-based Iridium Satellite has introduced a new range of maritime satellite communication services aimed at helping ship owners meet new International Maritime Organization (IMO) requirements for ship security and alert systems (SSAS).

      The new SSAS regulations are intended to enhance maritime security in response to a rising threat from terrorism and piracy. The regulations require most deep-sea passenger and cargo ships to be fitted with a device by July 1 that could send a message containing the ship’s ID and position when a vessel is under threat. The distress message must be activated covertly from a switch on the ship’s navigation bridge or another shipboard location. The signal then would be transmitted only to a designated authority, without being received on other ships or raising an alarm on the ship under attack.

      “Iridium’s 66-satellite constellation ensures global pole-to-pole coverage with no reliance on regional infrastructure or ground routing, and communications security is ensured through our robust data protocols,” said Christina Clifton, Iridium’s executive vice president of sales and marketing.

      Iridium provides several options for sending SSAS messages through its global satellite network, using short burst data (SBD), short messaging service (SMS) or circuit switched data protocols. Calls are routed through public switched telephone networks, virtual private networks or the Internet. The SSAS terminal can be programmed during installation to meet each ship owner’s unique needs.

      –Paul Dykewicz

      (Will Kraus, Iridium Satellite, 703/465-1031)

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