You are here

IMO considers additions to global ship positioning system

IMO considers additions to global ship positioning system
Martyn Wingrove 17 Jan 2020

Japanese and Indian satellites could become part of the recognised worldwide maritime radio navigation system if they meet IMO safety and performance criteria

IMO’s Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR 7) is currently meeting in London to discuss regulations, amendments and technology updates to improve maritime safety.

During these meetings, NCSR 7 received information on the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), as part of the process of updating the global radio navigation system.

The Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) provides position, navigation, and timing (PNT) information for vessels worldwide from the US-funded Global Positioning System (GPS), Russia’s Glonass, European Union’s Galileo and China’s Beidou.

IRNSS already provides PNT information from its regional NAVIC constellation of satellites and wants to be formally recognised by IMO for maritime GNSS.

NAVIC consists of seven satellites, but IRNSS plans to increase that to 11 and provide a more global service in the next five years.

India launches its own satellites using polar satellite launch vehicles (PSLV) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. Its latest, and 74th launch used PSLV-C47 to place 13 commercial nanosatellites and the Cartosat-3 satellite into orbit on 27 November 2019.

Japan’s Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) is another independent GPS-type constellation looking for IMO’s GNSS recognition. It operates four satellites providing PNT information in the Asia-Oceania region, with plans to double this by 2024.

NCSR 7 will consider QZSS submissions, including information for developing performance standards for QZSS equipment, with a view to its future recognition.

GNSS information is used by bridge systems, including ECDIS and satellite compasses, for positioning ships on electronic navigational charts and AIS equipment.

GNSS data is also used by dynamic positioning systems on drilling rigs, offshore support vessels, shuttle tankers, cruise ships and other vessels for precise positioning.

This sub-committee is also working on developing safety measures for non-SOLAS ships operating in polar waters.

The Polar Code is mandatory under SOLAS, but this excludes fishing vessels, leisure yachts, smaller ships under 500 gt and vessels on domestic voyages.

NCSR-7 is set to complete its update of the international SafetyNet services manual by 24 January. SafetyNet is an integral part of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), providing an automatic direct-printing satellite-based service to promulgate safety information and warnings.

The sub-committee is reviewing other developments in modernising GMDSS, including removing requirements to carry obsolete systems.

This comes as Iridium received a letter of compliance from the International Mobile Satellite Organization (IMSO), confirming Iridium’s constellation meets the operational and technical requirements of IMO for GMDSS.

Inmarsat provides global GMDSS services from its third and fourth generation satellites, providing safety information and emergency communications to the maritime industry.

IMO aims to finalise its GMDSS review in 2021, for submission to the Maritime Safety Committee, so SOLAS amendments can be adopted for entry into force in 2024.

NCSR 7 will also revise guidelines for vessel traffic services and consider revisions to guidelines on places of refuge for ships in need of assistance.

There are sessions to review proposed amended ship routeing measures, discuss matters relating to the functioning and operation of long-range identification and tracking and prepare liaison statements to the International Telecommunications Union.

NCSR 7 meets between 15-24 January at IMO’s offices in London.