Security: Ship Security Alert Systems (SSAS)

Monday, March 08, 2004

The new Ship Security and Alert Systems (SSAS) regulations were adopted by International Maritime Organization (IMO) to enhance maritime security in response to the increasing threat from terrorism and piracy. After July 1, 2004, most deep-sea passenger and cargo ships must be fitted with a device that can send an alert message containing the ship's ID and position whenever the ship is under threat or has been compromised. The distress message must be activated covertly from a switch on the navigation bridge or other shipboard location, and transmitted only to the designated authority without being received on other ships or raising an alarm on the ship under attack.

Thrane & Thrane offer the TT-3000SSAS Capsat Ship Security Alert System, based on the well-known and reliable Inmarsat-C service, known for its unique role in maritime safety and for more than a decade an integral part of the IMO's GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System). It has been developed by Thrane & Thrane to supply customers with a system that fulfils the new SOLAS requirements from IMO.

The new SOLAS resolution 6 states that the Ship Security Alert System shall provide ships with two alarm buttons, which can be activated in case of a piracy or terrorist attack. The alarm is a covert signal, which will have no sound and no flashing lights so that it is in no way obvious to any intruders on board the ship.

Among a long list of other features, Capsat Ship Security Alert System offers the opportunity to use additional fleet tracking software, which will enhance Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) and fleet tracking possibilities.

Iridium Satellite introduced a new range of maritime satellite communication services providing cost-effective solutions for shipowners to meet the new IMO requirements for SSAS. "The IMO performance standards for SSAS are very broad, so as to allow for different technical solutions," said Christina Clifton, executive vice president, sales and marketing, for Iridium. "Iridium's SSAS solutions provide the shipowner with a flexible array of choices to meet the IMO carriage requirements and flag administration specifications. Importantly, with Iridium, the SSAS alert messages are routed directly to the designated authority specified by the flag state." 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, with calls routed through public switched telephone networks, virtual private networks or the Internet. The SSAS terminal can be programmed at installation, based on the shipowner's service plan and flag requirements. Iridium SSAS units are available from a variety of service equipment manufacturers.

The eTrac SSAS is from KVH Industries, Inc. The small, integrated eTrac SSAS uses the Inmarsat mini-C communication system and real-time GPS position reporting to provide alert messaging capabilities aboard vessels worldwide. Initially developed to help commercial vessel owners and crews maximize their safety and meet strict new IMO and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) regulations, the eTrac SSAS also serves as an excellent resource for passengers and crews of private yachts, enabling them to send instant alerts in response to danger, such as terrorism, piracy, or vessel distress. The KVH eTrac SSAS stands less than 6-in. high and weighs only 2.4 lbs. The eTrac SSAS antenna is a fully integrated system, containing a transceiver, antenna, and a 12-channel GPS receiver. The two panic buttons can be placed as far as 165 ft. away from an interconnection box to make sure an alert can easily be sounded should the need arise. With no monthly subscriptions or transmission costs for emergency messages, eTrac SSAS offers an extremely low lifetime cost.

Sailor's SSAS meets the SOLAS requirements by IMO. Based on the Inmarsat C system, the new Sailor H3000M SSA Mini-C solution offers a wide range of communications services providing a SSAS solution.

The Sailor H3000M SSA Mini-C also provides traditional Inmarsat-C services, such as position reporting and polling, e-mail, fax, telex, X.25 data files and mobile-to-mobile communication. The Sailor H3000M SSA Mini-C is a unique Inmarsat Mini-C system, comprising a transceiver, antenna and 12-channel GPS receiver in one single unit. When one of the Alert Buttons is activated, the Sailor H3000M SSA Mini-C transmits an alert to an Inmarsat Land Earth Station (LES). The alert message is then forwarded to a pre-defined recipient, typically the Search and Rescue Center in the vessel's country of registration. The message includes ship identification as well as its position.

Satamatics launched of Ocean Alert, an ultra-compact Ship Security Alert System (SSAS) that enables full compliance with all SOLAS XI-2/6 mandatory SSAS regulations and performance standards. Centered around Satamatics' innovative SAT 101 miniature satellite terminal, Ocean Alert is designed to provide the maritime industry with an important, cost-effective tool to meet the new regulations for Ship Security Alert Systems. Ocean Alert provides global coverage and fully automatic roaming across all the world's ocean regions. Ocean Alert also provides fleet operators with a vital long-range tracking capability, suitable for future vessel monitoring requirements Ocean Alert combines location tracking with security monitoring. Sealed and certified to IP66, for operation above decks in heavy seas, Ocean Alert's compact and easily concealable antenna maintains reliable communications with satellites at elevations as low as just five degrees above the horizon. Satamatics' Ocean Alert allows a totally covert installation, while ensuring unrivalled levels of operational performance.

Skanti introduced a ship security alert system based on the Inmarsat Satellite Network. In addition to the Ship Security Alert System, the Skanti Scansat Mini-CTM SSA features well-known Inmarsat C services, such as position reporting and polling, e-mail, fax, telex, X.25 data files and mobile-to-mobile communication.The Skanti Scansat Mini-CTM SSA transmits an alert to an Inmarsat Land Earth Station when the alert button is pressed. The alert message is then forwarded to a pre-defined recipient, usually the Search and Rescue Center in the vessel's country of registration. The alert message specifies the vessel's identification and position. The recipeients are updated on this information frequently, because the Skanti Scansat Mini-CT-M SSA transmits the message continually at programmed intervals until de-activated. Skanti also unveiled the SSA for the Iridum system.

The Tracs-Ships' Security Alert System (SSAS) was launched by Thales Navigation Ltd. The unit is based on the Thales Inmarsat-C tracking unit that has been refined to exceed the IMO specifications for SSAS units. Tracs-SSAS introduces a unique feature that can provide land-based security organizations with ship movement information that has been unobtainable until now. The Thales Tracs-SSAS tracks and stores the vessel's location continuously regardless of whether an alarm button has been pressed. As with conventional SSAS units, the vessel location information will only be transmitted to the designated authority when it has been activated. However, the stored information can be called-up and made available to the shipping company for its own management purposes and, more significantly, it can also be called-up by a Coast Guard or security organization wanting to verify the ship's port of origin.

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