The Future Of Safety-At-Sea

nization (IMO) has hailed it as the greatest invention to communications at sea since the invention of the radio. The U.S. has strongly advocated its worldwide use. Shipowners and seafarers alike should welcome its introduction. "It" is the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, or GMDSS as it is commonly called. GMDSS is among the latest electronic advancements in radio communications. Designed to aid in the identification and coordination of search and rescue efforts of all vessels on the high seas, correct operation of the system could eliminate the possibility of ships disappearing without a trace.

The system enables a ship to communicate ship-to-shore, shore-toship and ship-to-ship, within four areas of the world's oceans - far more effective than the current combination of radiotelephony and Morse code.The GMDSS concept revolv< around the premise that search ar rescue operations ashore as well i at sea close to the vessel in distrei can rapidly deploy to the area of distress incident using a coordinat* effort to minimize loss of life.

Using advanced communicatioi equipment as the nerve center f implementing such a system requir a technology which embraces sat< lites and transistor-based electro ics. Geostationary as well as pol orbiting satellites make up the ne global coverage of GMDSS. Wh not the only part of the system, si ellites play an important role in t GMDSS capability. Digital Sell tive Calling (DSC) is another k technology used in GMDSS. A Di call contains information about t vessel transmitting the call, for < ample: an identification number the ship that initiated the call, t nature of the distress and the coor nates and time of the distress. T information is broadcast to all sh on a variety of frequencies in ms bands to increase the possibility tl the message will be heard.

Over the next several years, least 250,000 ships' officers will ni training. The IMO amended Saf of Life at Sea in 1988 to implem GMDSS worldwide. According parameters set by IMO, 97 perc of the world's merchant fleet wil required to operate GMDSS by IS Eventually, fishing, recreational i small passenger ships may also n to comply. While it was first sumed that the equipment woul( easy to operate, this is not the c; There is more involved in the opi tion of GMDSS than pushing 1 tons. Knowing what equipment which frequencies and bands to in a specific situation requires s The IMO has strict recommei tions for the training of officer the use of GMDSS equipment.

The Center for Maritime Ed tion is currently raising funds t< up a GMDSS regional command tion at its training center in lc Manhattan. Spurred by a grant i the Life Saving Benevolent Ass( tion and other contributors, the < ter will begin offering a GM training course later this fall. The course, which has aln received approval from the Parn nian registry, will include classi theory explaining the system's sign, as well as practical trainii sending and receiving message ing actual equipment. Training take place in the classroom and s lator as well as at sea.

Long at the forefront of mari education and training progr the Center for Maritime Educ has often designed courses and t ing programs to assist the ind when new rules and regulatior velop regarding the introducti new maritime equipment and p dures, thus enhancingthe indiv seafarer's professional compe and promoting safety of life at The deadline for the traini ships' officers is rapidly appr ing. This is an important asp safety-at-sea that should be braced by the whole industry information about courses call 233-2242.

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