Today marks the 25th anniversary of a pivotal moment in maritime history

Today marks the 25th anniversary of a pivotal moment in maritime history

15 April 2024

Today marks the 25th anniversary of a pivotal moment in maritime history: the transformation of the International Mobile Satellite Organization (IMSO), as it is known today in its oversight and monitoring role alongside the establishment of Inmarsat Ltd.

Originally adopted in 1976, the Convention on the International Maritime Satellite Organization (INMARSAT Convention) led to the establishment of the INMARSAT Intergovernmental Organization (IGO) in 1979 to provide satellite communications specifically for the maritime community, thereby enhancing safety at sea.

Over time, INMARSAT IGO expanded its services beyond the maritime sector to include land mobile and aeronautical applications, which necessitated a restructuring to accommodate the growing commercial demand for satellite communication services.

On 15th April 1999, following years of negotiation among the then 86 Member States of the INMARSAT IGO, the restructuring culminated in the privatization of INMARSAT IGO’s commercial assets, with them being transferred to a newly created company, Inmarsat Ltd.

As part of this transition, the then INMARSAT Convention was amended, including a change of the name to IMSO. Since then, IMSO’s role has focused on overseeing the public service obligations of the then recognised mobile satellite service (RMSS) provider, Inmarsat, ensuring that it continues to provide critical safety and distress communication services under the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), in accordance with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) rules and regulations.

Recent years have seen a strategic shift towards a GMDSS multi-provider ecosystem with the recognition by IMO of Iridium as an additional RMSS provider in the GMDSS, following IMSO’s thorough and detailed assessment process. Additional RMSS providers contribute to the enhancement of maritime safety and operational efficiency on a global scale.

This 25-year milestone commemorates a quarter-century of unprecedented advancements in maritime safety and global communication, spotlighting the instrumental role of IMSO in contributing to the enhancement of the safety and security of seafarers worldwide through not only the oversight of the GMDSS but also with the auditing and reviewing of the performance of the Long-Range Identification and Tracking of ships system (LRIT).

Reflecting on this significant anniversary, IMSO Director General, Mr. Laurent Parenté expressed gratitude to the Organization’s members, partners and stakeholders for their invaluable contributions to its success. “As we celebrate 25 years since our restructuring, we acknowledge the remarkable progress we have made in contributing to maritime safety and communication services worldwide. Our dedication to commitment and collaboration remains unwavering as we continue to strive for excellence in fulfilling our mission.”

As IMSO looks ahead to the future, the Organization reaffirms its commitment to oversight but also support the RMSS providers in their quest for excellence in maritime satellite communication services.

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