GMDSS Evolving Technology

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Evolving Technology

The GMDSS and the implementation of the SAR Convention have both been made possible by advances in technology. But technology is continuing to evolve. Much of the work carried out by IMO to develop a global radio-communications system for shipping is based on a resolution adopted in 1979, which in turn took into account technology as it then existed. Since then a great deal has changed. The invention of the cellular telephone means that Vessels operating in coastal waters can contact the shore by ordinary telephone rather than VHF. This has led to reduced usage of DSC for non-safety purposes, undermining the economics of the system. However, larger vessels must have the radio equipment specified in the GMDSS regulations. For smaller vessels, not covered by the GMDSS, most coastal authorities do not recommend cellular telephones as a substitute for the marine radio distress and safety systems in the VHF maritime radio band. A VHF radio is more advantageous in that it can also help ensure that storm warning and other urgent marine information broadcasts are received. Furthermore, VHF radio can be used worldwide. Nonetheless, IMO will continue to monitor new technology and assess how it should best be used in distress and safety situations – and make recommendations accordingly so there is a global, unified approach. The components of the GMDSS The GMDSS is composed of the following sub-systems: