Strengthening our maritime distress system

​The importance of an international service relying on satellites to transmit distress signals at sea will be reinforced this year as modernisation efforts continue apace.

February 01, 2019

The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) is an internationally agreed set of safety procedures, equipment and communications protocols that save lives at sea by making it easier to rescue distressed vessels.

GMDSS saves lives; the system uses terrestrial and satellite radio signals to alert shore-based Rescue Coordination centres, as well as ships and vessels in the vicinity, within three minutes if a vessel is in distress.

20 years after it was first developed and implemented through the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), GMDSS is on track for modernisation this year as progress is made to update its satellites and implement GMDSS as a true global service.

A meeting of the IMO sub-committee that oversees GMDSS meets this week to discuss progress on work and, once operational and regulatory hurdles have been overcome, the development will help strengthen GMDSS and ensure its continued relevance for the Australian and Asia Pacific maritime industry.

At AMC Search, GMDSS Certification and GMDSS Renewal courses are taught by Sanjiv Bhatia, an experienced maritime lecturer who combines teaching with crewing on bulk carriers, tankers and passenger ships.

Bhatia explains that it’s vital for mariners to be well trained on GMDSS and familiar with the system.

“While the GMDSS system is designed to be intuitive, it does require regular maintenance and testing to make sure that the one time you need it is working well. Hence all mariners must have training in how to test and use the system and to avoid sending false distress messages which waste a lot of time and effort.”

To support the training and ongoing certification of mariners in Australia, AMC Search has expanded its GMDSS training and is now offering courses in Darling Harbour, Sydney, as well as Launceston, Tasmania.

As well as easier access at a choice of location for those across the country – and internationally – students have access to the country’s best equipped GMDSS training facilities, explains Bhatia.

“AMC Search has THE best GMDSS simulator in Australia.

“This simulator can simulate all the GMDSS equipment on ships from Legacy DOS based systems (which are still in lots of ships) to the latest touch screen icon-based systems.

“The simulator also has shore-based radio stations. The students not only get extensive theory lessons they also get hands on experience using all the GMDSS equipment, communicating to other ships as well as to shore based radio stations.”

The new Maritime Simulation Unit has been installed in our Sydney study centre, and Launceston students will train on a state-of-the-art live GMDSS lab.

Find out more about our first course, GMDSS Renewal, starting Feb 18th in Launceston.

Find out more about our Maritime Simulations Unit