GLOBAL MARITIME DISTRESS AND SAFETY SYSTEM
Fifteen years ago the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a United Nations agency specializing in safety of shipping and preventing ships from polluting the seas, began looking at ways of improving maritime distress and safety communications. In 1979, a group of experts drafted the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, which called for development of a global search and rescue plan. This group also passed a resolution calling for development of a Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), to provide the communication support needed to implement the search and rescue plan. This system, which the world's maritime nations, including the United States, have implemented, is based upon a combination of satellite and terrestrial radio services, and has changed international distress communications from being primarily ship-to-ship based to primarily ship-to-shore (Rescue Coordination Center) based. Recently an effort is being made to review the GMDSS in order to modernize the system. This effort will result in adoption of new technology and improved search and rescue.
For more information, visit the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Global Maritime and Distress Safety Systems Overview and/or download a GMDSS Inspection Checklist.