Inmarsat launches free shore-to-ship voice calling for RCCs

by Staff Reporter | March 6th, 2012

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Inmarsat has launched free shore-to-ship priority voice calling for rescue co-ordination centres (RCC) over its FleetBroadband and existing and evolved services, including Inmarsat B, Fleet F77/55/33 and Mini M.

The service allows a maritime RCC to place a priority voice call to any ship equipped with Inmarsat equipment, with the space segment of the call being free of charge.

To place a call the RCC dials a unique number. They are then asked to enter their account number (PIN), followed by the phone number of the Inmarsat maritime terminal they wish to contact. The telephone call will then be placed with distress priority.

Marine safety

All RCCs associated with Inmarsat services have been issued with PIN numbers.

“Safety communications remains at the heart of Inmarsat, and this latest addition to our portfolio goes one step further to making mariners’ lives safer,” said Peter Blackhurst, Inmarsat head of maritime safety services.

“When it comes to delivering safety services, no other network can match the global reach and breadth of services we offer.”

GMDSS cornerstone

Inmarsat is the satellite communications cornerstone of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), and has been since its inception in 1992 under the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention.

All of the GMDSS-compatible services are equipped with a distress button that, depending on the service being used, sets up a distress priority voice call direct to a MRCC on shore or sends an automatic distress alert message. GMDSS-compliant services include Inmarsat B, Inmarsat C, Mini C and Fleet 77.

Inmarsat’s maritime safety services portfolio for its FleetBroadband family of terminals – the FB500, FB250 and FB150 – include:

Distress priority voice calls – available for all FleetBroadband terminals upgraded with a distress alarm panel, which includes a red distress button, and suitable software. This enables distress priority calls to be made to a suitable RCC based on the geographic position of the vessel.

Urgency voice calls – comprising calls for medical advice, medical help and maritime assistance. They are made by dialling one of three two-digit codes, depending on the type of urgency call required. Urgency priority calls are free of charge.

Distress and urgency calls utilise pre-emption and prioritisation in both directions – ensuring that maritime safety calls are always connected. They are currently not SOLAS-approved.

505 Emergency Calling – a free short-code dialling facility providing access to maritime assistance. Seafarers dial ‘505’ and their call will be routed to one of three strategically located MRCCs. It is available on all FleetBroadband terminals from all manufacturers, as well as the FleetPhone Oceana 800.

FleetBroadband safety voice services are available globally and are, according to Inmarsat, ideal for small to medium-sized vessels in the merchant, leisure and fishing sectors.

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