Maritime safety alert report published

Inmarsat has published a new report, The Future of Maritime Safety, which contains a detailed analysis of Global Maritime Distress and Safety Services (GMDSS) alerts from vessels, suggesting that reactive red button GMDSS safety services are already looking outdated and proactive automated safety is the way forward.

The report examines GMDSS distress call data gathered between 2018-2020, containing analyses of the alert patterns at both local and global levels.

The published data shows tankers overtaking fishing vessels as generating the highest number of alerts with 122 calls in 2020. There was also a high frequency of alerts from coastal waters which was interpreted as being primarily caused by older vessels.

The number of distress calls from bulk carriers and container ships remained largely consistent over the three-year period, although the former witnessed a distinct cluster in the Yellow Sea between China, North Korea and South Korea, while the latter saw a spike in East Asia as Covid-19 unfolded in 2020.

Peter Broadhurst, senior vice president at Inmarsat Maritime, said: “We believe that the creation of an online anonymised data lake of safety information will allow us to identify weak spots and solutions, allocate resources and measure progress towards enhanced safety. Where safety is concerned, data should be shared to create a level playing field for the entire industry.”

Andrew Cox

During the 1990s, Dr Andrew Cox was the editor of UK Coal Review and was a regular writer and commentator on the international coal trade and related infrastructure developments. Post-2000, he has been a freelance writer, CPD trainer and project consultant. He focuses on developments in the energy, chemicals, shipping and port sectors.


  1. GMDSS was obscelete when it was introduced. I term it “Sparkies Revenge”, devised in spite by radio officers who’d been made redundant. I dont know the stats but suspect the ratio of genuine alerts to false ones is in the tens of thousands.

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