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Subelement A
General Information and System Overview.
Section 1
Fundamental Concepts
What is the fundamental concept of the GMDSS?
  • Correct Answer
    GMDSS utilizes automated systems and satellite technology to improve emergency communications for the world’s shipping industry.
  • It is intended to automate and improve existing digital selective calling procedures and techniques.
  • It is intended to provide more effective but lower cost commercial communications.
  • It is intended to provide compulsory vessels with a collision avoidance system when they are operating in waters that are also occupied by non-compulsory vessels.

What is the fundamental concept of the GMDSS?

(A).   GMDSS utilizes automated systems and satellite technology to improve emergency communications for the world’s shipping industry.

For the shipping industry, GMDSS utilizes automated systems and satellite technology to improve emergency communications.

The GMDSS system eliminated manual monitoring for distress signals by automating and enhancing the existing the DSC, digital selective calling procedures to alert the search and rescue authorities on land and all vessels in the immediate area.

It replaced the old manual Morse code and radio telephone communication.

See Wikipedia's article on Global Maritime Distress and Safety System

Also, see FCC article on Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS)

For more information, please see the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for the article on Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS)

The USCG National Center of Expertise pdf document titled GLOBAL MARITIME DISTRESS AND SAFETY SYSTEM (GMDSS) Guide for CG Marine Inspectors & Port State Control Examiners

Resource: U.S. Dept of Homeland Security, U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Center, has a great collection of documents, as a resource for more information, called General GMDSS Documents. All documents are in a pdf format.

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The primary purpose of the GMDSS is:
  • Allow more effective control of SAR situations by vessels.
  • Correct Answer
    Automate and improve emergency communications for the world's shipping industry.
  • Provide additional shipboard systems for more effective company communications.
  • Effective and inexpensive communications.

The primary purpose of the GMDSS is:

(B).   Automate and improve emergency communications for the world's shipping industry.

For the shipping industry, GMDSS utilizes automated systems and satellite technology to improve emergency communications.

The GMDSS system eliminated manual monitoring for distress signals by automating and enhancing the existing the DSC, digital selective calling procedures to alert the search and rescue authorities on land and all vessels in the immediate area.

It replaced the old manual Morse code and radio telephone communication.

See Wikipedia's article on Global Maritime Distress and Safety System

Also, see FCC article on Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS)

For more information, please see the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for the article on Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS)

The USCG National Center of Expertise pdf document titled GLOBAL MARITIME DISTRESS AND SAFETY SYSTEM (GMDSS) Guide for CG Marine Inspectors & Port State Control Examiners

Resource: U.S. Dept of Homeland Security, U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Center, has a great collection of documents, as a resource for more information, called General GMDSS Documents. All documents are in a pdf format.

Last edited by markadlerdallas. Register to edit

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What is the basic concept of GMDSS?
  • Shoreside authorities will rely on reports from nearby vessels to become aware of Distress alerts.
  • Shoreside authorities and vessels can assist in a coordinated SAR operation only after the correct chain of DSC relays takes place.
  • Correct Answer
    SAR authorities ashore can be alerted to a Distress situation & shipping in the vicinity can be requested to participate in SAR operations.
  • SAR authorities ashore wait to have EPIRB Distress alerts confirmed by satellite follow-on communications.

The GMDSS system uses digital selective calling procedures to alert the search and rescue authorities, RCC (rescue coordination center) and JSRC (joint search and rescue centers) on land and all vessels in the immediate area.

IMO info on SAR

Great presentation on SAR from ICAO

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GMDSS is primarily a system based on:
  • Ship-to-ship Distress communications using MF or HF radiotelephony.
  • VHF digital selective calling from ship to shore.
  • Distress, Urgency and Safety communications carried out by the use of narrow-band direct printing telegraphy.
  • Correct Answer
    The linking of search and rescue authorities ashore with shipping in the immediate vicinity of a ship in Distress or in need of assistance.

The GMDSS system uses digital selective calling procedures to alert the search and rescue authorities, RCC (rescue coordination center) and JSRC (joint search and rescue centers) on land and all vessels in the immediate area.

Four stages of escalation:

  • Normal Operation
  • Abnormal Operation
  • Distress Tracking
  • Response & Recovery

IMO info on SAR

Great presentation on SAR from ICAO

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What is the responsibility of compulsory GMDSS vessels?
  • Correct Answer
    Every vessel must be able to perform communications functions essential for its own safety and the safety of other vessels.
  • Vessels must transmit a DSC distress relay upon receipt of a DSC distress alert.
  • Only the vessels closest to a Distress incident must render assistance.
  • Vessels must immediately acknowledge all DSC distress alerts.

From UN Food and Agriculture on GMDSS:

"Under the GMDSS, all cargo ships of 300 gross registered tonnes and upwards, and all passenger ships engaged on international voyages, must be fitted with radio equipment that conforms to international standards as set out in the system.

The basic concept is that search and rescue authorities ashore, as well as vessels in the immediate vicinity of the ship in distress, will be rapidly alerted through satellite and terrestrial communication techniques so that they can assist in a co-ordinated search and rescue operation with the minimum of delay."

UN info on GDMSS

IMO info on SAR

Great presentation on SAR from ICAO

Last edited by markadlerdallas. Register to edit

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GMDSS is required for which of the following?
  • All vessels capable of international voyages.
  • Correct Answer
    SOLAS Convention ships of 300 gross tonnage or more.
  • Vessels operating outside of the range of VHF coast radio stations.
  • Coastal vessels of less than 300 gross tons.

GMDSS is required for which of the following?

(B).   SOLAS Convention ships of 300 gross tonnage or more.

From UN Food and Agriculture on GMDSS:

"Under the GMDSS, all cargo ships of 300 gross registered tonnes and upwards, and all passenger ships engaged on international voyages, must be fitted with radio equipment that conforms to international standards as set out in the system.

The basic concept is that search and rescue authorities ashore, as well as vessels in the immediate vicinity of the ship in distress, will be rapidly alerted through satellite and terrestrial communication techniques so that they can assist in a co-ordinated search and rescue operation with the minimum of delay."

The USCG National Center of Expertise pdf document titled GLOBAL MARITIME DISTRESS AND SAFETY SYSTEM (GMDSS) Guide for CG Marine Inspectors & Port State Control Examiners

For more information about SOLAS itself, please see the IMO, International Maritime Organization for the article on SOLAS, and the article on the SAR Search and Rescue Agreement

Also, see the well-illustrated and comprehensive pdf presentation from the ICAO site titled SAR Best Practices

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