ORBCOMM have announced the formal withdrawal of IsatM2M satellite services with effect from 31 December 2020.
Namely, ORBCOMM has committed to extend the service on a “best efforts basis” until 31 December 2021, but will not be covering the Inmarsat I3 Pacific Ocean Region.
This will lead to ships using Skywave DMR-800 terminals “going dark” on LRIT when operating in North Pacific Ocean, Bering Sea, Sea of Okhotsk, Philippine Sea, Coral Sea, Tasman Sea, and South Pacific Ocean after 31 December 2020.
While ORBCOMM have stated that the remaining IsatM2M service will continue on a “best efforts basis”, in spite of the risk of aging network elements, there is still a concern that the IsatM2M service may prove insufficient for crucial position reporting services, even outside of the Pacific Ocean Region and there is information that the IsatM2M service may be subject to transmission gaps.
If a ship is using the IsatM2M satellite service (Skywave DMR-800) to comply with the requirements of SOLAS V/19-1 (LRIT) the ship owner should:
- Replace the Skywave DMR-800 unit with a suitable Inmarsat or Iridium unit not later than 31 December 2020 if the ship is operating, or expected to operate, in the Inmarsat I3 Pacific Ocean Region;
- Replace the Skywave DMR-800 unit with a suitable Inmarsat or Iridium unit as soon as possible if the ship is not operating, nor expected to operate, in the Inmarsat I3 Pacific Ocean Region. In no case should this replacement be later than 31 December 2021.
- Ship owners are reminded that all replacement LRIT units will need to be conformance tested and a Conformance Test Report issued before they can be integrated into the LRIT system.
Ships using Inmarsat C or Iridium satellite services to comply with SOLAS V/19-1 (LRIT) are not affected by the withdrawal of IsatM2M satellite service.
Ships which use IsatM2M satellite services to comply with SOLAS XI-2/6 (SSAS) should also replace their SSAS terminals within the timeframes given in 2.1.1 and 2.1.2 above.