An anti-piracy initiative
As part of its anti-piracy initiative Iridium reports that it has made all calls from ships equipped with its communications terminals to the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) centre free of charge, effective immediately.
The UKMTO office in Dubai is the primary point of contact between merchant shipping and naval forces patrolling the high piracy risk zone off the Somali coast.
UKMTO has direct communication to all naval assets in the area and plays a key role in coordinating the naval response when pirates board and attack ships.
Under Iridium’s calling plan, all calls to the UKMTO +971 number will be connected through the Iridium network free of charge.
“As a service to our important maritime customers, we strongly support the improvement of communications for ships who may encounter piracy,” said Dan Mercer, vice president and general manager, Europe, Middle East, Africa & Russia, Iridium.
“Recognising that Iridium can provide a critical communications lifeline in a potentially life-threatening situation, it is our responsibility to support the crew by removing any barriers to free and open communication with authorities.”
Iridium notes that it has been working with its partners to outfit an increasing number of ships with ‘citadels,’ where crews can take refuge and wait safely when pirates board.
A key element in the citadel strategy is a stand-alone, secure communications link to the outside world, so the crew can connect with rescue operations.
Several companies are now offering citadel communication packages with a concealed external satellite antenna and cabling that cannot be easily disabled by the pirates on the ship.
“The anti-piracy patrol zone is so large that naval forces are seldom able to come to the aid of a vessel under attack before the pirates take over the ship,” said Michael Capocchi, president and CEO of Beam Communications, one of the companies offering Iridium-based citadel solutions.
“It becomes difficult, if not impossible, for a rescue attempt to be made without endangering the lives of the hostages. This is why it is critically important for military authorities to confirm that all crewmembers are safely barricaded inside the citadel before any attempt can be made to storm the ship.”
Source: Digital Ship