DPRK joins maritime satellite organization

131203-imso-logoNorth Korea recently joined an international organization that overseas safety and security satellite communications services for mariners.

The country became the 98th nation to join the International Maritime Satellite Organization (IMSO) when it acceded on October 15, according to a statement from the organization.

The IMSO is charged with overseeing public safety and security services on the Inmarsat series of satellites. Inmarsat operates a global network of satellites primarily aimed at the world’s oceans, which are areas where traditional satellite services don’t have great coverage.

Among the services under the remit of the IMSO is that of the Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) system used by ships worldwide.

Established by the International Maritime Organization in 2006, LRIT requires passenger and cargo ships automatically report their identity and location at least four times a day. The system was intended to aid in the global identification and tracking of ships and is part of the shipping industry’s answer to piracy.

North Korea might have something to gain from participating in an international monitoring system for shipping. Much like it notifies authorities of satellite launches, adding satellite tracking to its ships enables the country to claim it follows international rules and regulations.

Back in 2011 a North Korean LRIT website appeared, but at the time it wasn’t functioning properly.

The IMSO also overseas the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), maritime safety information broadcasts, some aeronautical safety services, and distress alert and search and rescue coordination.

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