NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PARTICIPATION IN THE GMDSS
The goals of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS)
are to provide more effective and efficient emergency and safety communications
and disseminate Maritime Safety Information (MSI) to all ships on the world's
oceans regardless of location or atmospheric conditions. MSI includes navigational
warnings, meteorological warnings and forecasts, and other urgent safety
related information. GMDSS goals are defined in the International Convention
for the The
Safety Of Life At Sea (SOLAS) and affects vessels
over 300 gross tons and passenger vessels of any size.
The National Weather Service participates
directly in the GMDSS by preparing meteorological forecasts and warnings
for broadcast via NAVTEX, HF Narrow Band Direct Printing (NBDP) and SafetyNET. However, as per Notices to Mariners 47/09, meteorological warnings and meteorological forecasts for the Hudson Bay area are not yet transmitted via GMDSS SafetyNet or NAVTEX.
GMDSS operated in parallel with other systems for delivery
of MSI until February 1999 when GMDSS became the
primary international means for disseminating MSI to mariners. Individual
nations may choose to continue their current dissemination systems beyond
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has introduced an experimental GMDSS Webpage which, as a first step, provides links to worldwide meteorological bulletins and warnings issued for the high seas via SafetyNet.
The U.S. Coast Guard Navigation and Vessel
Inspection Circular (NVIC) 3-99 on GMDSS and EPIRB
Equipment Requirements on
Commercial Vessels is available in Acrobat (PDF) format. It replaces NVIC 9-93.
Operation of a shipboard radio installation requires a license and is regulated
by the FCC. The exception to this is the Telecommunications Act of 1996 permits recreational boaters to have and use a VHF marine radio. For further information, see the
FCC's Wireless Telecommunication Bureau's Maritime Mobile Service Webpage.
Licensing is not normally required when receiving only. Learn more about GMDSS and other marine communication systems by visiting the U.S. Coast Guard Maritime
Telecommunications Information webpage.
Under GMDSS regulations, reception of MSI is
"While at sea, vessels must maintain radio watches for broadcasts
of maritime safety information on the appropriate frequency or frequencies
on which such information is broadcast for the area in which the ship is
navigating." 47 CFR 80.1123(b).
Waivers for inoperative GMDSS equipment which can not be repaired prior
to scheduled sailing should be requested of the FCC by phone or email to
Ghassan Khalek (202-418-2771, email@example.com, 202-418-2643(fax)) identifying other systems
available, planned repair date, duration of next voyage, destination etc.
Also under U.S. GMDSS regulations,
"Ships must carry the most recent version edition of the IMO
publication entitled GMDSS Master Plan of Shore Based Facilities".
47 CFR 80.1085(ii)(d).
This document is available from the
FCC allows NGA Publication 117
to be carried as an alternative to the GMDSS Master Plan.
Refer to NGA Publication 117, which is updated
through the Notice to Mariners, for the latest official listing of
NAVTEX and SafetyNET broadcast schedules. The
British Admiralty List of Radio Signals is an excellent reference
source for GMDSS information.
All NWS marine forecasts rely heavily on the Voluntary
Observing Ship (VOS) program for obtaining meteorological observations.