The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) Task Force meets on 5 January 2006 in Arlington, Virginia

The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) Task Force, sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), will meet in Arlington, Virginia, on 5 January 2006. Topics on the agenda include the status of the Rescue-21 project, review of Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) requirements, and review of USCG requirements for the Ship Security Officer.  

GMDSS Task Force

The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) now being implemented by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has changed the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention to provide a major upgrade of maritime safety communications procedures and equipment. This upgrade will affect not only SOLAS Convention ships - those over 300 tons - but all users of marine radio services.  

The GMDSS transition period ended February 1999 with most ships converted, but many shore implementation actions are incomplete. The U.S. Coast Guard and other cognisant government agencies have therefore sponsored a National GMDSS Implementation Task Force to facilitate the transition and recommend further action. 


  1. Provide a forum for interested parties to consider all aspects of GMDSS implementation in the U.S. and recommend action to appropriate authorities including the U.S. SOLAS Radio Communications, Search and Rescue Working Group on U.S. positions on IMO issues.
  2. Maintain a public relations programme to inform all sectors of the maritime community on the impacts and benefits of GMDSS implementation and solicit feedback on GMDSS problems.
  3. Maintain an overview of GMDSS training to encourage well-trained GMDSS operators on compulsory vessels, to indoctrinate operators of non-compulsory vessels with an appropriate level of voluntary GMDSS information, and to advocate programmes to minimise false alerts in order to improve the effectiveness of search and rescue operations.
  4. Maintain a liaison with equipment manufacturers and service agents to facilitate the equipping of U.S. SOLAS vessels to meet GMDSS standards and provide advice to non-compulsory vessels wishing to use the GMDSS systems on a voluntary basis.
  5. Monitor implementation of GMDSS shore networks, vessel outfitting, and updating of official publications describing GMDSS facilities and procedures.


The Task Force is open to membership and participation by all interested parties. Distribution of Task Force documents is primarily by electronic mail but regular mail is used for those members without internet access. All persons interested in the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) are welcomed as Task Force members and are invited to attend meetings and contribute by e-mail to issues under discussion. Task Force documents are posted on the GMDSS section of the Coast Guard’s web site.  

There are also four subordinate Task Groups devoted to Commercial Vessels, Recreational Vessels, GMDSS Training, and issues involving Service Agents and Manufacturers. These Task Groups no longer hold regularly scheduled meetings but continue to coordinate issues of interest by e-mail and make recommendations to the Task Force. Applicants for membership should indicate if they also wish to be affiliated with one or more of the Task Groups. Members who may be in a position to attend meetings will receive meeting agendas by e-mail several weeks prior to the meeting if they have requested to be placed on the Meeting Notification List. 

Click here for further information on the GMDSS Task Force.  

Anyone wishing to be placed on the distribution for Task Force mailings should contact Captain Jack Fuechsel, Executive Director, by e-mail at,, phone 703-941-1935 or mail at 7425 Elgar Street, Springfield, VA22151, or Penny McPherson, 

Contact: Fredrik Larsson