5. Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT)
LRIT information will be provided to Contracting Governments and search and rescue services
entitled to receive the information, upon request, through a system of national, regional, co-
operative and international LRIT Data Centres, using, where necessary, the LRIT Data Exchange
The IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) adopted a resolution called 'Use of long-range
identification and tracking information for safety and environmental purposes', which notes that such
use of LRIT information would add significant value to existing systems by improving knowledge of
ships' positions and identity. The resolution states that the MSC agrees that Contracting
Governments may request, receive and use LRIT information for safety and environmental protection
Key decisions relating to the implementation of the Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT)
System were made end 2007 by the MSC at its 83rd session.
MSC 83 accepted a contingency offer from the United States to host, build and operate, on an interim
and temporary basis, the International LRIT Data Exchange (IDE), agreeing that a permanent
location should be found for the IDE as soon as possible (within two years from 1 January 2008,
subject to a further review by the MSC). The establishment of the interim IDE will allow the LRIT
system to be launched on schedule with multiple LRIT Data Centres operating and joined through the
The LRIT system will consist of the shipborne LRIT information transmitting equipment, the
Communication Service Provider(s), the Application Service Provider(s), the LRIT Data Centre(s),
including any related Vessel Monitoring System(s), the LRIT Data Distribution Plan and the IDE. The
LRIT Data Centres communicate with each other and exchange information and data though the IDE
and thus the IDE has a key and pivotal role in the establishment and functioning of the system.
SOLAS regulation V/19-1 on LRIT entered into force on 1 January 2008 and will apply to ships
constructed on or after 31 December 2008, with a phased-in implementation schedule for ships
constructed before 31 December 2008. The LRIT system is intended to be operational with respect to
the transmission of LRIT information by ships from 30 December 2008. This gives SOLAS contracting
governments a year to set up and test the LRIT system, and ship operators a year to start fitting the
necessary equipment or upgrading so that their ships can transmit LRIT information.
In May 2006 amendments were agreed to SOLAS – LRIT which looked as follows.
The SOLAS regulation introduces LRIT as a mandatory requirement for the following ships on
international voyages: passenger ships, including high-speed craft; cargo ships, of 300 gross
tonnage and upward; and mobile offshore drilling units.
Ships constructed on or after 31 December 2008 must be fitted with a system to transmit
automatically the identity of the ship, the position of the ship (latitude and longitude) and the date
and time of the position provided.
Ships constructed before 31 December 2008 and certified for operations in sea areas A1 and A2, or
A1, A2 and A3, must be fitted with the equipment not later than the first survey of the radio
installation after 31 December 2008.
Ships constructed before 31 December 2008 certified for operations in sea areas A1, A2, A3 and A4,
must comply not later than the first survey of the radio installation after 1 July 2009 (but must
comply earlier, as above, if they operate within sea areas A2 and A3).
Ships operating exclusively in sea area A1 and fitted with an automatic identification system (AIS)
are exempted from the requirement to transmit LRIT information.
The LRIT system is intended to be operational with respect to the transmission of LRIT information by
ships from 30 December 2008.
Area Manager Bill Box will give an update on LRIT and will look at what members should be doing in
practice in that connection.
Notes for BB statement
The core LRIT message is that, although dates have been fixed, LRIT is still unclear, it is still
usettled – in fact it is a mess.
The system is still under discussion at the IMO, and it is not yet clear if it will work at all by 31st
December 2008, when it is supposed to become operative - although at present it is to become
mandatory by 31 December this year.
One of the main reasons for this is that it is not yet clear who will pay for the transmissions.
But also because some practical measures are not yet solved.
Owners need to contact their flag states to receive further, clearer info.
However a few helpful guidelines from INTERTANKO about how LRIT is intended to work.
A ship is required to transmit the LRIT information (ship identity, longitude/latitude position,
date/time) four times a day to its flag state.
It will do this automatically using the ship's LRIT information transmitting equipment.
This service will cost an estimated $1 a day per ship, to be borne by the flag state.
New ships from 31.12.08 to be equipped and to perform.
This will be done by existing ships from not later than the first survey of the radio installation after
31.12.08 for Areas A1-A2 (up to about 100 miles from shore) and A3 (within satellite coverage 70N
to 70S), and one year later for remaining sea areas.
The flag state will hold this information, giving it out only to those who are entitled to receive it - i.e.
Flag States are entitled at all times, Coastal/Port State when ship within 1000 nm from its coast )
- Area A1 Within range of VHF coast stations with continuous DSC alerting available (about 20-30
- Area A2 Beyond area Al, but within range of MF coastal stations with continuous DSC alerting
available (about l00 miles)
- Area A3 Beyond the first two areas, but within coverage of geostationary maritime communication
satellites (in practice this means Inmarsat). This covers the area between roughly 70 deg N and 70
- Area A4 The remaining sea areas. The most important of these is the sea around the North Pole
(the area around the South Pole is mostly land). Geostationary satellites, which are positioned above
the equator, cannot reach this far.
Different Flag States may adopt slightly different LRIT implementation strategies.
However, it is now certain that an "Inmarsat C terminal" will be specified as the main LRIT
communication system of choice, as the majority of ships required to comply with the regulation are
already fitted with compatible "Inmarsat C" GMDSS systems.
By adopting this strategy, no major hardware investment should be required by the ship operator.
It is the responsibility of the Ship Operator to ensure provision of a compliant terminal which should
be of a type approved by the Flag and conform to the performance standards and functional
requirements adopted by the IMO as defined in Resolution MSC.210(81).
Terminals do not have to undergo a separate process of regulatory type approval using IEC standards
etc, such as that required for GMDSS equipment.
Ship operators should be aware that there is a 20-25% probability of existing Inmarsat C GMDSS
terminals NOT conforming to the performance standards and functional requirements for a range of
operational, physical and technical reasons, including: uncontrolled in-port log-off and/or power-
down procedures, poor antenna mounting location, satellite line-of-sight blockage by the ship's
superstructure, interference from the ship's radar, external wide-area radio interference in certain
locations, and most crucially inability to meet these requirements due to out-of-date software and/or
LRIT equipment must be capable of being controlled and programmed by the Flag State, and because
of the serious consequences of non-compliance it is important that equipment performance is as
reliable as possible. Existing "Inmarsat C" GMDSS equipment will in most cases be technically
compliant. However, full compliance with the performance standards and functional requirements
requires that the correct operational procedures are followed on board the vessel. Ship operators are
advised to regularly check that they have the latest flag marine guidance notices in this respect.
MSC 84 (May 2008) will consider a report from the IMO LRIT WG which met in early February. This
Group noted the requirement for the shipborne equipment to be of a type actually approved by the
Administration – both for new equipment, which ships might need to install on board for whatever
reason in order to comply with the obligation to transmit LRIT information, AND any existing
shipborne equipment, already installed, which might be used for LRIT.
HOWEVER from the discussions within the Group it transpired that none of the Administrations had
type approved any new or existing shipborne equipment for such a purpose and none of the
manufacturers had developed any products which were type approved. In addition, the requirement
to make existing equipment already installed on board, undergo a type approval process, although in
theory possible, is not something that is either logical nor manageable nor practicable, nor even a
reasonable requirement, considering the thousands of ships which are required to comply.
In simple practical terms, type approval by Flag Administrations means that a prototype has to be
physically examined and tested to verify that it meets the requirements established by the IMO and
any specific national requirements of the Flag Administration concerned.
BUT, even though equipment might be of a type approved by the Administration when it was
installed on board, it still needs to undergo tests in order to verify that it functions and performs as
intended, before the LRIT compliance of the ship can be certified. The Group noted that in order to
solve this problem, MSC would need to adopt amendments to regulation V/19-1 NOT to require
existing ships to use type-approved equipment when transmitting LRIT information.
However, whilst such a course of action might solve the problem as from the entry into force of such
amendments, at this stage, the earliest possible date when such amendments might enter into force
is 1 July 2010. Thus, the Committee (MSC) would also need to adopt an interim scheme stipulating
arrangements to be applied during the period between 31 December 2008 and 30 June 2010 in lieu
of the requirements for the shipborne equipment to be of a type approved by the Administration.
The Group further noted that such an interim scheme should be based on a series of examinations
and tests, as determined by the Committee, which demonstrate and verify compliance of the
shipborne equipment with the requirements of regulations V/19-1.4 and V/19-1.7 and of section 4
of the performance standards. In this respect and, in view of earlier discussions within the
Committee and during the last session of MSC/ISWG/LRIT 2 of difficulties which might arise when a
ship changed flag or due to legacy equipment (MSC 83/6/2, paragraphs 95 to 107), the Committee
would also need to establish the criteria or the range within which the functional performance of
existing equipment should be considered as being acceptable. The implementation of such an interim
scheme would require the active involvement and participation of ASPs, since it would be the ASPs
who would undertake the various tests; transmit to the ship being tested the various control
commands; receive the LRIT information being transmitted; monitor the performance of the
shipborne equipment over a period of time; and provide related objective evidence.
The Group concluded that this issue should be brought to the attention of MSC 84 as soon as
possible with a view to enabling the Committee to take a decision as how this whole should be
handled in a practicable, uniform and consistent manner. The Group feels that demanding
compliance with the requirement for the equipment to be type -approved could not be considered as
being in tune with the focused efforts of the Committee to set up the LRIT system in the first place.
MSC 84 will also consider a proposal to limit the transmissions from 4 times a day, to 2 times a day,
in order to cut the cost.