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What is the Maritime Satcom System?

In daily work and life, we usually use our mobile phones for communication, whether it's through texting or calling. We can enjoy the convenience that mobile communication networks bring us. However, for those on the far seas, it is necessary to use maritime satcom since it is not possible to establish mobile communication networks such as base stations. So, how did this maritime satcom system develop? What are its functions? And what is it composed of? Let's explore!

Overview of the maritime satcom system

The maritime satcom system is a ship radio communication system that uses communication satellites as relay stations. Its features include high quality, large capacity, and the ability for global, all-weather, and all-time communication.

In 1976, the United States launched three maritime communication satellites over the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans, establishing the world's first maritime satcom station. Its main capacity was dedicated to serving the navy.

In July 1979, the International Maritime Satellite Organization was established, and in 1982, the International Maritime satcom System was established, becoming the first generation of international maritime satcom systems. After years of construction, the system has now developed into its third generation.

Components of the maritime satcom system

It is mainly composed of the space segment, network operation control center, network coordination station, shore station, ship station, and user terminals.

Space segment

The maritime satcom system uses four third-generation satellites and five backup satellites, which are distributed according to the four ocean regions, namely the eastern and western Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Indian Ocean. Each ocean region has one third-generation satellite, with an additional third-generation backup satellite, and four second-generation satellites, which have relatively small capacity and have been converted for backup.

Network operation control center

The network operation control center is located in a building in London, UK. Its mission is to monitor, coordinate, and control the operation of all satellites in the maritime satcom network.

Network coordination station

Each ocean region has a shore station that also serves as a network coordination station. The station acts as an operator and allocates, controls, and monitors telephone and telegraph channels between the ship station and shore station in its respective ocean region.

Shore station

A shore station is an earth station located on the coast. Its basic function is to communicate with ship stations via satellites and to provide interfaces for domestic or international networks for ship stations. The shore station operates in dual-frequency mode (L and C bands), with the C-band for voice and the L-band for data.

Ship station

A ship station is an earth station located on a ship, and it is the terminal system in the system. Users can communicate bi-directionally with each other through the selected satellite and ground station.

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