Coastguard services around St. Vincent and the Grenadines have been augmented by the introduction of a new Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS). The system has been deployed by Cable & Wireless Communications’ Caribbean business, LIME.
There are an estimated 2,500 fishermen working in St. Vincent and the Grenadine islands, operating with small scale and artisanal boats and equipment. There are also many privately-owned boats. Boats in distress previously had to tune between radio channels to try to find the coastguard or another vessel.
The new system allows local boat owners to purchase a low-cost handheld mobile radio that will put them directly in touch with the coastguard at the touch of a button. The coastguard’s call centre is connected using LIME’s broadband network to a VHF radio antenna. The new antenna has increased the distance around the country that the coastguard can monitor.
The project was funded by St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Universal Services Fund (USF), which was launched in October 2010. The fund is used by the country’s National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) to fund universal access to telecommunications services.
Secretary General of the NTRC, Apollo Knights said: "This GMDSS system means a lot to me because of my personal experience at sea. Now persons using the seas can feel more secure.”
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a chain of islands in the South East of the Caribbean Sea. The country has a population of approximately 104,000. Cable & Wireless Communications has had a presence there since 1925 and provides mobile, fixed line, broadband and enterprise telecoms services.