The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), in cooperation with Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) has awarded a substantial contract to enhance the regional search and rescue satellite system used to detect emergency distress beacons.
AMSA Chief Executive Officer Mick Kinley said McMurdo Group’s Techno-Sciences, Inc (TSi) has been selected to establish a next-generation Medium-altitude Earth Orbit Search and Rescue (MEOSAR) capability in Australia and New Zealand, following a rigorous tender process.
The ten-year Australian contract provides for installation and maintenance of a six-antenna MEOSAR ground station in Western Australia and a Mission Control Centre in Canberra.
Installation is expected to take 15 months.
“Australians are the biggest per capita users of distress beacons in the world, with more than 300,000 beacons registered,” Mr Kinley said. “The modernised MEOSAR satellite distress beacon detection system will allow AMSA to detect beacon activations in a more timely manner.”
The MEOSAR system will replace the Low-altitude Earth Orbit Search and Rescue (LEOSAR) satellite system, which will be phased out in coming years under international arrangements.
Once fully operational the MEOSAR system will reduce beacon detection times from hours under the current system, to within 10 minutes, 95 per cent of the time.
“AMSA is continually looking to take advantage of new technology in its search and rescue system and the MEOSAR system will allow AMSA to detect and respond to beacon activations more effectively,” Mr Kinley said.
Australia and New Zealand’s MEO Local User Terminals (MEOLUTs) or satellite tracking ground stations will work cooperatively to achieve overlapping coverage of Australia and New Zealand’s Search and Rescue Regions.
“This offers a high degree of resilience in the event of a system outage that would be expensive for either country to achieve alone,” Mr Kinley said.
“AMSA is pleased to continue this collaborative regional approach with New Zealand, which allows a data feed from the NZ MEOLUT to the Mission Control Centre in Canberra, which immediately relays information to Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand in the event of a beacon activation in the New Zealand Search and Rescue Region.”