DPRK establishing LRIT maritime system

Martyn  Williams, who is keeping a closer eye on the DPRK’s use of the internet than anyone else, informs us that the DPRK appears to be setting up a web page for a LRIT Maritime system (Long Range Information and Tracking of ships).

When I read Martyn’s blog post, I was lost–so I did some background research on LRIT. According to Wikipedia:

IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships. The IMO’s primary purpose is to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping and its remit today includes safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping. IMO is governed by an Assembly of members and is financially administered by a Council of members elected from the Assembly. The work of IMO is conducted through five committees and these are supported by technical subcommittees. Member organizations of the UN organizational family may observe the proceedings of the IMO. Observer status is granted to qualified non-governmental organizations.

According to the IMO web page:

As part of the international maritime community’s wide-ranging response to the growing threat from terrorism world-wide, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) decided to establish a new system for the global identification and tracking of ships. Following a major effort to identify appropriate technologies, establish the necessary global legal regime and achieve political consensus concerning the collection, distribution and use of the data, IMO has established a system for the Long-Range Identification and Tracking of Ships (LRIT).

1.2 The LRIT system consists of shipborne LRIT information transmitting equipment, Communication Service Provider(s), Application Service Provider(s), LRIT Data Centre(s), the LRIT Data Distribution Plan and the International LRIT Data Exchange. Certain aspects of the performance of the LRIT system are reviewed or audited by the LRIT Coordinator acting on behalf of all Contracting Governments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). IMSO has been appointed to be the LRIT Coordinator.

1.4 Under new SOLAS Regulation V/19-1, ships will be required to report their position (LRIT information) automatically, to a special shore data collection, storage and distribution system, at least four times a day. LRIT information is provided to Contracting Governments and Search and Rescue services entitled to receive the information, upon request, through a system of National, Regional, and Co operative LRIT Data Centres, using where necessary, the International LRIT Data Exchange.

So just to clarify, “LRIT is a recent amendment to Chapter V of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974 (SOLAS), which introduces new mandatory position reporting obligations for SOLAS vessels. It came into force on January 1st, 2008, with compliance required by December 31st, 2008. It demands that SOLAS vessels automatically transmit their identity and position with date/time at 6-hour intervals. They must also be capable of answering requests from member states and LRIT data centers for immediate position reports and be able to change the time interval between reports to a maximum frequency of every 15 minutes.”

Adopting the LRIT system helps the DPRK shipping industry when it comes to mitigating the risks of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Strait of Malacca.  I would have expected that the adoption of an LRIT system would financially handicap the DPRK’s illicit weapons shipments since tracking vessels will be made much easier, but the mere fact that the DPRK is developing the system probably means the  North Koreans do not see a financial threat from it.


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