LRIT: Big Brother is Watching

26 August 2008 By Peter Baker

Do you ever get the feeling that someone is watching you? Well, now you'll know why.

The latest Long Range Identification and Tracking of Ships (LRIT) regulations are scheduled for enforcement at the end of this year. Will you be ready? What do these LRIT regs mean for your yacht and what does it all mean for the yachting industry?

In short, LRIT will ensure that "big brother" will know the whereabouts of every ship in the world. Authorities will know which ships are on their coastlines or in their territorial waters.

What is LRIT? It's a worldwide GPS/Inmarsat system that allows flag states, port states and search and rescue authorities to receive the identity, position and date/time status from ships at sea. This is a follow-up result of the mostly politically driven “Post 9/11” need to counter terrorism at sea.

In fact, LRIT regulations may eventually provide vast amounts of data on merchant shipping trade routes, speeds, commerce, etc. for the statisticians. This could result in greater safety at sea once the data is analyzed.

Here's a short fact sheet on LRIT and why the yachting industry must pay attention to the upcoming deadline for the enforcement of its regulations.

Who needs it?
Commercial yachts and ships over 300 tons. If you needed AIS, you will need LRIT. Note the 300 tons.

When is it needed?
By December 31, 2008. This is the date most flag states are requiring compliance, even though some of the practicalities of operating LRIT ashore are still being worked out.

How do you comply?
Luckily, this is quite easy and no new equipment is needed (provided you have an Inmarsat C or Mini-C). Your Sat-C may already be in use for location tracking with the excellent Purplefinder system, or the Mini-C is used for the SSAS (Ship Security Alert System). If you don’t have either of these, the equipment can be purchased for roughly $1,000.

It should be painless to set up. Pole Star, the operators of Purplefinder, is fully recognized by the Cayman, Marshall Islands and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines registries. It will register and test your connection, and if successful, provide confirmation of this to be included in your next annual radio inspections.

Due to the huge number of ships needing to be set up this year (more than 20,000), Pole Star is unwilling to deal with individual vessels and prefers applications from groups, such as management companies or fleets.

What to do?
Contact your management company, giving full details of your Sat-C transceiver, including make, model, serial number, MMSI, call sign, etc. MTS-Yachts can assist you with the application by using its group account if needed.

Pole Star is charging £300 per terminal for the test and certificate.

Peter Baker is the president of Megayacht Technical Services (MTS). The Fort Lauderdale-based company provides all types of regulatory documentation and management. His worldwide team supports captains and crew with the answers to all aspects of vessel operation. Visit Megayacht Technical Services at