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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Explained: What is the new regional navigation satellite system or IRNSS?

The navigation system can now replace GPS in the Indian Ocean waters upto 1500 km from the Indian boundary.

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR , Edited by Explained Desk | Mumbai | Updated: November 26, 2020 2:05:54 pm
Explained: What is regional navigation satellite system or IRNSS that India is 4th nation to haveThe IRNSS is based on the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) satellites that are used for navigation. (ISRO/File)

On November 11, India became the fourth country in the world to have its independent regional navigation satellite system recognised by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as a part of the World Wide Radio Navigation System (WWRNS).

The navigation system can now replace GPS in the Indian Ocean waters upto 1500 km from the Indian boundary. The process of getting the recognition for the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System based on satellites of the Indian Space Research Organisation took about two years. Merchant vessels in Indian waters can now use the “modern and more accurate” system as an alternative navigation module, said Director General of Shipping, Amitabh Kumar.

What is the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System?

The IRNSS is an independent regional navigation satellite system developed by India. It is designed to provide accurate position information service to assist in the navigation of ships in the Indian Ocean waters. It could replace the US-owned Global Positioning System (GPS) in the Indian Ocean extending up to approximately 1500 km from the Indian boundary.

What does the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) recognition of the IRNSS mean?

The IMO is the United Nations’ specialised agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine and atmospheric pollution by ships. The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) of the IMO recognised the IRNSS as a component of the World-wide Radio Navigation System (WWRNS) during its 102nd session held virtually from November 4 to November 11. With the recognition as a component of the of the WWRNS, the Indian navigation system is similarly placed as GPS, most commonly used by marine shipping vessels across the world or the Russian Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS). After the US, Russia and China that have their own navigation systems, India has become the fourth country to have its independent regional navigation system. Unlike GPS, however, IRNSS is a regional and not a global navigation system. According to the Directorate General of Shipping under the Union Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, this is also a “significant achievement” towards the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative.  📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram

Who can make use of the IRNSS?

While the system will be open to all including security agencies, officials of the Directorate General of Shipping said as of now, all merchant vessels including small fishing vessels are authorised to use the system. Vessels that have transponders installed in them will be tracked by satellite navigation showing accurate position in the Indian Ocean region. According to Director General of Shipping Amitabh Kumar, at any given time, there are at least 2,500 merchant vessels in Indian waters that can all use the IRNSS. The IRNSS, he said, is a modern and more accurate system of navigation. The system is based on the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) satellites that are used for navigation.

Why was it necessary for India to have its own navigation system?

Kumar said an overdependence on one system (GPS) cannot be safe. The IMO, he said, had encouraged countries to design their own navigation systems. The recognition accorded to IRNSS was in the process for two years. Details of the tests carried out on merchant ships with regard to the accuracy of the system were included in the report prepared by ISRO which was submitted to IMO for consideration. After a detailed analysis, the sub-committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR) of the IMO, during its 7th session held in January 2020, recommended to the MSC of IMO that it accepts the IRNSS as a component of the WWRNS. The recognition was accorded earlier this month. The IMO issued a circular on November 11 announcing the recognition of the IRNSS to its member states.

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