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Beidou navigation system approved for operations at sea

2014-11-25 08:49 China Daily Web Editor: Si Huan

China's independently developed Beidou Navigation Satellite System has taken a huge step toward going global as the International Maritime Organization approved its use in operations at sea, the country's Maritime Safety Administration said on Monday.

The IMO's Maritime Safety Committee reviewed and passed a key document known as a commitment letter for the Beidou system during its 94th session in London Nov 17-21.

It means the system has been formally included in the Worldwide Radionavigation System. Beidou is the third system to gain such acceptance after the United States' Global Positioning System and Russia's Global Navigation Satellite System.

It is the first time the Beidou system's standards have been ratified by an international organization, the administration said in a statement. It described the achievement as "a milestone" in its efforts to promote the system overseas that will provide a foundation for Beidou's use in global maritime operations.

During its 93rd session in May, the IMO committee adopted the performance standards for ship-borne Beidou receiver equipment, and agreed to recommend that IMO members have Beidou receivers installed on their seagoing vessels from July 1, 2016.

The inclusion of Beidou in the Worldwide Radionavigation System is an important step in the system's maritime expansion overseas, as the IMO stipulates that its members ships must carry satellite navigation receivers, said a government official who wished to remain anonymous.

"With the IMO's support, it will be much easier for the Beidou system to be adopted by foreign shipping companies," she added.

More than 50,000 Chinese fishing vessels were equipped with Beidou terminals by December 2013, according to Ran Chengqi, director of the China Satellite Navigation Office.

The system began to supply precise positioning, real-time navigation, location reporting, time readings and short message services to users in China and the Asia-Pacific region in December 2012. The government is aiming to establish it as a global system with 35 satellites by 2020.

Beidou has established a strong presence in Thailand, where three demonstration ground stations were opened in June to serve disaster prevention and relief operations. Wuhan Optics Valley Beidou Geo-Spatial Information Industry Co was established in June 2013 to promote the Beidou system in the civil sector at home and abroad.

The company said more than 200 ground stations will be set up in Thailand within five years, and cooperative projects have also been launched in other Asian nations including Malaysia and Laos.

Sun Jiadong, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and chief designer of the system, said, "Five experimental satellites will be deployed before 2015 to help establish global coverage to provide better services."

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