Now you reading this and most probably thinking 'what the heck is GMDSS?' Well it stands for Global Maritime Distress and Safety System. It's a vast system of many different types of wireless communications that enables ships to make distress calls, as well as other more routine communication. This can range from your more regular marine VHF radio to HF radio to satellite like the Inmarsat C system or Fleet 77. With GMDSS in place it now virtually impossible to not be able to contact others for help when you really need it. This sounds great, however as GMDSS is an international agreement it took many years to agree on (nearly 20 years) so the system is still rather large and unwieldy with compromises made left, right and centre meaning that understanding it all can be a massive head ache. However with the emergence of better technology and ship owners looking to save money, the ship's radio officer was soon made obsolete on most merchant vessels leaving the deck officer in charge of all the communication equipment. With this the IMO (International Maritime Organization) made it mandatory for all deck officer to know GMDSS.
So for the last 8 days (including the weekend) I've been studying GMDSS till my head hurt. Thing about GMDSS is you don't have to be clever, you just have to remember a riduclous amount of information. But today I was tested on my knowledge of GMDSS and I passed the written exam, the RT (Radio Telephony) exercise and the one to one practical exam where you are asked to use every bit of kit to test your competency.
So today I got my General Certifcate of Competency that now allows me to be a radio officer of any vessel, any size, any where in the world. And also I can now work at shore marine radio stations anywhere in the world. Though it may not seem that much, but I can now open so many doors career wise I wouldn't have thought about before.