What is an LRIT or Long-Range Identification and Tracking?

by | Last updated Mar 21, 2024 | Equipment | 0 comments

Unlike conventional navigational tools onboard, LRIT operates with a unique functionality. 

Ships equipped with Long-Range Identification and Tracking system can transmit their identification and location data via satellite.

However, they cannot receive the same information from other vessels directly through this system.

The tool is primarily designed for the government and not for ships!

Interesting, isn’t it?

Now, let’s understand what this monitoring technology is, how it works, and the areas to watch out for during the conformance test report.

Key Takeaways

  • An LRIT  is a monitoring system for globally tracking vessels and transmitting periodic position reports to maritime authorities.
  • There are 6 major components of this tracking system.
  • Transmitted data is not accessible by ships but only to certain parties.
  • Ships with an Automatic Identification System (AIS) and exclusively operating in sea area A1 are exempted from this system.
  • A Conformance Test Report certifies that the vessel meets specific regulations.

What is an LRIT or Long-Range Identification and Tracking?

An LRIT is a monitoring technology that enables global identification and tracking of vessels by sending their information and location data to shore facilities via satellite or terrestrial connections.

The transmitted data then passes through national, regional, or international Data Centers.

From there, they reformat the message to conform with the international standard before sending it to the international Data Exchange.

In short, an LRIT is a ship tracking system designed to monitor the movements of vessels over vast expanses of ocean.

Uses of Long-Range Identification and Tracking

  • Maritime security
  • Navigational safety
  • Vessel satellite tracking
  • Environmental protection
  • Fleet Management
  • Risk Management
  • Vessel Monitoring
  • Search and Rescue
  • Ship Identification

While traditional navigational equipment focus on the ship’s safety, the LRIT system takes a broader approach.

A Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) equipment consisting of an antenna, a red distress button, a console with numerical and various buttons, and a handset.

Regulatory Requirements

Chapter V, Regulation 19-1 of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Regulation, provides the framework and initial guidance on installing LRIT on ships.

Aside from that, there are various IMO Resolutions that define specific functionalities in every area of this equipment.

Carriage requirements

Not all ships must have LRIT equipment on board.

Before a vessel can be fitted with this system, it must conform to the category below:

  • ships constructed on or after 31 December 2008
  • vessels built before 31 December 2008 and certified for operations in sea areas A1, A2, A3, and A4 that passed specific surveys.
  • engaged in international voyages.

Ship types that must be equipped with an LRIT

If your vessel passes those requirements, here are the types of ships that must have a long-range identification and tracking system:

  • passenger ships, including high-speed passenger craft; 
  • cargo ships, including high-speed craft of 300 gross tonnage
  • mobile offshore drilling units (MODU)


Vessels need not to have an LRIT system if they fulfill all these requisites.

  • fitted with an Automatic Identification System (AIS) irrespective of the date of construction and;
  • operating exclusively within sea area A1.

How does it work?

The vessel’s captain or his officers need not intervene in the daily operation of this device since the transmission is automatic.

They only need to ensure the equipment is powered up and logged in at all times.

Still, knowing how an LRIT works is very important to understand the technology behind it better.

The image explains it best.

Different components of the LRIT system from ships to communication service providers and data centers.

Components of LRIT

The Long-range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) system consists of many parts, as shown in the image.

  1. Shipborne LRIT equipment
  2. Communication Service Provider
  3. Application Service Provider
  4. Data Centre
  5. Data Distribution Plan
  6. International Data Exchange

The International Maritime Organization lays out performance standards and functionalities for each component.

1. Shipborne LRIT equipment

The shipborne equipment is responsible for automatically transmitting the ship’s information at specified intervals to a Data Centre.

Here are the details sent from the vessel’s LRIT equipment:

  • Shipborne equipment identifier – a.k.a. Ship’s identity
  • Positional data – in latitude and longitude using GNSS.
  • Time Stamp – in date and time.

The ship’s LRIT equipment can be a dedicated terminal or part of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).

2. Communication Service Provider

A Communication Service Provider (CSP) provides services that link different components of this system using communication protocols to ensure secure end-to-end transfer of LRIT information.

These providers facilitate the transmission of data between the shipborne equipment, Data Centres, and LRIT Data Users. 

Going back to the image above, all the lines and arrows connecting each component are part of the Communication Service Provider. 

3. Application Service Provider

An Application Service Provider (ASP) offers transaction management systems for monitoring LRIT information throughput and routine.

ASPs provide specific functionalities such as integrating shipborne equipment into LRIT Data Centres, configuring transmission intervals, and suspending transmissions.

They also manage the secure collection, storage, and routing of LRIT information. 

Here are data added by Application Service Providers to each transmission of LRIT information:

  • Ship Identity – IMO Number and MMSI.
  • Name of ship.
  • Type of ship.
  • Date and time the ASP receives the LRIT information.
  • The date and time the information is forwarded to the appropriate Data Centre.
  • LRIT Data Centre Identifier 
  • The date and time the Data Centre receives the information. 
  • The date and time the information is forwarded from the Data Centre to a Data User.
Pole Star Global, one of the well-known Application System Providers that conducts LRIT Conformance Test.
Image: Pole Star Global | LinkedIn.

4. LRIT Data Centre

An LRIT Data Centre is a key component of this system, as it is responsible for receiving, storing, and distributing specific information.

They also provide accurate and timely information to Contracting Governments and search and rescue services.

Additionally, Data Centres are part of a network that includes National, Regional, Cooperative, and International centers.

5. Data Distribution Plan

The Data Distribution Plan is a critical component of the Long-Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) system.

It outlines the procedures and protocols for distributing information among Data Centres, Data Users, and other relevant entities.

The plan includes details such as geographical areas covered, data formats, communication protocols, security measures, and access control mechanisms. 

6. International LRIT Data Exchange

The International Data Exchange (IDE) facilitates the international exchange of information between different LRITData Centres, Data Users, and the LRIT Coordinator.

It ensures the seamless transfer of LRIT data across borders and regions, enabling Contracting Governments and search and rescue services to access information as needed.

This exchange platform operates based on standardized protocols, secure communication methods, and reliable connections to guarantee the timely and accurate transmission of data.

LRIT System Architecture

Visualizing the system architecture is another way to understand how each component of the system interacts.

LRIT System Architecture featuring the flow of data transmissions.

LRIT Conformance Test Report

A conformance test is a report conducted to verify that shipborne equipment meets the regulatory requirements specified in SOLAS regulations.

Additionally, it checks whether the device still adheres to the Revised Performance standards for transmitting LRIT (Long-range Identification and Tracking) information.

The conformance test is essential to ensure that the ship’s communication system complies with the necessary standards and functions effectively in transmitting the required information.

Test requirements for the conformance report

  • The equipment is activated into the ASP System.
  • Establish the sea areas where the ship operates.
  • The equipment automatically transmits LRIT information.
  • Identity is present in the received information.
  • The latitude and longitude are present in the received information.
  • The equipment GNSS position information is based upon the WGS84 Datum.
  • Date and time are present in the received information.
  • Equipment date and time information is in UTC.
  • The equipment transmits a Time Stamp relative to when the position was generated (not the CSP receipt time).
  • Equipment is of a type approved by the Administration.
  • Compliant with provisions of Resolution A.694(17).
  • Tested for electromagnetic compatibility.
  • Reconfigured to transmit information at 15-minute intervals automatically.
  • Reconfigured to transmit information at 60-minute intervals automatically, to demonstrate the successful change in transmission interval.
A Sample of an actual LRIT Conformance Test Report made by Pole Star Global.
  • Automatically transmits LRIT information at 6-hour intervals.
  • Reconfigured to transmit information at 24-minute intervals automatically.
  • LRIT information is available within 15 minutes of the time it is transmitted by the ship.
  • Transmits information which is available within 30 minutes of the ASP’s request for the information.
  • Interfaces directly to the ship’s Global Navigation Satellite System, or has internal positioning capability.
  • Automatically transmits information via the CSP to the CSP reliably and securely.
  • Transmits information following receipt of polling commands.
  • Respond to on-demand position requests.
  • Supplied with power from the main and emergency source of electrical energy.

While most equipment inside the bridge is primarily designed to enhance the ship’s safety, the Long-Range Identification and Tracking system is designed with security in mind.

It may not be as proactive as the ship security alert system, but it is still a vital tool for monitoring and safeguarding vessels.

That said, the ship’s LRIT system must still conform to SOLAS regulations and IMO standards.

May the winds be in your favor.



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