LONDON, August 5, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Inmarsat (LSE:ISAT), the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services, has announced the commercial availability of a new voice distress service on FleetBroadband. The free-to-use service ensures that, in the event of an emergency, all non-priority telephone calls underway on the vessel's FleetBroadband are interrupted, connecting the caller directly to a Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC). The new voice distress service requires a simple software and hardware add-on, which provides a 'red button' for one-touch easy use. The new service also utilises the enhanced capability of the FleetBroadband network, as it simultaneously sends an email to the MRCC and network controllers to alert them to a call, providing additional data such as vessel name, identification and position. The development of a voice distress service on FleetBroadband was supported by the European Space Agency and the UK's Technology Strategy Board. Inmarsat is the only mobile satellite operator to be approved for use within the Global Maritime Distress & Safety System (GMDSS), and the introduction of a voice distress service with red button access is the first step in obtaining compliance for FleetBroadband with GMDSS. "This is a first for FleetBroadband, and demonstrates our on-going commitment to providing essential safety and distress services for seafarers," said Peter Blackhurst, Head of Maritime Safety at Inmarsat. "This new red-button voice distress service is ideal for vessels of all types and sizes because it's backed by a highly-reliable network that offers 99.9 percent connectivity at all times." Thrane & Thrane is the first manufacturer to support the service with its Sailor 3771 Alarm Panel. Other terminal manufacturers are expected to follow shortly. FleetBroadband users who need emergency assistance, but who don't have access to the red button voice service, can still use Inmarsat's 505 Emergency Calling facility, which routes calls free of charge to an MRCC.