A one-day IALA Seminar on VHF Data Exchange System （VDES） was held at the YourWorld Conference Centre in Yiwu city on Monday 16 July. The Seminar was followed by a four-day meeting of the IALA Working Group on Communications, part of the ENAV Committee. The two events were hosted by China MSA and IALA, and sponsored by Zhe Jiang SIST Co., Ltd.
The Seminar was opened by Mr WANG Zelong, Deputy Director-General of MSA, Mr LI Dongfang, Vice-Mayor of Yiwu, and Mr Michael CARD, Deputy Secretary-General of IALA. The keynote speech was given by Mr YUAN Minhui, from the Beijing Institute of Space Science and Information Technology.
The Seminar highlighted developments in VDES, including the possible use of VDES to support position, navigation and timing （PNT） through VDES R-Mode. The seminar was a major success with more than 100 participants from China and abroad participating.
Following the Seminar, the Working Group on Communications met from the 17th to the 20th. An objective of the working group meeting included reviewing and improving the IALA Guideline 1139 to capture the technical deion of VDES, with the expectation of updating a new draft version of this Guideline at the ENAV 22 Committee meeting in October.
VDES is a VHF digital communications system specifically designed for the Imaritime environment. VDES is expected to carry maritime safety information and other ship data information, with both terrestrial and space components. As a system, VDES includes and protects the existing AIS channels, which will remain unchanged, while adding extra channels for Application Specific Messages and for digital data transmission. A major driver for VDES is to reserve the AIS channels for safety of navigation, moving to other channels the increasing numbers of non-safety related messages now being imposed on the AIS frequencies.