The IMO’s Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications, Search & Rescue (NCSR) held its 1Session (NCSR1), following re-organisation of the IMO Sub-Committee structure, from Monday 30 June through Friday 4 July 2014. 74 Member States and 1 Associate Member State were represented; in addition, 8 Inter-Governmental together with 22 Non-Governmental organisations (bolstered by members of a United Nations and a Specialised Agency) also lent representation. Mr Carlos Salgado (CHILE) was unanimously elected Chairman for 2014 at the opening of the session, as also was his Vice-Chairman, Mr Ringo Lakeman (NL); both were subsequently re-elected for 2015.
During the course of the meeting, three Working Groups (WG) and one drafting group (DG) were formed and chaired as follows:
WG1 Search and Rescue, Mr N Clifford (NEW ZEALAND)
WG2 Ships Routing, Mr R Lakeman (NETHERLANDS)
WG3 Technical, Mr A Schwarz (GERMANY)
DG Finalisation of Draft Circulars and Resolution, Mr Yijiang Qu (CHINA)
It may be worth noting that in the re-organisation of the IMO’s Sub-Committee structure, NCSR (like SDC), inherited a very large and wide-ranging workload.
ROUTING OF SHIPS, SHIP REPORTING AND RELATED MATTERS
Approval was given to amendments for:
1. the existing Traffic Separation Scheme (TSC) in the Strait of Gibraltar;
However, the establishment of a new mandatory ship reporting system in the Izmit Bay (IZMITRAP) was not agreed and TURKEY was invited to reconsider the proposal for future submission. Meanwhile, the Secretariat will produce a model/template for use by Governments prior to making proposals on ships’ routing and reporting systems.
ECDIS – CARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS
IHO, CIRM and IEC co-sponsored a report (NCSR 1/4) on the revision of ECDIS standards (related to reported anomalies), which also addressed the transition to the new standards. Actions taken by IHO to monitor and address implementation of the SOLAS carriage requirements were also considered. In discussion, views were expressed that:
1. there are a number of ECDIS issues pending resolution;
SOLAS chart carriage requirements (SN.1/Circ.266/Rev 1); and
1. there may be unintended consequences arising from the updating of existing standards on an ad hoc basis without proper control/oversight from IMO.
However, given that no further work has been identified, this item will relinquish its status as agenda item 25 and from henceforth be reported to the Sub-Committee under any other business.
Of most note was an Information Paper submitted by the REPUBLIC OF KOREA (ROK), reporting on a user survey of ECDIS with regard to anomalies identification, level of seafarer satisfaction, and requirements for functional improvement. The results indicate a need for improvements to the ECDIS performance standard to meet the needs of users. The most significant gaps in the current ECDIS being:
1. ENC information display;
The new ECDIS standards being developed, as reported by IHO, CIRM and IEC, will hopefully take the findings of the ROK survey into careful consideration during such a revision.
CONSOLIDATION OF ECDIS-RELATED IMO CIRCULARS
The Sub-Committee endorsed a draft MSC Circular on ECDIS-Guidance for good practice. The draft will be forwarded to the HTW Sub-Committee for review, in particular, the provisions related to ECDIS training and the use of simulators, then sent to MSC for subsequent approval. It effectively consolidates the text of seven ECDIS-related circulars thus permitting easy upkeep of information without the need for continual cross-referencing or indeed, having to sort out duplication.
APPLICATION OF THE SATELLITE NAVIGATION SYSTEM ‘BEIDOU’ IN THE MARITIME FIELD
The Sub-Committee agreed that CHINA has provided the necessary information and will recommend to MSC that BDS be recognised as a future component of the WWWRNS. It was noted that INDIA is developing a similar system called ‘GAGAN’.
The Secretariat was instructed to modify the web interface of the DDP, allowing the LRIT Coordinator to upload summary audit reports and related information conducted directly in the DDP, making such information available to GISIS users of Member States. Measures to promote a wider and more efficient use of the LRIT system were agreed, in particular, the use of the system by SAR services during the implementation of SAR-related technical cooperation activities. The Sub-Committee recognised the need for a review of the LRIT system, including measures to improve its financial sustainability and viability and invited appropriate proposals from Member Governments. In consideration of the original purpose and intent of LRIT, now may be the time to consider whether the objective might be met by other means, such as the use of satellite augmented AIS.
DEVELOPMENT OF AN E-NAVIGATION STRATEGY IMPLEMENTATION PLAN
There were 4 major submissions:
1. NCSR 1/9 and NCSR 1/9/1 (NORWAY) containing the report of the CG on e-navigation along with a draft SIP and four related draft guidelines;
An additional seven INF papers were also submitted.
During consideration of the draft SIP, views were expressed that IMO should continue to lead this work in order to ensure structured and coordinated global implementation, also that a project management approach should be adopted.
GERMANY agreed to consider the proposals in NCSR 1/9/2 under a different agenda item whilst CIRM’s recommendation to delete references to S-Mode from the SIP in NCSR 1/9/3, was roundly opposed by a majority of delegations.
The Sub-Committee finalised the SIP for MSC approval and endorsed NORWAY’S draft Guidelines in Harmonistation of test beds reporting. Further, it agreed to establish a CG on Harmonisation of Guidelines related to e-navigation as coordinated by AUSTRALIA. The CG was instructed to consolidate the draft Guidelines on: Human Centred Design (HCD); Usability Testing, Evaluation and Assessment (UTEA); also Software quality assurance (SQA) into a single and harmonised guideline. Human element aspects generating specific questions will be addressed to HTW2 and a final report submitted to NCSR2.
REVISION OF THE GUIDELINES FOR THE ONBOARD OPERATIONAL USE OF SHIPBORNE AUTOMATIC IDENTIFICATION SYSTEMS (AIS)
The Sub-Committee endorsed a draft Assembly resolution regarding revised AIS guidelines, as recommended by the drafting group, for approval by MSC.
RECOGNITION OF IRIDIUM MOBILE-SATELLITE SYSTEM AS A GMDSS SERVICE PROVIDER
Following an extensive discussion, the Sub-Committee registered general support for the Iridium application to be evaluated in accordance with resolution A.1001(25) and agreed that there are three possible courses of action, viz:
1. MSC could consider convening a group of experts to assist in the evaluation process and provide technical advice, including requests for support from other organisations such as IHO, WMO and others; or
2. MSC might ponder as to which independent body should produce a technical and operational assessment, providing a report to NCSR for evaluation; or
3. additional information deemed to be required for this assessment could be presented directly to the independent body through the Secretariat. This might help to allay the many reservations expressed by UK, also the concerns of others, such as: incompatibility of satellite systems and of equipment requirements under SOLAS chapter IV; additional requirements and equipment for SAR authorities and RCCs; the limitation of the network architecture with regard to the number of accesses to land stations which could influence the effective dissemination of information; and the costs associated with equipment acquisition and transmission of MSI related messages, etc.
Recognizing the importance of considering future developments in maritime radiocommunication systems and technology, also that further proposals might be submitted, the Sub-Committee will invite MSC to extend the target completion year for this planned output to 2015.
REVIEW AND MODERNISATION OF GMDSS
The Sub-Committee noted that the Joint IMO/ITU Expert Group has finalised the draft outcome of the High-Level review of the GMDSS, based on a draft prepared by the CG. In this context, the Sub-Committee:
1. noted that, although in most cases the same equipment was used, security related communications, including the Ship Security Alert System, did not form part of the GMDSS and are clearly separated from the new proposed functional requirements for a modernised GMDSS. Thus it endorsed a revised definition of ‘Security related Communications’, to be added to SOLAS regulation IV/2 (paragraph 6 of appendix 2);
Note was taken of the opinions from the Technical WG that when considering coordination between the GMDSS review and e-navigation projects, there are possibilities that:
1. the current strict control of the GMDSS may be lost;
Terms of reference for a Correspondence Group on the Review of GMDSS, under the coordination of the USA were approved (reporting to NCSR2 by 19 December 2014) as also were those for the tenth meeting of the Joint IMO / ITU Expert Group on Maritime Radio-communication Matters to be held at IMO from 6 to 10 October 2014.
THE SAR WORKING GROUP
Regarding ‘Actions Requested’ by the SAR WG, the Sub-Committee:
1. endorsed a revised circular for approval by MSC regarding ‘Guidance on Cospass-Sarsat’ International 406 MHz Beacon Registration Database(IBRD);
GLOBAL SAR PLAN
Information was provided by the Secretariat on the status of the Global SAR Plan as available in GISIS. The Sub-Committee noted that the Plan has been updated by several Member Governments during the period between COMSAR 17 and NCSR1.
It was further noted that the status of the availability of SAR services changes day by day underlining the utmost importance of providing up to date information direct to GISIS. This will enable Rescue Coordination Centres to act promptly and not loose precious time the moment they have to deal with a distress situation.
DEVELOPMENT OF MEASURES TO PROTECT THE SAFETY OF PERSONS RESCUED AT SEA
The Sub-Committee noted that a second formal Regional Meeting on this subject due to be held on 18 April 2013 was postponed following a request for more time to be given for informal consultations between some of the parties concerned. In the meanwhile, a boat carrying migrants from Libya to Italy sank off Lampedusa resulting in 360 deaths and 8 days later on 11 October 2013, another boat sank within the SAR region of Malta leading to a further 34 deaths.
Various meetings between the Member States involved have been held to progress work on a draft regional agreement and the Second Formal Regional Meeting is expected to be rescheduled within months. A number of countries in the Mediterranean are experiencing a huge increase in migration and another 100,000 to 150,000 migrants are forecast to arrive in Europe over the second part of this year. Sadly coast guard and rescue vessels simply cannot deal with such large numbers needing to be rescued from the sea.
Consequently, assistance from merchant vessels is being sought at short notice on a daily basis and this is causing a heavy (and unpredictable) burden upon the administrations and shipowners who of necessity become involved.
DEVELOPMENT OF A MANDATORY CODE FOR SHIPS OPERATING IN POLAR WATERS
Having considered the outcome of MSC 93, in particular the issue of the scope of application of renumbered chapters 9 and 10 of the Polar Code, the Sub-Committee agreed:
1. that the provisions of these chapters should apply only to new and existing ships certified in accordance with SOLAS Chapter I, in line with the rest of the Code, as agreed by MSC 93; and
The remaining Polar Code matters were then referred to the SAR and Ships’ Routeing WGs for detailed consideration and advice.
The Sub-Committee approved the revised text provided by the SAR WG for a draft (renumbered) Chapter 10 for MSC’s consideration. It also endorsed revisions to section 2.3 (Communications Equipment) of the Record of additional equipment and operational limitations for the Polar Ship Certificate for MSC consideration. Finally it endorsed the proposed guidance on Chapter 10 (Communication) for possible inclusion in part I-B of the Polar Code for MSC consideration.
Meanwhile, the Ships’ Routing WG revised the (renumbered) Chapter 9 of the Polar Code and this was duly approved by the Sub-Committee for MSC consideration. Revisions to section 2.2 (Navigation equipment) of the Record of additional equipment and operational limitations for the Polar Ship Certificate were also endorsed for MSC consideration.
CONSIDERATION OF IACS UNIFIED INTERPRETATIONS
The subject of ‘Pilot transfer arrangements’ (SOLAS regulation V/23.3.3) provided several lengthy debates. It was recalled that NAV59, noting the length of the pilot boarding ladder should be calculated inclusive of a 15 degree adverse list, reiterated that when considering pilot transfer arrangements of any distance more than 9 metres above the surface of the water under any circumstances, a combination pilot boarding arrangement would be required, in accordance with existing SOLAS regulation V/18.104.22.168.
NAV59 had not agreed with the IACS unified interpretation (UI) on pilot transfer arrangements and requested IACS to reconsider its proposal. IACS did so and submitted document NCSR1/24 which includes a recommended implementation date due to the fact that a change of the Pilot transfer design arrangement might be involved.
However, commenting on the revised UI tabled by IACS, IMPA expressed the view that the NAV59 decision did not propose a change of pilot transfer arrangements but merely confirmed a situation that had already existed for 40 years. After much discussion, the Sub-Committee agreed with IMPA’s interpretation although the Chairman said that interested parties could make submissions to NCSR 2.
In the interim, the Secretariat was instructed to prepare a draft MSC circular containing the text as provided in the Annex to document NCSR 1/24, the IACS submission but deleting the words ‘installed on or after’, also the text in square brackets, including the brackets, and the footnote.
Member Governments are invited to use the UIs provided in paragraphs 1 and 2 above as guidance when applying the relevant provisions of SOLAS regulation V23.3.3 for pilot transfer equipment and to bring them to the attention of all parties concerned.’
For the sake of completeness on this item, the paragraphs 1 and 2 referred to above, address two different and distinct arrangements, the former when only a pilot ladder is provided and the latter, when a combined arrangement of “an accommodation ladder used in conjunction with the pilot ladder” is necessary.
Thank you & Best Regards,
Eng. Dimitrios Nikolaos Spanos