The IMO’s Sub-Committee on Navigation (NAV) held its 58th session from Monday 2 through Friday 6 July 2012 under the Chairmanship of Mr J Sollosi (UNITED STATES). During the course of the meeting he was re-elected as also was his Vice-Chairman, Mr K Billvar (UKRAINE). Three Working Groups were convened (one of which was Technical):
(1) Routeing of Ships, Ship Reporting and Related Matters
(2) Navigational Aids and Related Matters (Technical)
Two Drafting Groups were also convened:
(1) Development of Policy and new Symbols for AIS aids to navigation
(2) Navigation Bridge Visibility
Salient points from the meeting on items of interest to members are as follows:
SHIPS ROUTEING. There were a large number of ships’ routeing proposals, most prominent of which were a total of eight by the NETHERLANDS (three shared with BELGIUM) to amend existing traffic measures and to establish new measures at different locations within the sea area between North Hinder and the traffic separation scheme off Texel near the NL coast. They also included the establishment of a new TSS and deep-water route in the approaches to IJMUIDEN and amendments to the existing deep-water route leading to EUROPOORT. The United States submitted three proposals to amend the existing Traffic Separation Scheme(TSS) in the Santa Barbara Channel, off San Francisco and in the Approaches to Los Angeles-Long Beach. Other proposals of note were those by BRAZIL, AUSTRALIA, also the RUSSIAN FEDERATION, particularly the joint proposal by the last mentioned with Norway called for a new mandatory ship reporting system in the Barents area. A French proposal to amend the Traffic Scheme off ‘Ushant’ was greeted sceptically by the BAHAMAS and CLIA who felt that the two-way proposal would increase the risk of collision due to the placement and narrowing of the route and which would create an increased volume of traffic in an incompatible mix. Notwithstanding these views, a majority within the WG felt that ships in the southbound traffic have more space to change to the route between the TSS off the‘Casquets’ and the TSS off ‘Ushant’, thus reducing the risk of close-quarter situations. It was noted that the proposed amendments are recommendatory and ships may use it on the masters’ discretion. A proposal by SOUTH AFRICA and seven other co-sponsors to establish a new recommended route for all ships in the Mozambique Chanel was denied at Plenary and was not considered by the Routeing WG. There were concerns that the proposal would narrow the route and concentrate the traffic, which could have implications for ship navigation and security safety, including that of the piracy threat. SOUTH AFRICA and the co-sponsors were requested to re-submit a revised proposal to NAV 59. INDONESIA, MALAYSIA and SINGAPORE submitted a proposal whereby night signals (3 vertical all-round green lights) would be displayed by vessels crossing the TSS in the Singapore Strait which would involve possible amendments to the COLREGS in order to establish a universal signal for ships crossing TSSs. The Routeing WG encouraged adoption of the recommendatory measure for vessels crossing the TSS and Precautionary Areas in the Singapore Strait during hours of darkness by means of an SN Circular. However, the point is made that displaying the right signal does not exempt the crossing vessel of its obligations to comply with the COLREGS. In conclusion, apart from the Mozambique proposal, all others were approved by the sub-committee and will be promulgated as navigational notices in due course.
NAVIGATIONAL AIDS AND RELATED MATTERS. With regard to diver locating devices, it was considered these should not operate on the frequencies AIS1 and AIS2 for routine diver locating. These should only be used when a diver is in an emergency situation and in such cases, the device is similar to a MOB device, therefore the parameter and appropriate message for MOB should apply. A draft SN.1 Circular providing information to seafarers on the display of AIS-SART, AIS Man Overboard (MOB) and EPIRB-AIS devices, was approved for forwarding to COMSAR 17 for further consideration and finalisation. Similarly, a draft MSC resolution on the performance standards for Electronic Inclinometers was approved for forwarding to SLF 55 for review and adoption at MSC 92.
E-NAVIGATION. Progress made with regard to the development of detailed on-board e-navigation architecture was noted and an invitation made to IALA, IHO and other relevant organisation s to contribute to further development. Gap analysis has been completed and the final list of gaps of e-navigation approved. A preliminary list of potential e-navigation solutions will be used as the basis for further identification of Risk Control Options in preparation for the Formal Safety Assessment (FSA). A methodology for the Human Element Analysing Process (HEAP) in e-navigation was endorsed as well as that for FSA. Guidelines for usability evaluation of navigational equipment will be further developed as also will that for the harmonisation of test beds. Finally, it was decided to re-establish the Correspondence Group (CG) on e-navigation under the coordination of NORWAY. The CG will give consideration to the issue of software quality assurance, especially important given the reported anomalies that are occurring with ECDIS.
DEVELOPMENT OF POLICY AND NEW SYMBOLS FOR AIS AIDS TO NAVIGATION. The work of the NAV Correspondence Group (CG) on development of draft policy for AIS Aids to Navigation (AIS-AtoN) was submitted by JAPAN in paper NAV58/7. A majority of the delegations who spoke on the issue of options concerning the definition of AIS-AtoN implementation expressed a preference for ‘physical’ and ‘virtual’ rather than ‘synthetic’. The deep misgivings of mariners regarding the development and use of Virtual AtoN were voiced. Also, concern was expressed that the Terms of Reference passed to the CG appear to risk by-passing IMO principles of demonstrating ‘a compelling need’ before considering the introduction of new measures, systems or technology. Concerning the use of AIS-AtoN in passage planning, it was pointed out that, whilst a lighthouse has only limited visual range, an important point of concern is that for Virtual AtoN, no actual or physical object will be visible. As to the development of new symbols for AIS-AtoN, the sub-committee was of the view that this is too early to consider and will be better addressed at NAV59. It was decided to re-establish the CG on development of policy and new symbols for AIS-AtoN under the continued coordination of JAPAN and for it to work intersessionally, reporting to NAV59.
CASUALTY THRESHOLD, SAFE RETURN TO PORT AND SAFE AREAS. It was agreed to delete AIS and the Daylight signalling lamp from the equipment deemed essential for navigation following an accident necessitating a safe return to port.
INFORMATION REGARDING ICE NAVIGATION TRAINING PROJECT. The Nautical Institute advised the meeting of its intention to develop international standards for ice navigation jointly with other industry partners. However, following discussion in Plenary, it was accepted that IMO is the only body to develop international standards relating to safety, security and protection of the marine environment. This would be undertaken following a relevant proposal submitted by a Member Government and approved by either MSC or MEPC.
OPERATING ANOMALIES IDENTIFIED WITH ECDIS. The S-G of IMO will meet with ECDIS manufacturers to discuss the recently identified ECDIS anomalies problem in order to provide suitable guidance to shipping companies and seafarers. IHO plans to hold a workshop from 15 to 16 October 2012 at IMO which will comprise key stakeholders such as IMO and IHO member states, data service providers, ECDIS manufacturers, type-testing authorities and seafarers’ organisations etc to review the way ahead. It was clarified that the term ‘older’ ECDIS systems referred to those which had been manufactured to the original performance standard (resolution A.817(19) as amended by the resolutions MSC.64(67) and MSC.86(70)). The Secretariat informed Plenary that the ECDIS Model Course had been updated and validated by STW 43, and would be published soon. Sadly, ‘soon’ was not as readily defined as the ECDIS ‘older’ but an SN Circular was approved entitled ‘Operating Anomalies identified within ECDIS’.
NAVIGATION BRIDGE VISIBILITY. After a long debate, it was agreed that the NAV 58/5/6 document proposing a new unplanned output ‘Review of SOLAS Regulation V/22 – Navigation Bridge Visibility’ did not provide sufficient justification for a complete revision as an unplanned output. However, subject to MSC approval, the issue will again be considered addressing individual issues and any consequential effects on the remaining parts of the regulation by NAV over two sessions with a Target Completion date of 2014.
Captain Paddy McKnight