The IMO’s Sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation (NAV) held its 59th, and final, session from 2 to 6 September 2013 under the Chairmanship of Mr JM Sollosi (USA) and his Vice-Chairman Mr K Billiar (UKRAINE). Under the revised sub-committee structure, NAV will amalgamate with ‘Communications’ and ‘Search and Rescue’ (formerly COMSAR) to form a new sub-committee (NCSR) which will hold its first meeting from 30 June through 4 July 2014.

Following a welcoming address by the Secretary General of IMO in which he described his recent Arctic trip on a Russian Ice-breaker, he concluded that a Northern Sea Route is now indeed a reality hence demonstrating the need for a Polar Code. He further stated that ECDIS should be top of the [NAVs] priority list and seek to close gaps in coverage.

Working and Drafting Groups were formed and chaired as follows:

WG1 Routeing of Ships, Ship Reporting and Related Matters, Mr K Billiar (UKRAINE)
WG2 (Technical) Navigational Aids and Related Matters, Mr K Fisher (UK)
DG1 Development of Policy and New Symbols for AIS Aids to Navigation, Mr J Arroyo (USA)
DG2 Revision of the Information contained in the existing Annexes to the Recommendation on the use of adequately qualified Deep-Sea Pilots in the North Sea, English Channel, Skagerrak and Baltic, Ms P Bergstedt
The following is a compendium of salient points from the meeting which will be of most interest to Intermanager members:

• TRANSFER SEPARATION SCHEMES (TSS). New schemes were approved, with a view to adoption by MSC, on:

(1) The Pacific coast of Panama with related inshore traffic zones comprising three ports, namely Gulf of Panama, Morro de Puercos and Isla Jicarita.
(2) In addition to TSS measures on the Pacific coast of Panama, it is recommended that, as far as it is safe and practical to do so, ships should proceed at no more than 10 knots from 1 August to 30 November every year (migration period for humpback whales in particular) in order to help reduce the risk of lethal strikes with such cetaceans.
(3) At the approaches to Puerto Cristobal
(4) In addition to new schemes, an editorial amendment to COLREG.2 / Circ 64 was endorsed for the ‘Off Ushant’ TSS adopted by MSC 92.

• ROUTEING MEASURES OTHER THAN TSS’s. Two-way routes were agreed for MSC approval for the:

(1) Prince of Wales Channel, Torres Strait
(2) Great Barrier Reef Inner Route (North) and (South).

• REVOCATION. An existing Area to be Avoided and mandatory No Anchoring Area at El Paso Deep-Water port in the Gulf of Mexico will be recommended for revocation to MSC as the port is no longer in use.

• APPLICATION OF SATELLITE NAVIGATION SYSTEM “BEIDOU” (BDS) IN THE MARITIME FIELD. The sub-committee approved the draft performance standards for shipborne BDS receiver equipment for adoption by MSC and invited the International Electrotechnical Committee (IEC) to develop relevant technical standards in testing for type approval of such equipment.

• VHF DATA EXCHANGE SYSTEM (VDES). This integrates functions of AIS, ASM (Application Specific Messages) and VDE and includes terrestrial and satellite components. It addresses the need to protect the integrity of AIS VDL by moving AIS applications and ASM to other channels. The VDES concept allows the original use of AIS to continue with existing shipborne equipment and can utilise the high quality communications thus afforded by making new use of the VHF band.

Thus it was agreed that further development of the VDES concept is to be supported by IMO but without compromising future requirements on the use of the VHF frequency band.

• GUIDELINES FOR THE ONBOARD OPERATIONAL USE OF SHIPBORNE AUTOMATIC IDENTIFICATION SYSTEMS (AIS). Draft amended text of the relevant revised Assembly resolution will be reviewed and finalised at NCSR1.

• THE E-NAVIGATION WG RECOMMENDATIONS. With the exception of holding an intersessional meeting on e-navigation (as it requires Council’s approval), all other recommendations were accepted by the sub-committee, viz:

(1) Five prioritised potential e-navigation solutions:
S1: improved, harmonised and user-friendly bridge design;
S2: means for standardised and automated reporting;
S3: improved reliability, resilience and integrity of bridge equipment and navigation information;
S4: integration and presentation of available information in displays received via communications equipment, and
S9: improved communication of VTS Service Portfolio (not limited to VTS stations).
(2) Noted the formal Safety Assessment including the finalised Risk and Cost-Benefit Analyses in addition to identified Risk Control Options. Concern was expressed by ICS that the FSA cost figures did not match the experience of shipowners who have fitted comparable equipment; this reservation was shared by 8 (large) member states and 2 other NGOs.
(3) Maritime Service Portfolios (MSPs) should be categorised by geographical areas rather than by type of operation and be linked to the corresponding potential e-navigation solutions. Associated comments will be taken into account by the CG during further development of MSPs as part of the developing Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP).
(4) There should be further development of the draft Guidelines on:
a. Human Centred Design (HCD) for navigational equipment and systems;
b. Usability evaluation of navigational equipment;
c. Software Quality Assurance (SQA) in e-navigation; and
d. The Harmonisation of test beds reporting.
(5) Re-establishment of the CG on e-navigation to finalise the SIP with a view to submitting a consolidated report to NCSR1.

• AIS AIDS TO NAVIGATION (ATons). The sub-committee endorsed a draft MSC circular on the Policy to be used for Atons in addition to a draft SN Circular on Amended Guidelines for the presentation of navigational-related symbols, terms and abbreviations.

• DEEP SEA PILOTAGE. The Drafting Group Assembly resolutions relating to ‘Recommendation on the use of adequately qualified deep sea pilots in the North Sea, English Channel and Skagerrak; also the Baltic Sea, were endorsed by the Sub-Committee for consideration at the next IMO Assembly.

• CONSOLIDATION OF ECDIS-RELATED IMO CIRCULARS. An ad-hoc WG was convened in an attempt to consolidate all ECDIS-related advice in one Circular. Despite PANAMA’s caution that the WG should not produce a document which is just “one more circular”, the WG did just that, a spectacular snub to their Terms of Reference. Given that the target completion date of this unplanned output is 2014, the Chairman subsequently requested members to reconsider the issue so that the task can be completed at the first session of NCSR1.

• CONSIDERATION OF ECDIS MATTERS RELATED TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS IN SOLAS REGULATIONS V/19.2.10 AND V/19.2.11. BIMCO and DENMARK provided the outcome of a survey conducted to obtain ‘information on the implementation of the use of ECDIS and, in particular operating anomalies. In general, it indicated that most ECDIS systems appeared to function without anomalies but that operating anomalies do exist. IHO stated that no major new issue had been identified since NAV 58 and that progress in resolving the outstanding issues with ECDIS operating anomalies was well underway with the active involvement of all key stakeholders. CHINA too reported conducting a survey on ECDIS issues on board Chinese ships, the result of which did not differ markedly from those of the BIMCO / DENMARK study and like them, logged concerns about the [lack of ] user-friendliness of the operating interface of the ECDIS system. In response to a proposed modernisation of ECDIS for operation with VHF DSC, UKRAINE was invited to make a proposal to MSC for an unplanned output to be considered by NCSR1

• CONSIDERATION OF IACS UNIFIED INTERPRETATIONS. IACS UI COLREG 1 with respect to all round lights was agreed by the Sub-Committee. IACS UI SC 257 on pilot transfer arrangements was not agreed by the Sub-Committee and IACS was requested to re-consider their proposal. IACS UI SC 261 gives an interpretation of Performance Standards for voyage data recorders (VDRs) (resolution MSC. 333(90)), in particular, that of the ‘installation’ date. DENMARK, supported by some other delegations voiced opposition as it would be contrary to their known procedures stating that the actual installation date when the equipment is placed on board should be used in all cases, the simplest approach. Accordingly, IACS was invited to re-consider this UI. Completion of Form E in relation to ECDIS for submission to PSC was queried by IACS apropos the use of either paper charts or ECDIS as the means of navigation. Some felt that determination should be by ship management, clearly stated in the ship’s Safety Management System whilst noting that SOLAS regulation V/27 requires nautical charts for the intended voyage, without specifying the form of that chart, ie paper or ENC. IACS offer to develop a UI for consideration by NCSR1 was duly accepted.

• DEVELOPMENT OF A MANDATORY CODE FOR SHIPS OPERATION IN POLAR WATERS. IHO stated that some 95 per cent of the Polar Regions were unsurveyed and appropriate scale chart coverage was inadequate for coastal navigation; mariners should therefore navigate with extreme caution and keep, wherever possible, to recognised shipping corridors. Coastal and Antarctic Treaty States were urged to fulfil their SOLAS obligations and prioritise the undertaking of primary systematic hydrographic surveys to provide safe navigable water for all ships operating in the Polar Regions.

• BRIDGE NAVIGATIONAL WATCH ALARM SYSTEM (BNWAS) AUTO-FUNCTION. The Sub-Committee took the view that it would be appropriate to consider developing BNWAS guidance for Members and industry by preparation of a draft MSC circular for submission to MSC 93. Recognising that the automatic mode of the performance standard is not usable on a ship compliant with the SOLAS Convention, Member Governments were nonetheless invited to use the guidance as an interim measure until such time as the performance standards can be reviewed and revised.

Captain Paddy McKnight


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