The IMO Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications, Search and Rescue held its 2nd Session (NCSR2) from Monday 9 through Friday 13 March 2015. 78 Member plus 1 Associate States together with 2 UN and specialised agencies were represented and, in addition, there were 7 Inter-Governmental and 26 Non-Governmental organisations attending. The meeting was chaired by Mr Carlos Salgado (CHILE) and his Vice-Chair, Mr Ringo Lakeman (NETHERLANDS); however both made it known that they would not be seeking subsequent re-election. Notwithstanding, following debate in Plenary, Mr Lakeman was elevated to the post of Chair for 2016 whilst Mr Nigel Clifford (NEW ZEALAND) was appointed as Vice-Chair.


In his opening address, the IMO Secretary General referred to the high-level United Nations Agencies meeting held at IMO during the preceding week. This affirmed that IMO would continue to spear-head the effort into curtailing the numbers of migrants calling for rescue at sea. If growth continues at its current rate, the 200,000 migrants rescued in 2014 will be eclipsed by a factor of more than 2 in 2015 i.e. 400,000 / 450,000 migrants will be calling for rescue at sea which will result in an increased number of merchant ship SOLAS-driven rescue diversions.


Tribute was paid to the Italian SAR force deployed in the Mediterranean under the MARE NOSTRUM operation which has now been terminated, however the recently activated EU TRITON operation will solely monitor EU borders and does not replace it. An IMO Information Paper on Mass Migration by Sea will be produced shortly in time for perusal by the Legal Committee meeting in April and subsequently by the Maritime Safety Committee and then the IMO Council.


Three Working Groups (WG) and one Drafting Group (DG) were formed and chaired as follows:


WG1 Navigation, Mr R Lakeman (NETHERLANDS)
WG2 Communications, Mr A Schwarz (GERMANY)
WG3 Search and Rescue, Mr N Clifford (NEW ZEALAND)
DG1 LRIT (Long Range Identification and Tracking of ships), Mr P Giovanni Taranti (BRAZIL)


Following is a selection of salient points from the meeting on items of most interest to InterManager Members:


  • REPORT OF THE NAVIGATION WORKING GROUP. The Sub-Committee approved WG1’s report in general and, in particular:


  1. approved the establishment of:
  2. two way routes in the south-west Coral Sea;
  3. an area to be avoided in the south-west Coral Sea;
  4. five areas to be avoided in the region of the Aleutian Islands;
  5. endorsed finalised model document templates for ships’ routeing and ship reporting system proposals; and
  6. endorsed a draft MSC circular on ‘Guidelines on Software Quality Assurance and Human Centred Design for e-navigation’ whilst agreeing that the HTW Sub-Committee does not need to be involved in the finalisation of such Guidelines, despite views to the contrary expressed most notably by NORWAY.


  • RECOGNITION OF GALILEO AS A COMPONENT OF THE WWRNS.   Information was provided by the EU on the status and performance of the World Wide Radio Navigation System (WWRNS) including confirmation of Galileo alignment with IMO objectives and suitability of its Open Service for navigation in ocean, coastal, port approach and restricted waters, also inland waterways. With a system accuracy of 4m and minimum availability of 99.5% over the entire lifetime of the system, plus the use of Received Autonomous Integrity Monitoring (RAIM) techniques, Galileo possesses the ability to enhance performance when used in combination (multi-constellation GNSS) and augmentation (differential) systems to support port operations. In considering the information provided, the Sub-Committee invited the European Commission to provide an assurance that there would be no future mandatory requirement to carry shipborne Galileo receiver equipment for ships sailing in European waters and noted that further information and evaluation material will be submitted to NCSR3.


  • UPDATES TO THE LRIT SYSTEM.   The Sub-Committee noted information provided by IMSO (International Mobile Satellite Organisation) related to the audit of LRIT Data Centres (DCs) between March 2013 and January 2015, along with summary audit reports available in the LRIT Data Distribution Plan (DDP) module of the Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS), in particular that:


  1. the VENEZUELA NDC could not be conducted for a fourth consecutive year since its integration in 2010;
  2. the EQUADOR NDC was removed from the 2014 audit calendar given that it is no longer part of the LRIT system; and
  3. the suspended 2013 audit of the MOROCCO NDC was resumed.


Following lengthy discussion in Plenary, the Drafting Group (DG) on LRIT was instructed to review draft amendments proposed by IMSO in document NCSR 2/5/3. The DG subsequently presented a draft MSC resolution on Amendments to the Revised performance standards and functional requirements for the Long-range Identification and Tracking of ships (LRIT) (resolution MSC.263(84), as amended) for MSC adoption. Draft amendments to the LRIT Technical documentation, parts I and II were also forwarded to MSC for approval.


  • PERFORMANCE STANDARDS FOR MULTI-SYSTEM SHIPBORNE NAVIGATION SYSTEMS.   Following a short discussion in Plenary regarding AUSTRALIA’s updated draft performance standards for shipborne receiver equipment capable of using a combination of radio-navigation systems (and noting the need for caution advocated by GERMANY), relevant documents were referred to WG2 following consideration of which a draft MSC resolution will be forwarded to MSC 95 for approval.


  • DRAFT GUIDELINES FOR RELIABLE POSITION, NAVIGATION AND TIME (PNT) DATA PROCESSING.   Following Plenary discussion on a proposal by GERMANY related to the development of a concept for an open, harmonised and extendable onboard PNT system, the matter was referred to WG2. As a result of WG2’s deliberations, the Sub-Committee agreed to amend the IMO output title to ‘Guidelines associated with multi-system shipborne radio-navigation receivers dealing with the harmonised provision of PNT data and integrity information’, with 2017 as the target completion year.




  1. it has started to prepare for the Iridium evaluation process and is keeping the USA (sponsoring Government) and IMO informed of progress;
  2. it has established a Group of Experts to perform technical and operational evaluation;
  3. all five different elements will be dealt with in relation to Earth Stations i.e. Space Segment, Mobile Terminals, Terrestrial Networks, GMDSS and Search and Rescue communications; and
  4. it will report the technical and operational evaluation results to NCSR3.


During the ensuing discussion in Plenary, many views were expressed, most pertinent of which to InterManager Members were that:


  1. the terrestrial systems will provide suitable inter-operability, also national administrations should remain responsible for reliable communication connections within their RCCs;
  2. inter-operability regarding ship-to-ship communications between users of different satellite systems needs to be addressed; and
  3. RCCs should not need to install an Iridium shipborne terminal to communicate with Iridium-equipment fitted ships, the normal telephone network should suffice.


  • FIRST OUTLINE OF THE DETAILED REVIEW OF THE GLOBAL MARITIME DISTRESS AND SAFETY SYSTEM (GMDSS).   The Sub-Committee noted that the 21st session of the ICAO/IMO Joint Working Group on Search and Rescue had considered issues related to the Review and Modernisation of GMDSS, also that the comments and recommendations made by the Joint IMO/ITU Experts Group at their meeting on Maritime Radio-communication matters in October 2014 had been forwarded to the Correspondence Group on GMDSS Review. Views were expressed in Plenary that the use of additional mobile satellite communication systems posed operational problems and needed close examination in terms of inter-operability and operating costs. In addition, the integration of different future mobile satellite systems also needs to be considered, particularly the repercussions for the operational requirement as well as that of the SAR infrastructure. The Sub-committee then referred the relevant part of the Experts Group report, also that of the Correspondence Group to WG2 for detailed consideration and in its subsequent report to the Sub-Committee, WG2’s opinions were expressed included the following:


  1. agreement in principle to the definitions of sea areas A3 and A4 as proposed by the GMDSS Correspondence Group together with a list of 10 consequential matters to be considered such as implications for SAR, effect on ship’s certificates, HF carriage requirements, etc;
  2. the need for a definition of interoperability applicable to all GMDSS providers, existing and future;
  3. concerns about the costs associated with the approval of additional GMDSS service providers (which will be addressed by the CG);
  4. the necessity to protect the integrity of the GMDSS, perhaps by introducing suitable Performance Standards for man overboard devices (MOB) and equipment;
  5. the merits (and drawbacks) of PLBs (Personal Locator Beacons) as radio equipment for survival craft and / or carried on persons, as opposed to the more costly EPIRBs.
  6. the importance of maintaining MF/HF communication systems as a suitable alternative back-up in case satellite communication systems fail due to solar events. In this connection, given that the information on MF/HF DSC stations on shore as contained in the GMDSS Master Plan, is not reliable, Contracting Governments should be invited to update such information at the next meeting of the Joint IMO/ITU Expert Group meeting in October 2015; and
  7. a recommendation inviting SOLAS Contracting Governments to present information and statistics on the use of NBDP (Narrow Band Direct Printing) in distress communications for vessels sailing in sea area A3, also to be considered by the October 2015 Joint Experts Group.


  • ANALYSIS OF INFORMATION ON DEVELOPMENTS IN INMARSAT AND COSPAS-SARSAT.   The Sub-Committee noted the information provided in the report of the ICAO/IMO Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting on the Harmonisation of Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue held at IMO HQ from 15 to 19 September 2014 and:


  1. requested Cospas-Sarsat to provide information for RCCs on the operational and technical implications following introduction of the MEOSAR (Medium Earth Orbit SAR) system; and
  2. referred consideration of the required period of time for storage of Cospas-Sorsat data for potential future access by accident investigations to WG3, for advice.


In response to the liaison statement from Cospas-Sorsat proposing modification to resolution A.810(19) with regard to homing on the frequency 121.5 MHZ , the JWG agreed that keeping the same level of performance of the 121.5MHZ final homing capability was an area of concern and despite asking for further evidence of such for NCSR2, no submissions have been forthcoming. In view of this, a new unplanned output to update resolution A810(19) and chapter IV of SOLAS including the deployment of the Cospas-Sarsat MEOSAR system and the issuance of a second generation 406 MHZ Distress Beacon has been submitted to MSC95 for consideration.


  • REPORT OF WG3 ON SAR.   The Sub-Committee approved WG3s report in general and in particular:


  1. instructed the JWG to further consider in detail the issue of regarding the required period of time for storage of Cospas-Sorsat data for potential further access by accident investigators;
  2. approved a revision to SAR.7/Circ11 containing an updated List of documents and publications which should be held by a Maritime or Joint Rescue Coordination Centre;
  3. noted JWG discussion on cooperation and coordination between civil and military organisations in the field of Search and Rescue;
  4. requested Cospas-Sarsat to provide information for RCCs on the operational and technical implications pertaining to the introduction of the MEOSAR system for SAR services;
  5. encouraged SAR experts to contribute to the International Maritime Rescue Federation’s (IMRF) ongoing Mass Rescue Operation (MRO) project by submitting information concerning lessons learned and SAR good practice to the online reference library;
  6. requested the Secretariat to instruct ‘Publishing Service’ to make the IAMSAR (International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue) Volume III Action Cards available for separate purchase and enable the electronic version of the Action Cards to be printed;
  7. drew attention to the United States Coast Guard website under the “International” button as an example to Member States on how the distribution and communication of SAR information might be improved;
  8. requested the Secretariat to consider locating the latest version of all SAR related documents in one section during website restructuring;
  9. encouraged Member States to submit ‘information’ with regard to Electronic Visual Distress Signalling Devices (EVDSD) to the JWG in due course;
  10. encouraged Member States to consider implementing a 3 or 4 digit telephone number to contact MRCCs and sub-centres on a national or regional basis, recognising that a global solution might be technically too challenging;
  11. noted the WG’s view that the Secretariat should merge proposed amendments to the IAMSAR Manual emanating from COMSAR17, NCSR1 AND NCSR2; and
  12. endorsed draft amendments to the IAMSAR Manual, requesting MSC to approve them for inclusion in the 2016 edition.


  • FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF THE GLOBAL SAR PLAN FOR THE PROVISION OF MARITIME SAR SERVICES.   It was noted that the Global SAR Plan available on GISIS has recently been updated by several Member Governments. Given that the status of the availability of SAR services changes day by day, providing up-to-date information directly to GISIS is of the most utmost importance as it enables the RCCs to act promptly without losing precious time when about to deal with a distress situation.


  • REPORT ON MONITORING OF ECDIS ISSUES BY THE IHO.   Information on the outcome of the continuing monitoring of ECDIS issues related to implementation of the carriage requirements in SOLAS regulations V/19.2.10 and V/19.2.11 was provided by IHO who reported that resolving the known issues associated with ECDIS operating anomalies was progressing normally with active involvement by all key stakeholders and no new issues have been identified since NAV 58. Concern was expressed by the IHO Secretariat having recently been informed that some port authorities might require the carriage of paper charts in addition to an adequate set of ENCs, even though the ship is using ECDIS in accordance with the carriage requirements set out in SOLAS regulation V/


  • DATE OF NEXT MEETING.   29 February to 4 March 2016.


Captain Paddy McKnight                                                                                                                 END


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