The IMO Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue held its 8th Session (NCSR 8) from Monday 19 through Friday 23 April 2021. Mr R. Lakeman (NETHERLANDS) chaired the meeting on his final appearance, assisted by Vice Chair, Mr N Clifford (NEW ZEALAND). Mr Clifford was subsequently elected to the Chair for 2022 together with his Vice Chair, Mr Alexander Schwarz (GERMANY). A Working Group (WG), was formed, adding to the efforts of the Intersessional Working Group on Communications which met from 7 to 13 April 2021. The Groups were chaired as follows:
- WG1 Navigation, Mr J Brouwers (NETHERLANDS)
- ISWG-COM Communications, Mr A Schwarz (GERMANY)
The meeting was attended by representatives from Member States, Associate Members of IMO, UN and Specialised Agencies, Inter-Governmental and Non-Governmental Organisations. Items of particular interest to InterManager members are as follows:
ADDRESS BY THE SECRETARY GENERAL. The Secretary General welcomed delegates to the eighth session of the Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue, its first remote session. He commenced by expressing profound regret and deep sorrow on the death of HRH the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh; the seafaring community being particularly moved by his loss given his strong commitment to maritime pursuits and his dedication to the Royal Navy, which he served with such honour and bravery. A message of condolence was sent to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth on behalf of IMO’s Member States.
Mr Lim spoke of working tirelessly with UN sister organisations and social partners to ensure global recognition of seafarers as “key workers” in the COVID-19 pandemic and to prioritise their vaccination, thereby facilitating safe movement across borders. In this connection, he drew attention to this year’s World Maritime Theme: “Seafarers: at the core of shipping’s future” thus providing a unique opportunity to help protect seafarers’ rights and raise awareness of their exceptional contribution to world trade despite the ongoing pandemic.
As it had done for other Sub-Committees, MSC 102 approved a reduced agenda for the session given that the workload needs to be accommodated in significantly less time than is normally available. Nevertheless, NCSR 8 will consider the reports of the sixteenth meeting of the Joint IMO/ITU Experts Group on Maritime Radiocommunication Matters, the twenty-seventh meeting of the ICAO/IMO Joint Working Group on Harmonisation of Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue and, two correspondence groups that were established by NCSR 7.
Building on the work carried out intersessionally, he encouraged delegates to make progress on substantive items on the agenda for this session, such as:
- Revision of SOLAS chapter IV for Modernisation of the GMDSS, including other consequential amendments;
- Revision of the Guidelines on places of refuge for ships in need of assistance;
- Consideration of Safety measures for non-SOLAS ships operating in polar waters; and,
- Consideration of developments in GMDSS services, maritime SAR services and other maritime radiocommunication matters.
Wishing delegates well, he concluded by saying that notwithstanding the reduced agenda, it covers a highly diverse set of subjects opening the way for open and informative discussions, thus enabling progress on the important items under consideration.
DECISIONS OF OTHER IMO BODIES. The Sub-Committee noted the decisions and comments pertaining to its work by ALCOM/ES, FAL 44, C 124 AND MSC 102 as reported in document NCSR 8/2 and took them into account when dealing with relevant agenda items. In particular, it was noted that FAL 44 had instructed its Expert Group on Data Harmonisation to provide NCSR with information on the work in progress and that it had agreed to keep MSC and NCSR informed on the progress of the work on the new output on “Development of guidelines for harmonised communication and electronic exchange of operational data for port calls”.
ROUTEING MEASURES AND MANDATORY SHIP REPORTING SYSTEMS. The Sub-Committee considered document NCSR 8/3 submitted by the Secretariat which provided an overview of the challenges it faced due to an increased workload, in particular to deal with proposals concerning ships’ routeing measures and ship reporting systems, including other navigation-related matters. Following fairly lengthy discussion and due consideration, the Sub-Committee:
- Invited the Committee (MSC) to approve the holding of a meeting of the Experts Group on Ships’ Routeing in advance of the plenary session of NCSR 9, giving preliminary consideration to all proposals submitted to NCSR 9 under the agenda item on “Routeing measures and mandatory ship reporting systems”, and to advise the Sub-Committee on any necessary measures and/or systems to be adopted, as appropriate; and,
- Agreed to consider, based on experience gained at NCSR 9, any necessary arrangements to address the workload of the Sub-Committee on ships’ routeing and ship reporting systems at future sessions, including the possibility of addressing also other navigation-related matters.
RECOGNITION OF THE JAPANESE REGIONAL NAVIGATION SATELLITE SYSTEM QUASI-ZENITH SATELLITE SYSTEM (QZSS) AND DEVELOPMENT OF PERFORMANCE STANDARDS FOR SHIPBORNE SATELLITE NAVIGATION SYSTEM RECEIVER EQUIPMENT.
Recognition of the Japanese regional navigation satellite system QZSS as a component of the WWRNS. The Sub-Committee recalled that MSC 102 had adopted the Performance standards for shipborne Japanese Quasi-Zenith satellite System (QZSS) receiver equipment (resolution MSC 480 (102)), pending recognition of QZSS as a component of the worldwide Radionavigation System (WWRNS). It was also recalled that, in order for a new navigation system to be recognised by the Organisation, the requirements set out in resolution A.915(22) and A.1046(27) should be taken into account.
In response, Japan submitted document NCSR 8/4 providing information on the QZSS, seeking its recognition as a component of the WWRNS, and providing a draft SN circular for this purpose. In particular, it was noted that Japan was seeking recognition of QZSS to assist in the navigation of ships in ocean waters, as well as coastal, port approach, restricted waters and inland waterways within the geographical area specified in the draft SN circular.
A letter from the Government of Japan advised that the necessary requirements set out in the above resolutions had been fulfilled for QZSS and that it would be available on a non-discriminatory basis to all users at the specified levels of performance. The letter further advised that the Government of Japan:
- Was committed to ensuring availability of the QZSS Open Services for the use of the international community;
- Planned to take all measures for the foreseeable future to maintain the integrity, continuity and availability of the QZSS Open services; and,
- Expected to provide at least six years notice prior to any termination of QZSS operation or elimination of the QZSS Open Services.
During consideration, the Republic of Korea (ROK) raised concerns regarding territorial issues and the provision of QZSS services, requesting postponement of QZSS’s recognition until such issues had been resolved. Such reservations were echoed by China and to a lesser extent, the Russian Federation. This was refuted by Japan who argued that the matter at hand was the technical consideration of QZSS and whether the services met the requirements for recognition as a component of the WWRNS. In the following debate, a slightly larger number of delegations that took the floor, supported the recognition of QZSS, in principle, encouraging the relevant parties to work collaboratively with a view to addressing the concerns raised by the ROK, China and the Russian Federation.
After consideration, and noting general support for the recognition of QZSS, the sub-Committee agreed that QZSS should be duly recognised as a component of the WWRNS suitable for use in ocean waters, as well as coastal, port approach, restricted waters and inland waterways within the geographical area specified. Accordingly, the Sub-Committee invited the Committee to recognise QZSS and approve the draft SN circular on recognition of the Worldwide Radionavigation System, pointing out to those who do not support such recognition, that they will have the opportunity to further argue their case at MSC.
Performance standards for shipborne satellite navigation system receiver equipment. It was recalled that NCSR 7 had agreed that the work on the development of generic performance standards for shipborne satellite receiver equipment should continue in the context of “satellite” navigation receiver equipment only and, in this respect, invited interested parties to progress the work intersessionally and submit relevant proposals to NCSR 8 for finalisation. Two documents were submitted, one of which proposed the establishment of a Correspondence Group, under the coordination of Germany. This was duly agreed and the Group was instructed to finalise a draft MSC resolution on generic performance standards for shipborne satellite navigation system receiver equipment, addressing in particular, the relationship with existing performance standards already adopted by the Organisation, and submitting a report to NCSR 9.
Renaming of the output and extension of the target completion year. Noting the completion of the work related to the recognition of the Japanese regional navigation satellite system QZSS as a component of the WWRNS, the Sub-Committee invited the Committee to rename the output 2.12 as “Development of generic performance standards for shipborne satellite navigation system receiver equipment” and to extend the target completion year to 2022.
SAFETY MEASURES FOR NON-SOLAS SHIPS OPERATING IN POLAR WATERS.
The sub-Committee noted that NCSR 7 had established a Correspondence Group on safety Measures for Non-SOLAS Ships Operating in Polar Waters under the coordination of New Zealand and that the target completion year of this output had been extended to 2022. Noting that the item was not ready for completion at this session, it was agreed that a Correspondence Group should be re-established to continue the work intersessionally and in the interim, deferred to the Navigation Working Group for advice.
After due consideration of the Group’s report, the Sub-Committee;
- Agreed that draft amendments to the Polar Code to be developed should be limited to the existing parts I-A and I-B;
- Agreed, in principle, that the scope of application of the relevant regulations to be developed in part I-A should be extended as a minimum to fishing vessels of 350 GT and above; pleasure yachts of 300 GT and above not engaged in trade; and, cargo ships of 300GT and above but below 500GT;
- Agreed that draft amendments to SOLAS chapter XIV should be developed in order to extend the application of the Polar Code to other ships and address exemptions and discretions;
- Agreed to re-establish the Correspondence Group under the coordination of Norway, and to the draft terms of reference; and,
- Noted the view of the Group that virtual meetings could be convened as necessary in order to assist progress.
REVISION OF SOLAS CHAPTERS III AND IV FOR MODERNISATION OF THE GMDSS, INCLUDING RELATED AND CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS TO OTHER EXISTING INSTRUMENTS.
Report of the intersessional meeting of the Communications Working Group. The report of the Group meeting, which was held remotely from 7 to 13 April 2021 was considered by the Sub-Committee, taking action as summarised in the ensuing paragraphs.
Draft amendments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention and 1988 SOLAS Protocol. The Sub-Committee agreed to the draft amendments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention and the 1988 SOLAS Protocol with a view to approval by MSC 105.
Consequential draft amendments to Codes. The Sub-Committee noted the consideration of the Group, based on the report of IMO/ITU EG 16, and agreed to the draft amendments to the 1994 and 2000 HSC Codes, the 1983 and 2008 SPS Codes and the 1979, 1989, and 2009 MODU Codes, including the requisite draft MSC resolutions with a view to approval by MSC 104 and subsequent adoption by MSC 105, in conjunction with the adoption of related amendments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention.
Draft amendments and revisions to resolutions and circulars. The Sub-Committee agreed to the following draft resolutions, with a view to approval, in principle, by MSC 104 and adoption by MSC 105, on:
- System performance standard for the promulgation and coordination of maritime safety information (MSI) using high-frequency narrow-band direct printing;
- Performance standards for the reception of MSI and SAR related information by MF (NAVTEX) and HF;
- Provision of radio services for the GMDSS, revising and superceding resolution A.801(19), as amended;
- Performance standards for SAR radar transponders;
- Performance standards for shipborne VHF radio installations capable of voice communication and digital selective calling;
- Performance standards for shipborne MF and MF/HF radio installations capable of voice communication, digital selective calling and reception of MSI and SAR related information;
- Draft MSC resolution on Performance standards for Inmarsat-C ship earth stations capable of transmitting and receiving direct-printing communications;
- Guidelines for the avoidance of false distress alerts;
- Performance standards for survival craft portable two-way VHF radiotelephone apparatus;
- Amendments to the performance standards for radiocommunication equipment; and,
- Performance standards for a shipborne integrated communication system (ICS) when used in the GMDSS.
Other matters. The Sub-Committee agreed to revision of the following circulars:
- Guidance on the validity of radiocommunications equipment installed and used on ships;
- Guidelines for shore-based maintenance of satellite EPIRBs; and,
- Guidelines on annual testing of 406 MHz satellite EPIRBs.
RESPONSE TO MATTERS RELATED TO THE ITU-R STUDY GROUPS AND ITU WORLD RADIOCOMMUNICATION CONFERENCE.
Report of the Joint IMO/ITU Experts Group on Maritime Radiocommunications Matters. The Sub-Committee considered matters emanating from the report of the sixteenth meeting of the Joint IMO/ITU Experts Group on Maritime Radiocommunication Matters (IMO/ITU EG 16) which was held by correspondence from 3 July to 18 September 2020, chaired by Mr C Rissone (France), and in addition, seven other submissions. Actions are summarised in the ensuing paragraphs.
Preliminary draft IMO position on relevant WRC-23 agenda items. The Sub-Committee noted the progress made by IMO/ITU EG 16 on the preliminary draft IMO position on relevant WRC-23 (World Radiocommunications Conference). Noting that this matter is still work in progress, it was agreed to refer relevant documents to the next meeting of the IMO/ITU Experts Group for detailed consideration in further developing the draft IMO position.
Use of public broadband communication and technical standardisation for public mobile networks in the context of maritime safety. The Sub-Committee noted the consideration of IMO/ITU EG 16 on this issue and in particular, that the Experts Group had invited interested Member States and organisations to submit proposals to NCSR 8 in order to provide clear direction to them. In this context, the ROK tabled a document proposing terms of reference for the Experts Group concerning consideration of the use of public broadband communication technology and technical standardisation for public mobile networks in the context of maritime safety, whilst IMSO submitted a document commenting on that tabled by the ROK. During consideration, the delegations that took the floor expressed support in general to the ROK’s proposal, recognising also the potential benefits for shipping, following which interested parties were invited to submit relevant proposals for a new output to the Committee in order to address this matter as part of the working plan of the Sub-Committee.
Electromagnetic interference (EMI) effects of light emitting diode (LED) lighting systems and their impact on maritime safety. The Sub-Committee noted the comments and proposals made at IMO/ITU 16 concerning the EMI effects of LED lighting systems and other sources of EMI on board vessels. A liaison statement from the ITU-R Working Party 1A provided information on interference to maritime systems from LED lighting systems, expressing a desire that all parties involved, share the results of studies and collaborate in finding a solution to this pervasive problem, and offering its resources to assist in the work. In addition, CIRM submitted a document concerning a proposal for a mandatory dial-indication requirement for VHF/MF/HF radio receiving equipment to show actually received noise levels. Following a short discussion, the Sub-Committee agreed to refer the matter back to the Experts Group for further consideration and to advise NCSR 9, as appropriate.
Revision of Recommendation ITU-R M.1371-5. NCSR 6 considered a liaison statement from ITU-R Working Party 5B (NCSR 6/12/8) requesting information with respect to the work towards the revision of the above recommendation on Technical characteristics for an automatic identification system using time division multiple access in the VHF maritime mobile frequency band, to which a response has been sent. Recognising that this was a matter requiring further consideration, the Sub-Committee:
- Agreed to refer relevant documents submitted by the Secretariat and UK to the next meeting of the Joint IMO/ITU Experts Group for consideration and to advise NCSR 9; and,
- Approved a draft liaison statement to ITUR Working Party 5B on Revision of Recommendation ITU-R.1371-5 and invited MSC to endorse the action taken.
Protection of GMDSS terminals operating in the frequency band 1 518-1 559 MHz from IMT systems. It was recalled that NCSR 7 had sent a liaison statement to CEPT ECC on Protection of L-band maritime satellite communications, which was copied to ITU-R Working Parties 4C, 5B, and 5D, ICS and IMSO. Two documents were submitted, the first by IMSO and CIRM summarising the work currently under way and the second by IMSO commenting on the first document and providing additional information and proposals based on considerations at a meeting of ITU-R Working Party 4C, held from 15 to 19 February 2021. After discussion, the Sub-Committee agreed to the proposed liaison statement put forward in document NCSR 8/7/6 which will be sent to ITU-R Working Parties 4C and 5D by the Secretariat, inviting MSC to endorse the action taken.
Potential risks to C-band spectrum usage at Inmarsat’s Burum Land Earth Station (LES). The Sub-Committee noted the information provided by IMSO in document NCSR 8/7/8 concerning the potential risks to C-band spectrum usage at Inmarsat’s Burum LES in the Netherlands from SG related services, and invited IMSO to keep the Sub-Committee informed of future developments. Inmarsat and the administrations concerned were invited to make further efforts to avoid interruption to the distress and safety communications provided by Inmarsat. Concerns were expressed by several delegations on these developments, in particular the issues arising recently due to increased spectrum demand by non-Maritime services.
Next meeting of the Joint IMO/ITU Experts Group. The Sub-Committee agreed to holding a meeting of IMO/ITU EG 17 from 1 to 5 November 2021
REVISION OF THE GUIDELINES ON PLACES OF REFUGE FOR SHIPS IN NEED OF ASSISTANCE (RESOLUTION A.949(23)).
It was recalled that NCSR had established a Correspondence Group on this item under the coordination of the UK. Noting that revision of the resolution would require consultation with both MEPC and LEG committees, and in order to achieve the target completion, MSC authorised NCSR to submit the revised Guidelines direct to MEPC and LEG for concurrent approval, with a view to subsequent adoption by A 32.
As coordinator, the UK tabled document NCSR 8/8 containing the report of the Group whilst IACS submitted a commenting document proposing modifications to the revision of the resolution. During the ensuing discussion, the following main concerns were expressed:
- The use of mandatory language within the Guidelines which could be construed as obligations for Member States;
- The change in general objective from facilitating the designation of places of refuge to harmonising procedures;
- The revised Guidelines did not address the role of Flag States and, in contrast, presented a significant burden on coastal States;
- Part V (Exclusive Economic Zone) of the UN Convention on the Law of the sea (UNCLOS) was not taken into consideration;
- The need for International and regional cooperation to be addressed in a similar manner in different regions and would need further consideration;
- Risk assessments such as social and environmental factors, public safety, possible pollution and sensitive areas should be made by the coastal State involved, rather than the Master of the ship concerned; and,
- The role of the companies also needs to be considered for possible inclusion in the revised Guidelines.
After consideration, the Sub-Committee referred the draft revision of A.949(23) to the Navigation Working Group for review and finalisation. However, due to time constraints, the review of the draft resolution could not be completed and instead, the Correspondence Group was re-established for this purpose under the UK’s coordination. The Group was given suitable terms of reference, including flexibility to use virtual meeting platforms in addition to the usual email correspondence, and instructed to submit a report as instructed.
DEVELOPMENTS IN GMDSS SERVICES, INCLUDING GUIDELINES ON MARITIME SAFETY INFORMATION (MSI).
General. The Sub-committee noted that MSC 102 agreed to combine outputs 6.2 “Developments in GMDSS satellite services” and OW 6 “Updating of the GMDSS Master Plan and guidelines on Maritime safety information (MSI)”, renaming output 6.2 as “Developments in GMDSS services, including guidelines on Maritime safety information (MSI)”
Revision of the Interim Iridium SafetyCast manual. A revision was proposed in submission (NCSR 8/9) by the World-Wide Navigational Service Sub-Committee (WWNS-SC) and the WMO Services Commission together with a paper by the UK commenting in particular on the use of C codes and monitoring broadcast, expressing the view that further work on the manual is needed. During discussion, the Chair of the WWNS-SC indicated that the IHO WWNS-SC Document Review Working Group (DWRG) could continue to work on the draft revision of the manual in order to progress the matter satisfactorily. In addition, the UK was invited to review the proposed draft revision of the Interim Iridium SafetyCast service manual (MSC.1/Circ.1613), taking into account the comments and views expressed, with a view to consideration at a future session.
Annual reports of recognised mobile satellite service providers. The Sub-Committee noted that in document NCSR 8/9/1 submitted by IMSO, Inmarsat had successfully provided the recognised mobile satellite services for distress and safety communications in the GMDSS during the period from 1 October 2019 to 30 September 2020. Following on from that, in document NCSR 8/8/2, IMSO also affirmed that, in the period from 19 December 2019 to 31 October 2020, Iridium had remained compliant with the provisions of resolution A.1001(25) and fulfilled the company’s public service obligation as stated in the PSA, as practically as possible under the current operational status of its recognised services.
Information communicated to IMO concerning the implementation of the Iridium SafetyCast service. Note was taken of the information provided in document NCSR 8/9/4 by the Secretariat on the implementation of the Iridium SafetyCast service and the progress of modifications to the GMDSS Master Plan module of GISIS to reflect such information.
Status of implementation of Iridium GMDSS SAR services. Document NCSR 8/9/15 (United States) provided a list of Rescue Coordination Centres (RCCs) associated with Iridium for the purpose of distributing distress alert relays and SAR-related information, as well as for receiving distress alerts; and the existence of an enrolment procedure for RCCs willing to disseminate and receive SAR-related information from Iridium recognised GMDSS services. Further, document NCSR 8/INF.8 describes the procedures for a RCC to enrol and become an Iridium GMDSS SAR service associated RCC.
Dissemination of MSI and SAR related information over different recognised mobile satellite services, including broadcast monitoring. NCSR 7 considered information and proposals concerning the dissemination of Maritime safety information (MSI) and SAR-related information over different recognised mobile satellite services, including broadcast monitoring and cost-related issues. Subsequently, MSC 102, having noted the discussion at NCSR 7, agreed to defer consideration of this matter to MSC 103 (5-14 May 2021). In doing so, the Committee, inter alia:
- Noted the comments on interoperability and concerns expressed on cost implications concerning the dissemination of MSI and SAR-related information over multiple GMDSS recognised mobile satellite services, including additional equipment and personnel;
- Invited IMSO to liaise with GMDSS recognised mobile satellite service providers regarding the implementation of an automatic self-confirmation broadcast functionality and monitoring capability by the satellite service provider and advise NCSR as appropriate;
- Invited interested Member States and international organisations to submit further proposals to MSC 103, in particular on how to spread the cost of dissemination of MSI to ships and/or to eliminate the shore-to-ship charge for MSI; and,
- Instructed NCSR to consider technical solutions for dissemination of MSI and SAR-related information such as implementing a single web interface being considered by IHO and interested Member States, also the need for amendments to relevant resolutions to address broadcast monitoring requirements, advising the Committee, as appropriate.
Five documents were submitted but recognising the time limitations to holding an in-depth consideration at this session, the Chair invited the Sub-Committee to concentrate, in particular, on:
- Technical solutions for dissemination of MSI and SAR-related information;
- Broadcast monitoring requirements; and,
- The use by MSI and SAR information providers of all GMDSS recognised mobile satellite services within their geographic areas of responsibility.
Technical solutions. Views were expressed that the matter of interoperability between mobile satellite services should be further considered but that prior to resolving this issue, consideration should be given to establishing appropriate transitional arrangements for the dissemination of MSI and SAR-related information over multiple recognised mobile satellite services. It was also pointed out that the implementation of an EGC API and a single interface for MSI dissemination was a positive step forward.
Broadcast monitoring requirements. Views were expressed that MSI and SAR-related information providers should have the opportunity to make an informed decision on broadcast monitoring. It was also indicated that the use of technical solutions for automatic self-confirmation of MSI broadcast by recognised mobile satellite service providers should be subject to a more detailed assessment before amending the relevant resolutions. In addition, it was further indicated that resolution A.1001(25) should include a requirement for recognised mobile satellite service providers to advocate technical options enabling achievement of broadcast monitoring.
Use of recognised mobile satellite services. A view was expressed that an agreement with one of the recognised satellite providers should be sufficient for compliance of MSI and SAR-related information providers to broadcast information within their area of responsibility. It was also indicated that MSI and SAR-related information providers should conclude agreements with all recognised mobile satellite service providers and, therefore, the issue that should be addressed is the cost for information providers to disseminate the information. It was further indicated that before making the use of all recognised mobile satellite services mandatory for dissemination of MSI and SAR-related information, a policy decision by the Committee would be needed to address the cost burden for information providers.
Further views were expressed that end users should not bear any extra costs due to the inclusion of new recognised mobile satellite services and a re-vamped business model for dissemination of MSI and SAR-related information should be discussed amongst IMO Member States, IHO and WMO, as a consequence of recognising new mobile satellite services for use in the GMDSS. This would ensure that the cost associated with the dissemination of such information would not be borne just by NAVAREA and METAREA Coordinators and SAR authorities.
Having noted the views expressed during the debate and mindful of time constraints, the Sub-Committee invited the IMO Enhanced Group Call Coordinating Panel to consider technical solutions for dissemination of MSI and SAR-related information over recognised mobile satellite services, including any necessary actions concerning broadcast monitoring requirements, advising NCSR 9, as appropriate.
Status of the Cospas-Sorsat Programme. Document NCSR 8/9/12 provided information on the current status of the Cospas-Sorsat (C-S) Programme in which it:
- Invited Member States to provide direct feedback about the library of video training materials made publicly available through the C-S website for use by SAR professionals;
- Invited support for development of modifications to the message format used to transmit alert messages to RCCs, with a view to seeking clarity;
- Invited Member States to provide proposals for improving reliability in communications between C-S mission control centres (MCCs) and their supported SAR points of contact SPOCS (usually RCCs), both during tests and for transmission of real distress alerts;
- Encouraged Member States to facilitate improved distress-alert communications, to enter into agreements or understandings between SPOCs and their supporting MCCs; and,
- Encouraged Member States to update their information in GISIS, describing the C-S System and listing EPIRB coding regulations, in particular GISIS tab 10 and 11.
Use of rectangular area addressed broadcasts over the Inmarsat C SafetyNET system in the Arctic. After consideration, the IMO Enhanced Group Call Coordinating Panel was invited to consider the matter of setting a date for the cessation of rectangular area addressed broadcasts in the Arctic NAVAREA/METAREAs and to work with the Arctic NAVAREA and METAREA Coordinators in formalising a communication plan to inform mariners and the industry, and to advise NCSR 9 before taking any final decision.
Instructions for the Navigation Working Group. The Sub-Committee instructed the Navigation Working Group to consider the information in document NCSR 8/9/4 concerning modifications to the GMDSS Master Plan module of GISIS and advise how to best progress this matter intersessionally. In addition, to consider document NCSR 8/9/3 on certificates of authorisation to participate in the international enhanced group call (EGC) service, taking into account comments in document 8/9/16.
On receipt of the Group’s report having followed these instructions, the Sub-Committee:
- Requested the Secretariat to prepare guidance for the dissemination of SAR-related information through the international EGC service, in consultation with the IMO Enhanced Group Call Coordinating Panel (EGCCP), recognised mobile satellite service providers and the ICAO/IMO Joint Working Group;
- Invited the EGCCP to consider setting an expiry date for existing SafetyNET certificates, as and when a suitable alternative means of certification for broadcast of SAR-related information is established; and, to consider whether further authorisations should be granted to NAVAREA and/or METAREA Coordinators for the purpose of broadcasting information other than navigational warnings and meteorological warnings and forecast, as appropriate;
- Instructed the ICAO/IMO Joint working Group to review the current guidance in the IAMSAR Manual on dissemination of SAR-related information through the international EGC service, also to prepare appropriate amendments; and,
- Requested the secretariat to undertake further modifications to the GMDSS Master Plan and the Global SAR Plan of GISIS, in consultation with the EGCCP, the ICAO/IMO Joint Working Group and mobile satellite service providers, advising the Sub-Committee as appropriate.
DEVELOPMENT OF GLOBAL MARITIME SAR RERVICES, INCLUDING HARMONISATION OF MARITIME AND AERONAUTICAL PROCEDURES.
General. It was noted that MSC 102 had approved consolidation of outputs Other Work 28 and renamed it “Development of global maritime SAR services, including harmonisation of maritime and aeronautical procedures”. Also, in order to avoid delay due to rescheduling of meetings in 2021, the Secretariat had been authorised to submit draft amendments to the IAMSAR Manual, as finalised by the ICAO/IMO JWG on Harmonisation of Aeronautical and Maritime SAR at the twenty-seventh meeting, directly to MSC 103 for approval, with a view to inclusion in the 2022 edition of the Manual.
Use of multiple recognised mobile satellite services. Recognising varying degrees of national requirements for SAR authorities to disseminate SAR-related information using the Iridium SafetyCast service, encouragement was given to SAR authorities to consider using all recognised mobile satellite services within their area of responsibility to ensure the integrity of the GMDSS.
Electronic information of delimitation of maritime search and rescue regions. The Sub-Committee considered document NCSR 8/10/3 by the United States, providing information on delimitation of maritime SRRs of RCCs in the Global SAR Plan module of GISIS, and proposing the development of a comprehensive electronic document delimiting maritime SRR and RCC contact points for efficient distribution of distress alerts to RCCs by recognised mobile satellite service providers.
Following discussion, these proposals received general support and the Sub-Committee instructed ICAO/IMO JWG 28 to consider any necessary actions to ensure the efficient distribution of distress alerts to RCCs by recognised mobile satellite service providers, taking into account the SAR Convention and other applicable instruments, including the possible development of a comprehensive electronic document delimiting maritime SRR and RCC contact points, advising NCSR 9, as appropriate.
Procedures for routeing distress alerts. Document NCSR 8/10/4 was tabled by France and the USA commenting on the importance of updating information on the delimitation of established SRRs of RCCs in the Global SAR module of GISIS. Noting that the proposal sought to clarify a common procedure based on the existing operational procedure in IAMSAR Manual Volume II, section 3.6, in order to merge the requirements of GMDSS with the international operational SAR procedures, the document was referred for consideration at ICAO/IMO JWG 28 which will be held in September 2021.
BIENNIAL STATUS REPORT AND PROVISIONAL AGENDA FOR NCSR 9.
General. It was noted that MSC 102 has agreed that NCSR will hold an eight-day session at NCSR 9, starting on a Tuesday and concluding on Thursday of the following week, maintaining the four days of full interpretation until decided otherwise.
Biennial status report for the 2020-2021 biennium. The Sub-Committee updated the biennial status report for the 2020-2021 biennium for consideration by MSC 104.
Proposed biennial agenda for the 2022-2023 biennium and provisional agenda for NCSR 9. Taking into account the progress made at this session, the Sub-Committee prepared the proposed biennial agenda for the 2022-2023 biennium and also, a provisional agenda for NCSR 9, for approval by MSC 104.
Date of the next session. Meeting dates for 2022 are expected to be published shortly after Council meeting 125 has concluded in July 2021.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS.
The Sub-Committee discussed matters emanating from the report of the sixteenth meeting of the Joint IMO/ITU Experts Group on Maritime Radiocommunication Matters as indicated in the ensuing paragraphs.
Draft amendments to resolutions MSC.163(78) and MSC.333(90). Draft amendments to the Performance standards for shipborne simplified voyage data recorders (S-VDRs) (resolution MSC.163(78)) and the Performance standards for voyage data recorders (VDRs) (resolution MSC.333(90)) were considered. It was recalled that these were consequential amendments due to the adoption of the Performance standards for float-free Emergency position-indicating radio beacons (EPIRBS) operating on 406 MHz (resolution MSC.471(101)).
Noting that resolution MSC.471(101) is applicable to float-free EPIRBs operating on the frequency 406 MHz installed after 1 July 2022, which form part of the GMDSS, the above draft resolutions were approved, with a view to adoption by MSC 104.
Report on monitoring of ECDIS issues. Information provided in document NCSR 8/13/1 (IHO) reporting on ECDIS issues and NCSR 8/13/3 (Canada) supporting the recommendations by IHO were noted and interested parties were invited to contribute to the work of IHO in the preparations of amendments to the pertinent resolutions.
Conduct of search and rescue operations in the northern and eastern parts of the Black Sea, the sea of Amov and the Kerch Strait. The sub-Committee noted the information provided in document NCSR 8/13/2 by Ukraine drawing attention to the Russian Federation’s unlawful unilateral actions in the areas referred to, including the maritime areas adjacent to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine, temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation, and the consequences of such unlawful actions for search and rescue operations in these maritime areas. The Russian Federation refuted the allegations, however, Portugal, on behalf of the EU, Sweden, the EC and Georgia together with the USA, the UK and Canada, all spoke of sharing the concerns expressed by Ukraine.
Information Documents. The sub-Committee noted the information provided in the following NCSR 8 Information documents:
- 2 (OCIMF) on ECDIS malfunctions and training;
- 3 (IMPA) on improving safety of pilot transfer arrangements giving the results of a Safety Campaign survey;
- 4 (China) on an update of BeiDou Navigation Satellite System;
- 7 (IMSO) on scale of charges to be levied by the LRIT Coordinator during 2021; and
- 10 (China) on considerations to improve the safety of pilot transfer arrangements
Captain Paddy McKnight