IMO Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR 1) held its first Meeting


The 1st session of IMO Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR 1) was held at the headquarters of IMO in London from 30 June to 4 July. A summary of the outcome is given hereunder for your information. At the 28th session of Assembly (A28) in November 2013, IMO agreed on the reformation of the Sub-Committees to facilitate efficient discussion and to reduce the cost. Consequently, the former Sub-Committees on Safety of Navigation (NAV) and Radiocommunications and Search and Rescue (COMSAR) have been rearranged into NCSR. The outcome of NCSR1 will be brought up to the meeting of its parent committee, i.e. Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) and Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), and the final conclusion will be made afterward. Accordingly, please also note that the outcome of this meeting given hereunder is subject to the deliberations at the future IMO meetings.

1. Development of an e-navigation Strategy Implementation Plan

The draft e-navigation Strategy Implementation Plan (SIP) was finalized, containing the tasks to be implemented based on five solutions and seven Risk Control Options (RCOs), related guidelines and the target completion year. The draft SIP will be approved at MSC 94 (November 2014).

The tasks contained in SIP will be considered as concrete methodologies for implementation by each Member State, which is expected to lead to various activities, such as amending SOLAS and developing performance standards for navigation systems.

2. Usability Testing, Evaluation and Assessment for e-navigation systems

It was agreed to consolidate the draft Guidelines on Usability Testing, Evaluation and Assessment (UTEA) for e-navigation systems; the draft Guidelines on Human Centred Design (HCD) for e-navigation systems; and the draft Guidelines on Software Quality Assurance (SQA) in e-navigation, into a single and harmonized guidelines, taking into account the interdependencies and overlapping among them.

A correspondence group was tasked to carry out the consolidation and to report to the next session.

3. Review and modernization of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS

At this session, the review and modernization of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) as well as the course of actions were considered based on the outcome of discussions at a correspondence group and meetings of experts.

The outcome is as follows:

(1) Definition in SOLAS Chapter IV
It was agreed to add the definition of “Security related communications” and “General communication” in SOLAS regulation IV/2. Security related communications would not be included in GMDSS.

(2) Scope of application
It was agreed to basically maintain the current framework, which means that the regulations apply to passenger ships and cargo ships of 300 gross tonnages and upwards engaged in international voyage.

(3) Sea area
It was agreed to basically maintain the current framework.
The consideration of sea area A3 and A4 will be continued taking into account the emergence of mobile satellite communication systems. Further, the improvement of the framework to manage satellite providers will be continuously considered.

(4) Implementation of new technologies and abolition of old technologies
The possible new technologies were picked out as follows:

    (i) Man Overboard Device (a compact equipment to be equipped with a life jacket, which utilizes the technologies of AIS-SART)

    (ii) VHF and HF digital data communication

    (iii) Satellite communication systems in a survival craft

    (iv) New satellite service providers, including iridium mobile-satellite system (a system managed by USA with global coverage)

(5) Target completion year
Considering the increase of work load and the current progress, it was agreed to extend the target completion year for one year to 2018. The consideration of the amendments to SOLAS will be started from this year by a correspondence group.

Author: International Cooperation Dept, VR