Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
The IMO Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR), 7th session, was held at IMO HQ, London, from 15 to 24 January 2020.
IHMA was represented by the Secretary and Commodore Barry Goldman, IHMA Representative at IALA.
Through the good offices of the IMO Media service we are able to provide below a summary of the business of NCSR 7.
This Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR) deals with all matters related to navigation and communication, including the analysis and approval of ships routeing measures and ship reporting systems; carriage requirements and performance standards for navigational and communication equipment; the long-range identification and tracking (LRIT) system and the development of e-navigation.
It also deals with search and rescue matters and the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), including recognition of service providers.
Joint working groups reporting to the NCSR Sub-Committee include the ICAO/IMO Joint Working Group on Harmonization of Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue and the Joint IMO/ITU Experts Group on Maritime Radiocommunication Matters.
The session approved the following ships’ routeing measures and referred them to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) for adoption:
The proposed routeing measures will be forwarded to IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) 102nd session in May for adoption and are expected to be implemented six months thereafter.
Recognition of Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System
The Sub-Committee recommended the recognition of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), as a component of the world-wide radio navigation system (WWRNS) and prepared a circular for approval by the MSC.
Performance standards for shipborne QZSS receiver equipment approved
The Sub-Committee approved a draft MSC resolution on Performance standards for shipborne Japanese Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) receiver equipment, for adoption by the MSC.
The Sub-Committee invited Japan to provide further information and detailed data on the system to a future session, with a view to considering its potential recognition as a future component of the WWRNS.
IMO has an important role in accepting and recognizing navigation systems which can be used by international shipping. IMO currently recognizes the Global Positioning System (GPS), Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) and Galileo Global Navigation Satellite System; and the most recent, the IRNSS mentioned above, is currently awaiting final approval. SOLAS chapter V requires all ships to carry a global navigation satellite system or terrestrial radio navigation receiver, or other means, to establish and update the ship's position by automatic means, for use at all times throughout the voyage.
Revised Guidelines for Vessel Traffic Services agreed
The Sub-Committee finalized the revision of the Guidelines for Vessel Traffic Services to update the version adopted in 1997 (resolution A.857(20)) and referred it to the MSC for approval and subsequent adoption by the IMO Assembly.
Modernizing the global maritime distress and safety system
Search and rescue (SAR) at sea depends on the integrated satellite and terrestrial radiocommunication system known as the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS). The GMDSS is mandatory under the regulations in chapter IV of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974.
The Sub-Committee continued its ongoing work to review the GMDSS requirements, with the aim of enabling the use of modern communication systems in the GMDSS, while removing requirements to carry obsolete systems. Substantial progress was made in revising the relevant regulations in SOLAS chapters III and IV and preparing consequential amendments to other instruments.
The Sub-Committee endorsed an updated work plan, including categorization and prioritization for the review of other instruments related to the amendments to SOLAS chapters III and IV.
The aim is to finalize the work in 2021, for submission to the MSC, so that the amendments can be adopted in time for entry into force in 2024.
Revised SafetyNET Services Manual approved
The Sub-Committee approved a draft revision of the International SafetyNET Manual, to reflect, among other things, updates to related GMDSS services provided by Inmarsat.
SafetyNET is an integral part of the GMDSS, providing an international automatic direct-printing satellite-based service for the promulgation of maritime safety information (MSI), navigational and meteorological warnings, meteorological forecasts, SAR related information and other urgent safety-related messages to ships.
A draft MSC circular on the IMO Enhanced Group Call (EGC) Coordinating Panel was also approved, for submission to the MSC for approval. The IMO EGC Coordinating Panel, in cooperation with the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the International Mobile Satellite Organization (IMSO), coordinates the international broadcast of MSI and SAR-related information, using recognized mobile satellite services.
Guidance for SAR services regarding aircraft autonomous distress tracking approved
The Sub-Committee approved interim guidance for SAR services regarding implementation of autonomous distress tracking of aircraft in flight, for dissemination as a COMSAR circular. The guidance material is intended to provide basic information on Autonomous Distress Tracking (ADT), which goes into effect 1 January 2021 as part of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS). ADT is to provide notification and location of an aircraft in potential distress.
IMO and ICAO hold an annual joint working group meeting on SAR matters. The International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual is published jointly by IMO and ICAO and was also considered at this session.
Polar Code application to non-SOLAS ships – correspondence group established
IMO’s Polar Code helps ensure the safety of ships operating in the harsh Arctic and Antarctic areas, taking into account extremes of temperature, and that critical equipment remains operational under those conditions.
The 31st IMO Assembly in 2019 adopted a resolution urging Member States to implement, on a voluntary basis, the safety measures of the Polar Code, as far as practicable, on non-SOLAS ships operating in the Arctic and Antarctic, including fishing vessels of 24 metres in length and above and pleasure yachts of 300 gross tonnage and above not engaged in trade.
While the Polar Code is mandatory under SOLAS, this generally excludes fishing vessels, pleasure yachts, smaller cargo ships under 500 gross tons and vessels on domestic voyages. Consideration is now being given to the possible application of chapters 9 (Safety of navigation) and 11 (Voyage planning) of the Polar Code to non-SOLAS ships and how best to enhance the safety of these ships when operating in polar waters.
A correspondence group was established to continue this work inter-sessionally and report back to NCSR 8 in 2021.
Revision of guidelines on places of refuge
The Sub-Committee considered a proposed revision to the Guidelines on places of refuge for ships in need of assistance, which were adopted in 2003 (resolution A.949(23)) to provide guidance when a ship is in need of assistance but safety of life is not involved (when safety of life is involved, SAR provisions should be followed).
One of Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani’s last duties before leaving office on 13 February was to make a written statement on Light Dues, the means of financing the marine aids to navigation services of the United Kingdom.
In the document she said: ‘A strong and growing maritime industry is vital to the economy of the United Kingdom and it is critical that we treasure and protect this vital artery if we are to remain a world-leading maritime centre.
‘The work of the General Lighthouse Authorities2, which provide and maintain marine aids to navigation and respond to new wrecks and navigation dangers in some of the busiest waters in the world, is crucial to underpinning that vision whilst maintaining our vigorous safety record and continuously improving standards of safety.
‘Reductions in the three General Lighthouse Authorities’ running costs have enabled the UK to reduce light dues on four occasions since 2014. For 2020 to 2021 I intend to freeze light dues rates at 37½ pence per net registered tonne. This will mean that light dues will have fallen by 30% in real terms since 2010.
‘Light dues rates will continue to be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that the General Lighthouse Authorities are challenged to provide an effective and efficient service which offers value for money to light dues payers.’
New hubs of business and enterprise will be opened across the UK creating thousands of jobs, regenerating communities and turbocharging Britain’s post-Brexit growth, the Government announced on 10 February.
Up to ten new innovative Freeports will be opened across the UK as the Government seeks to level up the country and seize on the opportunities leaving the EU has presented. This was the style of a news item delivered on behalf of HM Treasury.
A consultation has been launched setting out the Government’s vision for Freeports, with the aim of announcing the location of the new zones at the end of this year so they can be open for business in 2021.
It is understood that once the ten-week consultation is completed, the Government will invite sea, air and rail ports to bid for Freeport status on a competitive basis.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Rishi Sunak, said: ‘Freeports will unleash the potential in our proud historic ports, boosting and regenerating communities across the UK as we level up. They will attract new businesses, spreading jobs, investment and opportunity to towns and cities up and down the country.
‘This is all part of our mission as an open, outward-looking country, championing global free trade with vibrant Freeports that work for all of the UK.’