GMDSS, e‑navigation and Polar operations on agenda at NCSR 6

Paul Gunton

Paul Gunton · 17 January 2019


Progress is expected to be made in a number of key areas for ship operators as the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue opened its latest meeting yesterday. NCSR 6, will run from 16-25 January with at least five areas of specific interest topping the agenda.

As part of the IMO Polar Code, draft guidance for navigation and communication equipment intended for use on ships operating in polar waters is expected to be finalised. The guidance will include recommendations on temperature and mechanical shock testing, and on how to address ice accretion and battery performance in cold temperatures.

Imo Gmdss

The Sub-Committee will also consider the report of the 14th meeting of the Joint IMO/ITU Experts Group on maritime radiocommunication matters. The meeting will finalise the draft IMO position on maritime radiocommunication matters for submission to the World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19), to be held in November. The availability of interference-free parts of radio spectrum, dedicated for maritime radiocommunication and radionavigation purposes, is essential to ensure the safety and security of shipping.

Another item is the ongoing work to modernise GMDSS. The mandatory GMDSS was adopted more than 30 years ago in 1988 to ensure full integration of maritime radio and satellite communications so that distress alerts can be generated from anywhere on the world’s oceans. The modernisation plan aims to update the provisions, including allowing for the incorporation of new satellite communication services. The latter is particularly topical following Iridium’s announcement that its new constellation is now live.

On e-navigation matters, the meeting will focus on harmonisation and standardisation which is key for the effective implementation of the e-navigation strategy. The Sub-Committee will further develop the description of various maritime services coordinated by different organisations with the view to enhance harmonisation; and draft guidelines on standardised modes of operation, or S-mode, which will improve standardisation of the user interface and information used by seafarers.

On search and rescue matters, the Sub-Committee will consider recommendations from the latest regular International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)/IMO Joint Working Group. IMO works closely with ICAO on the harmonisation of aeronautical and maritime search and rescue. The meeting is expected to validate a revised model course on SAR Mission Coordinator.

Amongst other regular agenda items, the Sub-Committee will review proposed new and amended ships' routeing measures, consider updates to Maritime Safety Information (MSI) related provisions and will discuss matters relating to the functioning and operation of the Long-Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT).

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