by Kim Fisher
The meeting of the sub-committee on Navigation, Communications, Search and Rescue was chaired by Ringo Lakeman of the Netherlands. This meeting competed his 5 year term as chairman but under exceptional arrangements it was agreed to extend his term for a further year in order to provide continuity for the proposed revision of SOLAS/IV. The meeting was also the second of the exceptional 8 day meetings agreed due to the extensive workload of this sub-committee, but it was further agreed to allow an 8 day meeting again next year.
The next meeting will need to complete the revision of Chapter IV (Radiocommunications) of the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and associated documents if the intended entering into force of 2024 is to be achieved. This work had been ongoing since 2009. Considerable progress was achieved and it seems hopeful that completed texts will be ready for next year. The new SOLAS facilitates the use of the Iridium satellite system as an alternative to Inmarsat but issues of interoperability between the systems and monitoring of and charging for Maritime Safety Information (MSI) broadcasts require more work.
Revised guidelines for the shore-based maintenance and annual testing of satellite emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs) were agreed and also a revised version of the SafetyNET manual. It was announced that Peter Doherty who has chaired the international SafetyNET coordinating panel for the past 17 years was standing down.
The developing ICAO work for a Global aeronautical distress and safety system (GADDS) led to a new circular on interim guidance for search and rescue services regarding implementation of autonomous distress tracking of aircraft in flight. pending revision of the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual.
The Indian regional navigation satellite system (IRNSS) was agreed to be recognised as part of the worldwide radionavigation system and performance standards were agreed for the Japanese regional satellite system (QZSS). A proposal for generic performance standards for satellite navigation systems was carried forward to the next meeting.
Revised guidelines for vessel traffic services (VTS) were agreed to bring them up to date. Work on guidelines for maritime services descriptions remains ongoing.
Safety measures for non-SOLAS ships operating in Polar waters was discussed and will be progressed further in a correspondence group to be coordinated by New Zealand. Revisions of guidelines on places of refuge for ships will be progressed further in a correspondence group to be coordinated by the UK.
A detail anomaly in the revised IMO Circular on navigation-related symbols, terms and abbreviations (SN.1/Circ.243) agreed at the last meeting led to a corrigendum removing the symbol for MSI.
Proposals to modify ECDIS requirements to accept new S-100 charts will be discussed again at the next meeting.
Amendments were agreed to the traffic separation schemes in Norway, Slupska Bank Poland and Off Ushant France together with amendments to the two way route in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait Australia.
The next meeting of NCSR is planned for 10 to 19 February 2021. A meeting of the Maritime Safety Committee is planned for 13 to 22 May 2020. A meeting of the Joint IMO/ITU Experts Group is planned for 6 to 10 July 2020. A meeting of the ICAO/IMO Joint Working Group is planned for 12 to 16 October 2020 in London.