RIN Blog
Blog Home All Blogs

Note on a meeting of IMO NCSR: 16 – 25 January 2019

Posted By Kim Fisher, 21 February 2019

by Kim Fisher

The meeting of the sub-committee on Navigation, Communications, Search and Rescue was chaired by Ringo Lakeman of the Netherlands. Due to the extensive workload of this sub-committee, it had been agreed that the meeting would be extended exceptionally to 8 days for this and next year.

Some good progress was achieved.

The Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) system was updated and revised Circulars prepared. Guidelines were completed for the standardization of user interface design for navigation equipment (also known a S-mode) together with a revision of the IMO Circular on navigation-related symbols, terms and abbreviations (SN.1/Circ.243) and the performance standards for the presentation of navigation-related information (Resolution MSC.191).

Considerable work was conducted on the harmonization of the format and structure of maritime services (previously known as maritime service portfolios) following the report of intersessional work in the IMO/IHO Harmonization Group on Data Modelling (HGDM). A guidance resolution was prepared together with a Circular describing 16 maritime services in detail. Work was completed on a Circular giving guidance for navigation and communication equipment for use on ships operating in polar waters.

The previous decision to accept the Iridium satellite system as a recognised service in addition to Inmarsat had led to the need to revise some IMO documents to make them more generic. Revisions were prepared to the SafetyNET manual, Resolution A.705 on the promulgation of maritime safety information, Resolution A.706 on the world-wide navigational warning service, and Resolution A.1051 on the world-wide met-ocean information and warning service. A Circular was prepared on technical requirements for the new Inmarsat Fleet Safety service. The issue of interoperability of the two systems in future was carried over to the next meeting.

Work continued on the revision of Chapter IV (Radiocommunications) of the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and associated documents. This will be continued in a correspondence group led by the USA.

The IMO position was completed for the next International Telecommunication Union (ITU) World Radiocommunication Conference to be held later this year. Various liaison statements were prepared concerning autonomous maritime radio devices (AMRD), protection criteria and Automatic Identification Systems (AIS).

New standards were completed for Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRB) to include the second generation Cospas-Sarsat satellites and a liaison statement sent to ITU.

New traffic separation schemes with precautionary areas were agree for the Sunda Strait and Lombok Strait Indonesia. The voluntary Dover Strait movement reporting system (MAREP) was terminated as it is now little used having been overtaken by the mandatory CALDOVREP.

The next meeting of NCSR is planned for 15 to 24 January 2020. A meeting of the Maritime Safety Committee is planned for 5 to 14 June 2019. A meeting of the Joint IMO/ITU Experts Group is planned for 8 to 12 July 2019. A meeting of the ICAO/IMO Joint Working Group is planned for 9 to 13 September 2019 in Chile.

Tags:  IMO  International Maritime Organization  maritime  navigation  search and rescue 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

An introduction to decision making and flight route selection

Posted By Elena Psyllou, 20 December 2018

by Elena Psyllou


Every day we make thousands decisions; some are unconscious and others need extra effort. For instance, on my way to work, every morning I get on the Bakerloo line, change at Embankment and get off at South Kensington. But when the service suffers from severe delays, that is when I need to change my route and find the shortest and most comfortable journey to my destination.

Decision theory has gathered interest across disciplines from economics to engineering and social science. In aviation, there have been studies into the decision making of pilots. Models were then developed in an attempt to improve the design of the systems that are routinely used whilst promoting awareness across individuals of the complexity of human cognitive activity. Models like FOR-DEC and SAFE (read more here) have been used in pilot’s training and they outline the main steps of the decision making which are seek information, assess the options, make a decision, take the action.

Moving beyond such simplified versions, extensive research has been conducted in order to better understand the rationale behind the decisions and elicit the contribution of key factors such the expertise, the conditions decisions are made and the quality of information.
Research in naturalistic decision making has shown that expertise plays a key role in responding to critical situations where time is limited or information is uncertain and unavailable. Aviation and evacuation of buildings are great examples of such challenging environments in which critical decisions need to be made in a speedy manner and be of an appropriate nature.

In the 90s Gary Klein developed such a naturalistic decision making model, known as the Recognition Primed Decision (RPD) model that describes how experienced individuals make decisions in time-pressured situations where they are not able to generate and assess a range of options. The model was developed based on fire-fighters and pilots. Individuals use their expertise to find a satisfactory decision/action rather than that which is the best. They start this dynamic decision making by assessing the situation based on patterns of cues. This situational awareness activates mental models and action scripts that the individual has available from prior experience. Under such conditions, a successful decision relies on a correct assessment of the current situation, an adequate utilisation of cues, effective evaluation measures and of course, the experience of the individual.

The RPD model shows that the analytical approach of evaluating every possible course of action in order to reach the best course of action is time consuming and in safety critical industries like aviation, delays can be catastrophic. There are various ways that expertise is transformed to be easily retrieved. Research in pilot decision making (such as O'Hare et al. 2009, and Hunter et al. 2009), pilots code their previous experience into rules and cases and they retrieve those during their decision making. Rules are conditions that need to be met, for example, select a route that is straight, direct and above the minimum safe altitude. Cases are representations of events that they have previously experienced, for instance, the weather changes fast along a certain route and a diversion is needed.

Traditionally, pilots use paper charts to select the route and do the calculations for weather adjustments and fuel. Today, apps on our smartphones and tablets tell them the fastest and most direct route and with limited mental effort needed by the pilot. Similarly, route planner apps for urban travel such as CityMapper and Google maps suggest routes based on a series of computations by their algorithms. The apps not only show the flight path but they also present the trip duration and other relevant information. Nevertheless, the user who can be a pilot, a pedestrian, a motorist, remains the person that makes the decision which route to take and at what time.

Research conducted with recreational pilots and the use of route planning apps for air travel in the UK, Norway and Finland at Imperial College revealed four types of uses of these apps:

1. “YES MAN” The pilot accepts the suggested straight direct route and will make modifications in-flight, if needed, i.e. tactic decision making. A previous plan saved on the app might be used.
2. “HOLD ON A MINUTE” The pilot inspects the route and make any adjustments that will make the flight more pleasant, more cost effective and safer using rules and cases pre-flight
3. “ASSIST” The pilot uses the app to seek information, make a few calculations, e.g. regarding the weather, or see previous flight routes that are saved on the app
4. “TRUST ME” The pilot does not use the app and relies on his/her ability to remember and seek support from other sources.

It was further revealed that the pilots use the app differently based on the features of the route. In particular, for routes that are frequently used, pilots do not necessarily study every parameter (YES MAN or ASSIST) whilst routes that are flown for the first time, more time will be spent to review the airspace and weather (HOLD ON A MINUTE). Individual factors also affect the decision making and the use of the apps. In particular, pilots who want to encounter the latest weather update will do further modifications in-flight instead of pre-flight. Such en-route decision can also lead to issues such as loss of situation awareness in that pilots fail to holistically comprehend the situation in such dynamic conditions aviation operations and can lead to loss of situation awareness.

Similarities on how the route is selected using the apps are expected between pilots and any type of commuter. Sometimes we rely on the app especially if we are strangers in the area and other times we select routes we drove before. Next time you use the route planner app, as a pedestrian, a driver or pilot, think of how they contribute to your decision on what direction to follow and identify yourself which of the four types of users you are.

Tags:  Decision Making  Flight Route Selection  GANG  General Aviation  Navigation  Pilot 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Who’s a Hero? Three WW2 Special Operations Part One

Posted By PK Hope-Lang, 07 August 2018

Seaborne Blockade Running

Ball bearing market

Ball bearings were important to the war effort in Germany and Britain. The only quality source was neutral Sweden and the trade embraced ball bearings, roller bearings, production machines and special steel.

Both Britain and Germany had some leverage so it would have been difficult for the Swedish industry to withhold all supplies of ball bearings to either belligerent.

There was a curious anomaly in that the Swedish parent company SKF had ‘branches’ in both countries – the German VKF in Schweinfurt,and the British Skefko in Luton. However, the local manufacture was still dependent on Swedish steel and spares for the production machines.


George Binney, flotilla leader. Photo credit Barker.

A central figure in the blockade running was George Binney who graduated from Merton College in 1922; he joined the Hudson Bay Company and then United Steel. At the outbreak of war, he was posted to the legation in Stockholm and tasked with maximising Britain’s trade in steel and frustrating that of the Germans.

In 1941 Binney masterminded Operation Rubble which was the breakout of five Norwegian merchant ships interned in Sweden and loaded with 25,000 tons of steel supplies. However, two ships loaded with steel remained marooned in Lysekil Fjord on the west coast of Sweden. Binney proposed using converted Motor Gun Boats (MGB) to bring this cargo home because they would be faster and more difficult to intercept than merchant ships.

Sweden’s neutral role was complex. In WW1 Sweden had been largely pro German but when WW2 started probably 90% sympathised with Britain. One exception was the Swedish Board of Admirals which favoured Germany – this view was inherited from the belief that Sweden’s safety required a strong Germany to counter balance the hereditary enemy Russia.


Above: MGB 502 with slim line superstructure; photo credit IWM. Below: Gay Viking with deck mounted superstructure; photo credit ships.nostalgia.
The gunboat to freighter conversion was achieved thanks to the Turkish Navy. Eight Camper & Nicholson 117ft MGBs under were being constructed for Turkey but were commandeered by the Royal Navy at the outbreak of war. Five were converted to freighters by turning the accommodation below into forward and aft holds. A lightweight deckhouse with open bridge was constructed on the deck. The boats had three diesel engines and would cruise at 20 knots with a cargo capacity of 40 tons. The boats were armed with Oerlikons fore and aft, twin Vickers .303in machine guns on either side of the bridge and a quadruple Vickers abaft the bridge.

The entire operation had to be a merchant navy affair. The natural source for recruiting crews was the Ellerman Shipping Company because their Wilson Line was based at Hull and familiar with North Sea conditions.

Each boat was commanded by a First Mate holding a Master’s ticket and each carried a ‘Chief Officer’ who was an SOE liaison officer. Crew volunteers were sought for “a service entailing special risks”. Most of those selected came from Hull and many were not more than twenty years old. They were picked for their adaptability as much as their professional skill; the deckhouse would be very cramped for 20 men so best suited to the young and fit.
The opposition was daunting. Outside Swedish waters the boats would run the gauntlet of standing patrols in the Skagerrak, radar stations on both sides of the gap, minefields, destroyers based in Denmark and Norway and hostile command of the air to mid North Sea. There would also be large fishing fleets to avoid. In Sweden the boats would be watched by German agents and diplomats.

Against this the freighters would be wood which gave a low radar return, shallow draft which allowed them to cross some mine fields and fast. The boats planned to pass through the Skagerrak both ways at night but these conditions would only be met during the longer winter nights.


Track between Hull and Lysekil.

The boats were ready in autumn 1943; the aim was to bring back 400 tons of steel over the winter. Binney planned to lead his flotilla as a convoy of 5 boats but from the beginning the boats suffered from engine and gearbox failures. On 23 Dec Binney could only muster 2 boats. Hopewell and Gay Viking, commanded by George Binney and Harry Whitfield. They sailed into a NW 4-5 and crossed the North Sea at 15kt. Then on Hopewell the central engine broke down, the starboard engine became temporarily out of action with air locks in the fuel line and soon after that the steering gear failed.

The wind was now F6 from NW and discouraged a return. However with the starboard engine working again and the steering repaired Hopewell declared she could manage 15k on the two wing engines. Gay Viking tucked in behind Hopewell and they carried on through the Skagerrak, staying 25 miles off the Danish coast.

Opposite Kristiansand they took evasive action for two substantial unlit echoes off the starboard bow. Later they learnt that these had been a destroyer accompanied by a torpedo boat and a minelayer. Later they avoided two more unlit radar echoes, They entered Swedish waters at 05.30 and berthed at Lysekil 07.39 despite Hopewell having trouble with its starboard gearbox.

When the boats tied up they were to find themselves harassed by the Swedish navy. A Swedish naval control party boarded to seal all guns, ammunition, radio and radar equipment while in port. 2hr later a Swedish naval officer returned to Hopewell with instructions to remove the radar display tube. The officer took this to a corvette also lying alongside the pier. Binney demanded the return and protested to the local magistrate, 40min later the tube was returned. 2hr later a more senior Swedish officer demanded the radar tubes from both boats but Binney refused.

The mayor asked to see round Hopewell –during his visit he said he regretted the naval incident and told Binney that the British boats had the goodwill of the authorities and of the local inhabitants.

When Gay Viking needed authorisation to move berth the same Swedish naval officer asked, and was granted, permission to come aboard for the move and to bring two Post Office engineers to agree the location of the seals. One engineer was later identified not as a Post Office engineer but as the head of SATT which was a German controlled subsidiary of the German electrical firm AEG.

At 1730 on 16 Jan Gay Viking sailed, leaving Hopewell waiting for spares. It is now known that the Germans had already moved three more destroyers to Kristiansand to be kept at 2hr notice to sail. Two days later at 0745 Gay Viking passed through the Humber boom.

By PK Hope-Lang


Acknowledgements for this three-part series:
Ralph Barker, 1976. ‘The Blockade Busters’. Chatto & Windus, London.
Norman Malayney, who had served in Vietnam with the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing, had a great interest in the BOAC Mosquitos and had interviewed all the crew that he could find.
Alan S Milward, “Could Sweden have stopped the Second World War?,” The Scandinavian Economic History Review, vol. XV, 1967, 127‐138.
Ernest Schofield and Roy Conyers Nesbitt, 1987. ‘Arctic Airmen’. History Press, Stroud.
Jeff White of The Old Tautonians Association

Tags:  Blockade  Britain.  Freighters  Navigation  Passage  Seaborne  ww2 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

The Flypast at Royal Institute of Navigation AGM and Annual Meeting

Posted By John Pottle, 12 July 2018

The RAF could not have timed it better - the conclusion of the pre-lunch drinks coincided perfectly with the RAF 100 anniversary fly-past. The more organised guests took up positions on the roof next to the RIN Director's office, many more gathered in the gardens of the Royal Geographical Society. No sooner had the Red Arrows completed the fly-past, we all repaired for lunch before the start of the AGM.

The AGM business included election of new President, Vice Presidents and Trustees. The new Council will meet for the first time on 25 July. We were also delighted to receive good wishes from our Patron, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. Everyone wishes him well.

The Annual Meeting which followed underlines the breadth of the Institute's work - Dr David Rooney of the Science Museum presented an engaging analysis of The Traffic Problem, Glen Gibbons of Inside GNSS presented a tremendously informative and insightful review of the Unfinished Business of Satellite Navigation. We heard about inspirational STEM projects in USA and UK as well as awards and prizes for our general aviation (GA) flying competition Top Nav; the best paper in our Journal of Navigation; and the Duke of Edinburgh's Navigation Award for Technical Achievement, which this year was awarded to Chronos Technology.

We were delighted to welcome Shaesta Waiz of Dreams Soar who presented the awards and prizes. Full details of may be found at: https://rin.org.uk/news/408631/RIN-AGM-and-Annual-Meeting---Prize-Winners-and-Election-Results.htm

The day was rounded off by an Annual Reception where old friends could catch up and new contacts were made.

Overall a most enjoyable day. If you’ve not been to our Annual Meeting before we hope you’ll give it a try in 2019! Everyone is welcome.

Tags:  Education  GNSS  Land Navigation  Navigation  Navigation On Foot  Resilience 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Securing Positioning, Navigation & Timing: 14 June 2018 Event Report

Posted By John Pottle, 21 June 2018

The recently published Blackett report “Satellite-Derived Time and Position: A Study of Critical Dependencies” concludes “we must take steps to increase the resilience of our critical services in the event of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) disruption, including by “adopting potential back-up systems where necessary”.

Implementation of the Blackett recommendations is being overseen by a UK Cabinet Office Blackett Review Implementation Team (BRIG). The technical aspects of implementing the recommendations are being led by a Positioning, Navigation and Timing Technical Group (PNTTG), reporting to the BRIG.

Three organisations represented on PNTTG – Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), Royal Institute of Navigation (RIN) and The General Lighthouse Authorities – hosted a seminar on 14 June 2018 to review user needs and the status of two possible RF back-up options to GNSS mentioned in the London Economics report on the economic impact of a GNSS disruption.

The event attracted strong interest, with more than 100 delegates, including representation from user communities requiring assured and accurate position or time. Presenter organisations included UK Space Agency, RIN, Spirent, Imperial College Institute for Security Science and Technology, Ursanav and Orolia. Nick Lambert of NLA International facilitated and chaired the event.

The status of two possible RF back-up systems was presented and discussed: enhanced Loran (eLoran) by Chuck Schue, CEO Ursanav, and Satellite Time and Location (STL) by John Fischer, CTO Orolia. Orolia also demonstrated a static STL system as a back-up to GNSS, generating considerable interest amongst delegates.

STL, which is operational and undergoing user trials and evaluation at present, uses the existing Iridium global satellite constellation’s paging channel to enable a positioning and timing capability on a global basis. Power levels are 1000x (30dB) higher than GNSS, meaning that use indoors becomes possible. STL is currently being evaluated for provision of precise time to financial and government institutions in USA, UK, Italy and Japan. The system uses a narrow-band signal just above the GNSS L-band frequencies. As the signals are encrypted it is practically impossible to spoof STL. The higher power level also offers potential resiliency advantages to GNSS.

eLoran is a ground-based system for time and position, operating in internationally protected frequency bands. The combination of high power and low frequency enables wider coverage than GNSS including indoors and even limited capability under water. eLoran stations are operational to enable precise time in USA (East Coast) and UK. Positioning from eLoran would require additional stations to be made live, noting however that each ground station offers very broad geographic coverage. As well as the USA and UK, other regions offering or considering eLoran type services include Russia, Asia (4 countries including China), Middle East (3 countries) and Australia.

As well as the possibility to consider back-up systems to GNSS on a discrete basis, Orolia and STL shared a white paper on the benefits of an holistic approach to resilient GNSS. The link is provided below.

The seminar concluded by considering some key questions, including how to set up a single UK point of contact for industry and users to increase awareness, share insights and knowledge, and develop a roadmap towards standards and accreditation for resilient systems. This work is being further considered by the organisers, who will report to the next BRIG and PNTTG meetings. Comments and views are invited, please contact RIN or KTN.


Links to referenced documents:




Tags:  GNSS  Navigation  Resilience  Safety  Trinity House 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
Page 1 of 2
1  |  2