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Sub-Committee on Radiocommunications and Search and Rescue (COMSAR) – 15th session, 7-11 March 2011

March 11, 2011

IMO/WMO Worldwide Met-ocean Information and Warning Service guidance agreed
A draft Assembly resolution on the Worldwide Met-Ocean Information and Warning Service was agreed by the Sub-Committee on Radiocommunications and Search and Rescue (COMSAR), when it met for its15th session, for approval by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 89) with a view to adoption by the IMO Assembly at its 27th session in November.
 
The draft resolution includes the IMO/World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Worldwide Met-Ocean Information and Warning Service Guidance document (WWMIWS), which has been developed to complement the existing IMO/International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) Worldwide Navigational Warning Services Guidance document (WWNWS), (IMO resolution A.706(17), as amended), by providing specific guidance for the promulgation of internationally co-ordinated meteorological information, forecast and warnings services (this does not apply to purely national services).
 
This will ensure consistency with other components of maritime safety information and meet the requirements of SOLAS regulation V/5.4, which requires that “forecasts, warnings, synoptic and other meteorological data intended for ships shall be issued and disseminated by the national meteorological service in the best position to serve various coastal and high seas areas, in accordance with mutual arrangements made by Contracting Governments, in particular as defined by the World Meteorological Organization’s System for the Preparation and Dissemination of Meteorological Forecasts and Warnings for the High Seas under the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS)”.
 
The limits of the 21 designated METAREAS for co-ordinating and promulgating meteorological warnings and forecasts for shipping are included in the document. Each METAREA has a designated Issuing service.
 
Basic Safety Guidance for yacht races
A draft MSC circular on Basic Safety Guidance for yacht races or Oceanic voyages by non-regulated crafts was agreed for submission to MSC 90, for approval.
 
Revised NAVTEX manual agreed
The draft revised and updated edition of the NAVTEX Manual was agreed for submission to MSC 89, for approval.
The revised NAVTEX manual represents the completion of four years of work to revise all review all World-Wide Navigational Warning Service (WWNWS) documentation, carried out by IMO in close co operation with the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Revisions to IMO resolutions A.705(17) Promulgation of Maritime Safety Information and A.706(17) World-Wide Navigational Warning Service were circulated in 2008 (as MSC.1/Circ.1287 and MSC.1/Circ.1288), the revised Joint IMO/IHO/WMO Manual on Maritime Safety Information was circulated in 2009 and the revised International SafetyNET Manual was circulated in 2010. 
 
IAMSAR amendments agreed
Draft amendments to the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual were agreed for submission to MSC 90, for approval and consequential inclusion in the 2013 edition of the IAMSAR Manual.
 
The draft amendments include revised paragraphs relating to common language (English serves as the default SAR operational language in all cross-boundary operations where there is no other common language) and references to 406 MHz Distress Beacons.
 
Review of GMDSS progressed
The Sub-Committee continued work on the scoping exercise to establish the need for a review of the elements and procedures of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), with the aim of determining which elements of the system may need to be updated or amended. The GMDSS was introduced by means of amendments to SOLAS that were adopted in 1988 and entered into force in 1992 with a phase–in period lasting until 1999.
 
A correspondence group was established to complete the development of a Work Plan, as an outcome of the scoping exercise and consider the incorporation of additional satellites systems into the GMDSS and how it might be achieved. The Correspondence group would submit an interim report on the draft Work Plan to the Joint IMO/International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Experts Group (meeting in September 2011) and also take into account any input from MSC 89.
 
A final report would be submitted to COMSAR 16, with the aim being that MSC 90 could be invited to approve a Review and Modernization Project.

IMO position on WRC-12 agreed
The draft IMO position on matters relating to maritime services on the agenda for ITU’s next World Radiocommunications Conference, scheduled to be held in 2012, was endorsed, for approval by MSC 89 and consequential submission to ITU.
 
A liaison statement to the ITU-R Working Party 5B, on near real-time exchange of maritime domain information was also approved for endorsement by MSC 90.
 
Satellite services (Inmarsat and Cospas-Sarsat)
IMSO provided information and recommendations in relation to arrangements for the use of distress priority communications in the shore-to-ship direction and further guidance was incorporated in the existing COMSAR circular on this matter.

EPIRB circulars agreed
A draft MSC circular on Draft revised Guidelines on annual testing of 406 MHz satellite EPIRBs was agreed for submission to MSC 90, for approval.
 
Measures to protect the safety of persons rescued at sea
The Sub-Committee noted the progress made in the work on the development of a draft regional arrangement and encouraged the parties concerned to meet again as early as possible to take stock and review the situation.
 
E-navigation strategy implementation plan progressed
The Sub-Committee made good progress in further developing the relevant parts of the e-navigation strategy implementation plan and agreed that  radiocommunication needs, as well as ITU related matters with regard to the use of the radio spectrum, related to  e-navigation, remained the sole responsibility of the COMSAR Sub Committee. It was further agreed that IHO's S-100 data model should be used as a baseline for creating a framework for data access and information services under the scope of SOLAS.  It was also agreed that IMO, in consultation with other organizations, should consider the establishment of a Harmonization Group on creating a framework for data access and information services under the scope of SOLAS, and draft Terms of Reference for such a Group were developed.
 
It was agreed that SOLAS regulation IV/15.8 was of direct relevance to the e-navigation concept. 
 
E-navigation is the harmonized collection, integration, exchange, presentation and analysis of marine information on board and ashore by electronic means to enhance berth to berth navigation and related services for safety and security at sea and protection of the marine environment.