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Documents of relevance to SAR


This page provides maritime or joint rescue coordination centres (MRCC or JRCC), solely for their operational purposes, with a minimum list of documents which are essential for such centres to have in their possession or to have rapid and reliable access to a digital version. The list only covers search and rescue and no other tasks which RCCs may require to perform.

  1.  IMO publications

  2.  IMO documents

  3.  Non-IMO documents

1. IMO publications

All following publications are available for purchase at:


IF-110 A/C/E/F/R/S2014International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) (Consolidated Edition, 2014)

IB-955 E/S

EB-955 A/C/F/R

2006SAR Convention (2006 edition)

II-960 E

KI-960 F/S


International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual
Volume I (2016 edition) – Organization and Management

IF-961 E/F/S2016

International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual
Volume II (2016 edition) – Mission Coordination

II-962 E

KI-962 F/S


International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual
Volume III (2016 edition) – Mobile Facilities

IG-970 E2015GMDSS Manual (2015 edition)
I-969 E1992GMDSS Operating Guidance Card (1992 edition)
IA-987 E/F/S2005IMO Standard Marine Communication Phrases (SMCP) – (including CD-ROM: pronunciation guide) (2005 edition)
IB-908 E/F/S 2011

*International SafetyNET Manual (2011 edition)

See also MSC.1/Circ. 1364/Rev.1 below

ID-951 E/F/S2012

**NAVTEX Manual (2012 edition)

See also MSC.1/Circ. 1403/Rev.1 below

IB-910 E/F/S2015Joint IMO/IHO/WMO Manual on Maritime Safety Information (MSI Manual) (2015 edition)
IA-994 E/F/S2005International Code of Signals (2005 edition)
IK-200 E/F/S2016International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code) (2016 edition)
(incorporating amendment 38-16)
II-210 E/F/S2014IMDG Code Supplement (2014 edition)


2. IMO documents

Note: Other Assembly resolutions and MSC Circulars are also available for free at:

Other Circulars are also available for free from IMODOCS:


Res. A.705(17), as amended.
Annex replaced by


Promulgation of Maritime Safety Information (MSI)

Res. A.706(17), as amended.
Annexes replaced by


World-Wide Navigational Warning Service
Res. A.814(19)23/11/95Guidelines for the Avoidance of False Distress Alerts
Res. A.855(20)27/11/97Standards for onboard helicopter facilities
Res. A.856(20)27/11/97Guidance to Administrations on development of a shore‑based SAR telecommunication infrastructure
Res. A.887(21)25/11/99Establishment, updating and retrieval of the information contained in the registration databases for the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS)
Res. A.919(22)29/11/01Acceptance and implementation of the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, 1979, as amended
Res. A.920(22)29/11/01Review of safety measures and procedures for the treatment of persons rescued at sea
Res. A.949(23)05/12/03Guidelines on places of refuge for ships in need of assistance
Res. A.950(23)05/12/03Maritime Assistance Services (MAS)
Res. A.954(23)05/12/03Proper use of VHF channels at sea
Res. A.999(25)29/11/07Guidelines on voyage planning for passenger ships operating in remote areas
Res. A.1044(27)30/11/11Piracy and armed robbery against ships in waters off the coast of Somalia
Res. A.1051(27)30/11/11IMO/WMO Worldwide Met-Ocean Information and warning Service – Guidance Document
Res. MSC.131(75)21/05/02Maintenance of a continuous listening watch on VHF channel 16 by SOLAS ships whilst at sea after 1 February 1999 and installation of VHF DSC facilities on non-SOLAS ships
Res. MSC.167(78)20/05/04

Guidelines on the treatment of persons rescued at sea

(Also see IMO/UNHCR/ICS leaflet)

IMO/UNHCR/ICS leaflet2015Rescue at Sea – A guide to principles and practice as applied to refugees and migrants
Res. MSC.199(80)16/05/05Adoption of amendments to provision of radio services for the Global Maritime Distress and Safety system (GMDSS) – (resolution A.801(19))
Res. MSC.305(87)17/05/10Guidelines on Operational Procedures for the promulgation of Maritime Safety Information concerning acts of Piracy and Piracy counter-measure operations
COMSAR/Circ.319/04/96Relations between NAVAREA Coordinators and Rescue Coordination Centres
COMSAR/Circ.2220/06/00Guidance on data fields for SAR databases
COMSAR/Circ.2320/06/00Guidance for central alerting posts (CAPs)
COMSAR/Circ.2515/03/01Procedure for responding to DSC distress alerts by ships
COMSAR/Circ.2927/05/02Guidance for the voluntary use of the standardized questionnaires and formats for reporting false alerts in collecting data on false alerts
COMSAR/Circ.3106/02/03Guidance for Mass Rescue Operations (MROs)
COMSAR/Circ.3521/05/04Recommendations on medium frequency/high frequency (MF/HF) digital selective calling (DSC) test calls to coast stations
COMSAR/Circ.3728/02/05Guidance on minimum communication needs of Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCCs)
COMSAR.1/Circ.4116/10/07Analysis of Maritime Safety Information Promulgated via the EGC SafetyNET system and recommendations on improving its quality
COMSAR.1/Circ.4504/02/09Guidance on distress alerts
COMSAR.1/Circ.50/Rev.313/01/12*Distress priority communications for RCC from shore to ship via Inmarsat
COMSAR.1/Circ.5809/06/17Lists of NAVAREA and METAREA Coordinators
COMSAR.1/Circ.53/Rev.222/07/13List of Land Earth Station (LES) Operation Coordinators in the Inmarsat System
COMSAR.1/Circ.5530/11/12Guidance for entering and updating information on search and rescue services into GISIS and on how to get access  to the information for operational use
COMSAR.1/Circ.5630/11/12Guidance on smartphone and other computer device SAR applications
MSC/Circ.80506/06/97Guidance for the use of radio signals by ships under attack or threat of attack from pirates or armed robbers
MSC/Circ.89504/02/99Recommendation on helicopter landing areas on ro-ro passenger ships
MSC/Circ.896/Rev.226/05/16Interim measures for combating unsafe practices associated with the trafficking or transport of migrants by sea
MSC/Circ.96020/06/00Medical assistance at sea
MSC/Circ.104228/05/02List of contents of the "Emergency Medical Kit/Bag" and medical consideration for its use on ro-ro passenger ships not normally carrying a medical doctor
MSC/Circ.104331/05/02Guidance on ships' daily reporting of their positions to their companies
MSC/Circ.107310/06/03Measures to enhance maritime security – Directives for maritime rescue coordination centres (MRCCs) on acts of violence against ships
MSC/Circ.107806/06/03Guidelines to Administrations on reporting false alerts
MSC/Circ.107910/07/03Guidelines for preparing plans for cooperation between search and rescue services and passenger ships (in accordance with SOLAS regulation V/7.3)
MSC/Circ.110525/02/04Guidance on responsibility and liability issues related to the use of the emergency medical kit/bag and evaluation of its use in emergency incidents
MSC/Circ.117223/05/05Identification of passenger ships, other than ro-ro passenger ships, which should benefit from being equipped with the Emergency Medical Kit/Bag (EMK)
MSC.1/Circ.1182/Rev.121/11/14Guide to recovery techniques
MSC.1/Circ.118331/05/06Guidelines on the provision of external support as an aid to incident containment for SAR Authorities and others concerned
MSC.1/Circ.118431/05/06Enhanced contingency planning guidance for passenger ships operating in areas remote from SAR facilities
MSC.1/Circ.1185/Rev.123/05/12Guide for cold water survival
MSC.1/Circ.118601/06/06Guidelines on the training of SAR service personnel working in major incidents
MSC.1/Circ.120822/05/06Promoting and verifying continued familiarization of GMDSS operators on board ships
MSC.1/Circ.1210/Rev.121/11/14Cospas-Sarsat International 406 MHz Beacon Registration Database
MSC.1/Circ.121815/12/06Guidance on exchange of medical information between telemedical assistance services (TMAS) involved in international SAR operations
MSC.1/Circ.124816/10/07Minimizing delays in search and rescue response to distress alerts
MSC.1/Circ.1287/Rev.124/06/13Amendments to resolution A.705(17) – Promulgation of Maritime Safety Information
MSC.1/Circ.1288/Rev.124/06/13Amendments to resolution A.706(17) – World‑Wide Navigational Warning Service
MSC.1/Circ.1333/Rev.126/06/09Recommendations to Governments for preventing and suppressing piracy and armed robbery against ships
MSC.1/Circ.133423/06/09Guidance to shipowners and ship operators, shipmasters and crews on preventing and suppressing acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships
MSC.1/Circ.1338/Rev.112/06/15Guidance to search and rescue services in relation to requesting and receiving LRIT information
MSC.1/Circ.1364/Rev.125/11/16Revised International SafetyNET Manual, which will enter into force on 1 January 2018
MSC.1/Circ.136524/05/10Commercially available locating, tracking and emergency notification devices
MSC.1/Circ.1382/Rev.224/06/13Questionnaire on the availability of shore‑based facilities in the GMDSS
MSC.1/Circ.1403/Rev.125/11/16Revised NAVTEX Manual, which will enter into force on 1 January 2018
MSC.1/Circ.1412/Rev.121/11/14Principles and Guidelines relating to the review and audit of the performance of LRIT Data Centres and the International LRIT Data Exchange (Principles and Guidelines)
MSC.1/Circ.141325/05/12Basic safety guidance for yacht races or oceanic voyages by non-regulated craft
GMDSS.1/Circ.1920/07/16Master Plan of shore-based facilities for the GMDSS (GMDSS Master Plan)
Current SAR.7/CircularList of documents which should be held by a MRCC or JRCC


3. Non-IMO publications




November 2013 (updated bi-annually)

List of Coast Stations and Special Service Stations (List IV) [on CD-ROM]
can be purchased at:

ITU List V


2017 (updated annually)

List of Ship Stations and Maritime Mobile Service Identity Assignments (List V) [on CD-ROM]
can be purchased at:



Updated daily

Maritime online access and retrieval system (MARS) containing the same information as in List IV and List V above

Available for free at:

Cospas-Sarsat –

C/S G.007

October 2012

Handbook on Distress Alert Messages for RCCs, SPOCs and IMO Ship Security Competent Authorities (issue 1/Rev.3)

Available for free at:

List of Radio Signals List of Radio Signals
Air Navigation Plan for ICAO region the MRCC or JRCC is located in 

 Electronic Air Navigation Plan (eANP) available on ICAO Regional Office website located at:

ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices

ISBN 978-92-9231-384-5

July 2004Annex 12 – Search and Rescue