Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR), 10th session, 10-19 May 2023

Associated protective measures (APMs) within the particularly sensitive sea area in the North-Western Mediterranean Sea (NW Med PSSA) 

The Sub-Committee agreed to the draft APMs for inclusion in the final Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) resolution on the designation of the NW Med PSSA, aiming to protect cetaceans from international shipping. MEPC 79 agreed, in principle, to the designation of the NW Med PSSA, subject to the further development and approval of the proposed APMs, which include recommended measures, such as reducing speed, increased look out and reporting of cetacean sighting and any collisions. 

The Sub-Committee invited MSC 107, as an urgent matter, to agree that the above-mentioned APMs could be referred directly to MEPC 80, taking into account their general nature aiming at information-sharing primarily for contributing to the protection of the marine environment.  

Ship reporting system  

The Sub-Committee agreed to a draft SN circular on Recognition of ship reporting system in the "Pentland Firth (PENTREP)", for approval by MSC 108 and implementation six months after its approval. The area covers the Pentland Firth, which separates the Orkney Islands from the Scottish mainland. 

Pilot transfer arrangements   

The Sub-Committee considered proposals to revise SOLAS regulation V/23 and associated instruments to improve the safety of pilot transfer arrangements and agreed to develop mandatory performance standards.   

A correspondence group was established to prepare draft performance standards with relevant detailed requirements for design, manufacture, construction, inspection, maintenance, replacement rigging and training, with a view to finalization at NCSR 11, as well as associated draft amendments to SOLAS regulation V/23.  

Integrity of AIS   

A working group which met during the session discussed possible ways to enhance information security of AIS (Automatic Identification System) to prevent manipulation of AIS transmissions and tampering with AIS transponders, including potential amendments to identified IMO instruments.  

The Sub-Committee agreed to further explore ways to enhance the information security of AIS signals and, in this respect, invited the Committee to approve a new output on ʺIdentification of measures to improve the security and integrity aspects of AISʺ so that  interested Member States and organizations can submit proposals on this matter to the next session. 

The Sub-Committee also invited the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to review their respective instruments relating to specifications of AIS in order to prevent AIS spoofing.  

Liaison with ITU on radiocommunication matters 

The Sub-Committee finalized the draft final IMO position on World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-23) agenda items concerning matters relating to Maritime Services, for approval by MSC 107.  

 WRC-23 will be held in the United Arab Emirates from 20 November to 15 December 2023. It is essential that the radio spectrum assigned to maritime services (both terrestrial and satellite) is protected and that IMO’s plans for future developments on maritime services are taken into account.  

 The Sub-Committee also approved draft liaison statements to ITU on 

  • Protection of maritime safety systems from electromagnetic interference (EMI) emanating from wireless power transmission (WPT) systems; 
  • Revision of Recommendation ITU-R M.1371-5; 
  • EPIRB MMSI encoding for craft associated with a parent ship; and 
  • Digital Selective Calling alarms and the Bridge Alert Management. 

Next meeting of the Joint IMO/ITU Experts Group  

The Sub-Committee approved draft terms of reference for the nineteenth meeting of the Joint IMO/ITU Experts Group on Maritime Radiocommunication Matters, scheduled to be held from 9 to 13 October 2023 at IMO Headquarters in London. 

Harmonization of GMDSS requirements for radio installations on board SOLAS ships  

The Sub-Committee approved modifications to COMSAR/Circ.32/Rev.1 on Harmonization of GMDSS requirements for radio installations on board SOLAS ships; to be issued as COMSAR/Circ.32/Rev.2 with an effective implementation date of 1 January 2024.  

Permitting continued installation of radio installations complying with existing standards 

The Sub-Committee considered matters concerning delays affecting the availability of certain GMDSS equipment compliant with the revised performance standards set out in resolutions MSC.511(105), MSC.512(105) and MSC.513(105) from 1 January 2024 and prepared a draft MSC circular recommending permitting continued installation of radio installations complying with the existing standards until 1 January 2028, for approval by MSC 107.  

Revision of resolution A.1001(25) 

The Sub-Committee progressed the revision of resolution A.1001(25) on Criteria for the provision of mobile satellite communication services in the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and re-established a Correspondence Group to continue the work intersessionally. 

ECDIS performance standards updated  

The Sub-Committee approved, for adoption by MSC, a revision of resolution MSC.530(106) on Performance standards for electronic chart display and information systems (ECDIS) introducing new ECDIS functionalities for a standardized digital exchange of shipsʹ route plans between ships and shore-based authorities. The implementation of the new functionalities will be aligned with the implementation dates set out in the ECDIS Performance Standards which introduced, in particular, the application of new IHO Data Standards and product specifications (S-98, S-100 and S-101) with regard to ECDIS equipment installed on or after 1 January 2029 and, optionally, for equipment installed after 1 January 2026 and before 1 January 2029. 

Progress on digital navigational data system (NAVDAT)   

The Sub-Committee progressed the development of draft performance standards for the reception of maritime safety information and search and rescue related information by MF and HF digital navigation data system (NAVDAT) and endorsed a roadmap of elements to be considered for the introduction of such a system in the future.  

The roadmap envisages, inter alia, identifying the areas where NAVDAT can complement NAVTEX/GMDSS in providing maritime safety information to ships at sea and what identified gap(s) it is filling. Further steps would include developing performance standards, pilot projects and tests, training matters, and liaising with other bodies such as  IHO and WMO on the development of guidelines and procedures for the integration process.  

NAVDAT is a digital broadcasting system operating on selected MF and HF frequency bands and capable of communicating texts, images, graphs, data, etc. to compatible shipborne receiving equipment at speeds much higher than NAVTEX. 

Further work on NAVDAT will continue intersessionally by the upcoming meeting of the IMO/ITU Experts Group on Maritime Radiocommunication Matters.   

Progress on VHF Data Exchange System (VDES) 

The Sub-Committee considered the introduction of the proposed VHF Data Exchange System (VDES) into SOLAS, including the development of related performance standards and guidelines. A correspondence group was established to undertake a technical, regulatory and operational analysis of VDES and its communication component and, based on the analysis, develop draft amendments to SOLAS and associated instruments to introduce VDES in the IMO framework. 

VDES is a radiocommunication system comprising of VHF data exchange (VDE), Application specific message (ASM) and automatic identification system (AIS) in the VHF maritime mobile band and is capable of exchanging digital data, at speeds higher than AIS, in the ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship directions using both terrestrial and satellite components. 

Maritime Search and Rescue – recommendations from the ICAO/IMO Joint Working  Group  

The Sub-Committee considered the report of the latest meeting of the ICAO/IMO Joint Working Group on Harmonization of Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue and approved the provisional agenda of the next meeting, to be held in Cape Town, South Africa, from 6 to 10 November 2023.  

The Sub-Committee also approved revised guidance for search and rescue services regarding the implementation of autonomous distress tracking (ADT) of aircraft in flight, for dissemination as COMSAR.1/Circ.59/Rev.1 

The Sub-Committee validated model courses on SAR Administration and SAR On scene Coordinator. 

Revision of description of maritime services in the context of e-navigation 

The Sub-Committee finalized the revision of MSC.1/Circ.1610 on Description of maritime services in the context of e-navigation, subject to confirmation by the FAL Committee, for approval by MSC 108.  

Dissemination of MSI and SAR related information  

The Sub-Committee progressed the consideration of issues concerning the dissemination of maritime safety information and search and rescue related information over multiple recognized mobile satellite services, including technical solutions, interoperability and interconnectivity, amendments to existing instruments and cost implications for information providers. MSC 108 was invited to consider a number of issues which require high level policy decisions.  

Updated Joint IMO/IHO/WMO Manual on Maritime Safety Information 

The Sub-Committee agreed to the draft revised Joint IMO/IHO/WMO Manual on Maritime Safety Information, with a view to approval by MSC 108. 

Iridium SafetyCast service manual  

The Sub-Committee agreed to the first edition of the Iridium SafetyCast service manual, with a view to approval by MSC 107.