Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR), 2nd session, 9-13 March, 2015

Ship routeing measures to protect Australia’s Coral Sea agreed 
New ships routeing measures aimed at protecting sensitive areas in the south-west Coral Sea off Australia, linked to a proposed extension of the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA), have been agreed by the IMO Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR), meeting for its 2nd session. 

The recommendatory area to be avoided in the south-west Coral Sea, two-way shipping route in Diamond Passage and two-way route west of Holmes Reef aim to reduce the risk of ship collisions and groundings by separating opposing traffic streams, whilst ensuring ships keep clear of reefs, shoals and islets in the sensitive marine environment in Australia's Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve.  

Australia submitted the proposals as “Associated Protective Measures”, linked to a proposal to extend the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (GBR and TS PSSA) eastwards, to parts of the Coral Sea. The PSSA extension proposal will be submitted by Australia to IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) in May 2015 for consideration. 

The ships routeing measures are an “area to be avoided” and two new five nautical mile wide two-way routes, on either side of the area to be avoided.  The proposed ships routeing measures will be submitted to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 95) in June for adoption.  

New Alaska “areas to be avoided” agreed 
The Sub-Committee also approved the establishment of five recommendatory areas to be avoided (ATBAs) in the region of the Alaska Aleutian Islands, for vessels making transoceanic voyages through the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean adjacent to the islands, proposed by United States. The proposed ships’ routeing measures will be submitted to MSC 95 for adoption.  

Performance standards for multi-system shipborne navigation receivers endorsed
Draft Performance standards for multi-system shipborne navigation systems were approved, for adoption by MSC 95. The performance standards aim to address the combined use of current and future radionavigation as well as augmentation systems for the provision of position, velocity and time data within the maritime navigation system. 

The minimum specifications are for multi-system shipborne navigation receivers, which use navigation signals from two or more Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), with or without augmentation, providing improved position, velocity and time data. 

An improved resistance to intentional and unintentional radio frequency interference is achieved when two or more independent or frequency diverse radionavigation systems are used. Such a combined approach also provides redundancy to mitigate the loss of a single system.

The need to develop associated guidelines for Position, Navigation, and Time (PNT) data and integrity information was recognized, and the Sub-Committee requested MSC 95 to authorize further work to develop Guidelines associated with multi-system shipborne radionavigation receivers dealing with the harmonized provision of PNT data and integrity information, to be finalized in 2017. 

E-navigation guidance endorsed
The Sub-Committee endorsed the draft MSC circular on Guideline on Software Quality Assurance and Human Centred Design for e-navigation, with a view to approval by the MSC.

The guideline encourages a disciplined and structured approach in the development and management of e-navigation systems, with particular focus on Software Quality Assurance (SQA) and Human Centred Design (HCD) that includes Usability Testing (UT). 

This guideline is intended to be used by all stakeholders involved in the design and development of e-navigation systems, with its primary users being those that develop and test e-navigation systems. 

Amendments to the IAMSAR Manual agreed
The Sub-Committee agreed draft revisions to Volumes I, II and III of the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual, to be included in the 2016 edition, for approval by the MSC. 

The draft amendments include various updates, including joint training for On Scene Coordinator (OSC) and Aircraft Coordinator (ACO); new sub-sections on “Area of SAR action” and “SAR refuelling facilities”; and reference to use of social media.  

Long-range identification and tracking performance standards updated 
The Sub-Committee reviewed the operation of the long-range identification and tracking (LRIT) system, including 44 audit reports, and approved amendments to update the LRIT performance standards and related circulars, to improve the functioning of the LRIT system. 

Review and modernization of the GMDSS continued
The Sub-Committee moved forward with its review of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and re-established the Correspondence Group on the review of the GMDSS to prepare for finalization of the detailed review at the next session,

The current SOLAS chapter IV, Radiocommunications was adopted in 1988 with a full phase-in of its requirements by 1999.  The current chapter IV sets out the undertakings by contracting governments to provide radiocommunications services as well as ship requirements for carriage of radiocommunications equipment, in order to improve the chances of rescue following an accident.  The modernization plan, which aims to take into account new technologies available, is expected to be completed in 2017 and approved in 2018.

ITU World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15)
The Sub-Committee endorsed the draft IMO position on ITU's World Communications Conference (WRC-15) agenda items concerning matters relating to maritime services for approval by MSC 95 and consequential submission to WRC-15, scheduled to take place from 2 to 27 November 2015.  The Sub-Committee invited MSC 95 to authorize the 11th meeting of the Joint IMO/ITU Experts Group on Maritime Radiocommunication Matters, to be held from 5 to 9 October 2015, to submit any additional information to the IMO position on WRC-15 directly to ITU for consideration by the Conference.