Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communication, Search and Rescue (NCSR), 3rd session, 29 February-4 March (opening address)


(29 February to 4 March 2016)

Good morning, distinguished delegates,

I am very pleased to welcome you all to the third session of the Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue. As you are aware, this is the first session of NCSR during my tenure as Secretary-General, and I am very determined to build on the good work of my predecessors and I know I can count on the support of the IMO family as we work together toward our shared objectives. I am very fortunate to be supported by the very competent staff of the Secretariat, and in terms of NCSR my special recognition goes in advance to the Director of the Maritime Safety Division and his staff for all their good work in preparing for this meeting.

I am of the firm view that IMO's core goals can only be achieved when all Member States join together to implement IMO standards properly. To this end, I want to act as a bridge among Member States to ensure communication and understanding. While continuing with IMO's vital and necessary function of rule-making, I will ensure that utmost focus is placed on improving implementation at a global level.

I find that better communication is especially pertinent point today as I address the NCSR Sub-Committee. Many of your delegations here today prove the importance of communication, as government agencies from the shipping, radiocommunications and environmental branches come together to make decisions that have to take both the necessary minimum safety standards and the shipping industry's needs into account.

Today, I would also urge you to think about communication amongst yourselves. Use this opportunity, while you are here in London, to speak to colleagues from Member States and NGOs and observers to share knowledge and information. Getting a better understanding of the circumstances in different countries and industries, will lead you to make better and sounder decisions. 

I also want to raise IMO's profile around the world, promoting the Organization as the single, global body for maritime policy and regulation. This will also lead to increased focus on the importance of the shipping industry.


As I am sure some of you know, the United Nations Secretary-General visited IMO Headquarters just about a month ago. When he addressed delegates and IMO staff here in this hall, he – among other things – said, and I quote:

"Every country relies, to some degree, on selling what it produces and acquiring what it lacks.  Shipping connects buyers and sellers across the world. It transports the commodities, fuel, food, goods and products on which we all depend. Shipping is indispensable." End quote.

Shipping and international trade have always grown hand in-hand. Shipping – as the only truly cost-effective, energy-efficient and sustainable means of transporting goods and commodities in bulk – has become truly indispensable to the world.

Seaborne trade continues to expand, bringing benefits to consumers across the world through competitive freight costs.

This is why, the IMO Council has decided that Theme of the World Maritime Day 2016 should be "Shipping: Indispensable to the world".

This year's theme was chosen to focus on the critical link between shipping and global society and to raise awareness of the relevance of the role of IMO as the global regulatory body for international shipping.

This is a message that needs, and deserves, a wider audience. Almost everyone in the world today relies on shipping to some extent – but very few are aware of it. But, now that the United Nations Secretary-General has highlighted it, maybe we will have an easier time bringing this message to the world.

This year, World Maritime Day will be celebrated at IMO Headquarters on Thursday, 29th September, and the annual parallel event will be held in Turkey in November.


Distinguished delegates,

You have a lot to do this week, and I will not take up your time telling you about what you are about to embark on.

But allow me to highlight one matter in particular, namely the completion of the review of the GMDSS. This week, you are expected to finalize the Detailed Review of the GMDSS. This will conclude discussions of 7 years, since the initial discussions took place at COMSAR 13 in 2009. The finalization of the review of the GMDSS is crucial to initiate the next phase of the project, namely the development of the Modernization Plan. It is important for all stakeholders to ensure that the project is completed within the time frame set out in the revised plan of work. According to the plan of work, the Modernization Plan should be approved by MSC 99 in 2018. Therefore, we would like to encourage you to complete the review of the GMDSS at this session.

You have many other important issues before you this week, ranging from matters related to ships' routeing, recognition of Galileo and Iridium, LRIT, e-navigation, harmonization of aeronautical and maritime search and rescue - and much more.


Distinguished delegates,

[Before I finish, I would like to inform that I, as are many others, were saddened to learn of the passing of Captain Norman Cockcroft in December last year.  Captain Cockcroft was a true expert on the International Regulations on Prevention of Collisions at Sea, and the much respected co-author, along with Captain Jan Lameijer of the Netherlands, of the authoritative text on the Collision Avoidance Rules. His contributions to the Sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation were many, and they were always delivered with patience and grace. With Captain Cockcroft's passing, we have lost not only an expert in a field we all respect, we have lost a friend.  He will be missed and long remembered.]


I am confident that you will tackle the tasks before you successfully, inspired by the customary IMO spirit of cooperation. Thanks to all the preparatory efforts and the Sub-Committee's overall record of effectively dealing with any challenges deriving from its agenda, I trust that, under the able leadership of your Chairman, Mr. Ringo Lakeman (from Netherlands), you will make sound, balanced and timely decisions on which to base your advice to the Maritime Safety Committee. I am confident you will pursue your objectives vigorously and diligently. As always, the Secretariat will be standing by to give you all the support as necessary. I wish you every success in your deliberations and the best of luck.

Finally, as is customary, I would like to remind you that the Secretariat will host a cocktail reception after the close of business this afternoon to which all of you are cordially invited and I believe it will be a nice opportunity to share and exchange your views over rounds of wine.

Thank you.