Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR), 5th session, 16-25 January 2019 (closing remarks)


Chair, distinguished delegates and observers,

Before coming to the closing remarks for the meeting, I would like to join the Russian Federation and the Chair of the Sub-Committee in conveying my sincere condolences to the bereaved families and friends of the victims of the accident which took place last Monday in the Kerch Strait, involving the Tanzanian-flagged LPG tankers Venice and Maestro.

Also, earlier this month, the mega container ship MSC ZOE lost some 270 containers in the North Sea. I would like to thank the flag State and the costal State for the speedy actions taken to minimize the damages.

As we are approaching the end of this very intensive sixth session of the Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue, I think we can all agree that it has been, as usual, an extremely busy one with a very full agenda. Now we can afford to pause for a few moments to look back, with a sense of satisfaction, on what has been achieved during this session.

 In relation to navigation, the approval of:
• a number of ships’ routeing measures;
• Guidance for navigation and communication equipment intended for use on ships operating in polar waters;
• Guidelines for the standardization of user interface design for navigation equipment; and
• Guidance on the definition and harmonization of the format and structure of Maritime Services in the context of e-navigation.

 In relation to communications, the approval of:

  • the IMO position for ITU’s World Radiocommunication Conference 2019;
  • several liaison statements to ITU;
  • the revision to resolution A.810(19) on Performance Standards for EPIRBs;
  • evisions of resolutions and circulars related to the promulgation of Maritime Safety Information (MSI); and
  • amendments to LRIT documentation and the procedures for the third modification testing phase of the LRIT system,
  • as well as substantial progress on the revision of SOLAS chapters III and IV and consequential amendments to existing instruments.

 And, finally, in relation to search and rescue:

  • the validation of the model course on SAR Mission Coordinator; and
  • the approval of the SAR.7 Circular on the List of documents and publications which should be held by a Maritime or Joint Rescue Coordination Centre.

Looking back at the achievements of this session makes me think about the fundamental role of this Organization in enhancing maritime safety. The actions taken and decisions made by this Sub-Committee are key for the implementation of effective measures for safe navigation, reliable communications and improved coordination to avoid maritime accidents and ensure a quick and efficient response in case of a search and rescue incident. There is no doubt that this Organization should continue to lead these kind of developments, having a broad vision of the way ahead, and addressing all safety aspects of navigation, including the harmonization of maritime services in the context of e-navigation, in collaboration with all Member States and international organizations.

All this has been achieved under the skillful pilotage of your Chair, Mr. Ringo Lakeman of the Netherlands, supported by the hard work of your Vice-Chair and with the help of all of you. I wish to express to the Chair and Vice-Chair my congratulations on their re-election. By agreeing to the proposed arrangements for this 8-day meeting, you ensured substantially extended meeting times for the working groups, which has clearly resulted in a very positive outcome, as is evident by the completed tasks I summed up earlier. I am also aware that many of you continued working over the weekend, and I would like to thank all of you for your tireless efforts to get the work done at this session.

I further wish to express my sincere thanks to the Chairs of the working and experts groups:

  • Mr. Nigel Clifford of New Zealand;
  • Mr. Alexander Schwarz of Germany;
  • Mr. Siu Man Chung of Hong Kong, China; and
  •  Mr. Joris Brouwers of the Netherlands.

and also to the chairs of intersessional working groups and coordinators of correspondence groups for their commitment, good-will and co-operation to progress the Sub-Committee’s work and, most importantly, achieve consensus decisions.

My appreciation also goes to the dedicated staff of the Maritime Safety Division, in particular to the new Secretary of your Sub-Committee, Mr. Javier Yasnikouski, who was thrown in at the deep end at his first meeting, but, with the active support of his Deputy Director Mr. Hans van der Graaf, and the leadership of the Director, Mrs. Heike Deggim, managed to keep it all together and emerge victoriously.  I would also like to thank the interpreters, who facilitated our communication greatly; and all staff of the Conference Division, in particular those of the Documents and Conference Sections and the translators. All of them work tirelessly behind the scenes to provide the required professional support to meet your expectations.

Chair, distinguished delegates,

It is customary at this stage of the meeting to pay tribute to delegates and observers who have left or are about to leave, for a variety of reasons. In saying our farewells, we thank them sincerely for their valuable contribution to the work of the Sub-Committee and IMO and wish them well. They will be mentioned in the final report of the Sub-Committee, and any hints to the Secretariat who should be included will be gratefully received.

Finally, let me take this opportunity to wish all of you an enjoyable and well deserved weekend and to those travelling home, a safe trip.