Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR 9) opening remarks


(21 June 2022)

Distinguished delegates, good morning, good day and good evening,

It is a pleasure for me to welcome you to the ninth session of the Sub‑Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue.

The pandemic has brought sorrow and hardship around the world. It has also reminded the world how crucial seafarers and shipping are for the continuity of global supply chains.

This Sub-Committee's work is essential for the safe movement of global trade. I urge you to keep up the good work and continue to deliver on the key issues, not only during this session but throughout the year and beyond, fulfilling the expectations and objectives set for the Organization and creating a connected, dynamic and global maritime community that is safer, more secure and more environmentally friendly than ever.

I would like to take this opportunity to say a few words about this year's World Maritime Day theme, which is "New technologies for greener shipping".

This theme emphasizes the importance of a sustainable maritime sector and the need to build back better and greener in a post pandemic world.

Another important day in the calendar is 25 June, the "Day of the Seafarer", which this year coincides with your Sub-Committee session.

This year's campaign continues to encourage Governments to support seafarers amid the pandemic and calls for a fair future for seafarers. The campaign has reached a staggering 51 million people so far on various social media platforms and keeps growing.

Your support matters, in particular for raising the morale, motivation and welfare of seafarers. Please join us in this honourable journey.

Distinguished delegates,

Let me highlight some key issues amongst the various items on the NCSR 9 agenda.

I would like to sincerely congratulate you for the active role the Sub‑Committee played in the adoption of amendments to the SOLAS Convention and related instruments concerning the modernization of the GMDSS, after long and challenging work that started more than a decade ago. Although this part of the work is now completed, there are still a number of important GMDSS related matters on your agenda, including the technical and operational assessment of the BeiDou Message Service System for its use in the GMDSS, the revision of the Assembly resolution concerning the criteria for the provision of mobile satellite communication services in the GMDSS, and issues concerning the dissemination of information through multiple recognized services. I look forward to fruitful deliberations on these issues.

At this session, your Sub-Committee is also expected to finalize the first ever amendments to the Polar Code, together with associated amendments to the SOLAS Convention, to incorporate new requirements for non-SOLAS ships concerning the safety of navigation and voyage planning. The significance of these amendments cannot be overestimated as they will enhance the safety of ships operating under the special conditions the polar areas present, as well as that of the persons on board.

Another important agenda item is the revision of the Assembly resolution on Guidelines on places of refuge for ships in need of assistance to ensure that it remains up to date and continues to serve as an effective instrument, providing a clear framework to deal with ships in need of assistance and seeking a place of refuge, which can be applied in a consistent and harmonized manner globally.

While we emphasize the importance of preventative measures before accidents happen, search and rescue is, of course, the last safeguard to ensure that lives are not lost at sea. The efficient provision of maritime SAR services and the establishment of clear SAR procedures is essential for the timely assistance to ships and human lives that may be at risk.

The upcoming ITU World Radio Conference 2023 is undoubtedly a high-profile event that will have a direct impact on maritime radiocommunications. In this regard, your Sub-Committee is expected to finalize the draft IMO position on relevant agenda items of the Conference, in order to protect the existing maritime radio spectrum and to support the introduction of new communication and navigation systems in the maritime service.

Among the other important issues, you will be dealing with during this session, I would like to highlight the following:

  • proposed ships' routeing measures;

  • navigational equipment issues, including ECDIS and electronic inclinometers;

  • consideration of descriptions of Maritime Services in the context of e-navigation; and

  • revision of the NAVTEX Manual,

to name just a few.

Distinguished delegates,

I am confident that you will tackle the tasks before you successfully as usual, inspired by the customary IMO spirit of cooperation and under the competent leadership of your new Chair, Mr. Nigel Clifford of New Zealand, supported by the Vice-Chair, Mr. Alexander Schwarz of Germany. I am sure that, ably supported as always by the staff of the Secretariat, you will make sound, balanced and timely decisions.

I extend my best wishes to all of you for every success in your deliberations.

Thank you.