Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR), 5th session, 19-23 February 2018 (opening address)


(19 to 23 February 2018)

Excellences, distinguished delegates,
Good morning to you all.

It is a pleasure for me to welcome you to the fifth session of the Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue. I particularly welcome those delegates who may be attending this Sub-Committee for the first time.

Distinguished delegates,

2017 was busy but very productive and all the success and achievements of last year would not have been possible without our well established system of collaboration and cooperation, and I will do my utmost to open even further our communication channels which are paramount in facing together the challenges that lay ahead for the shipping industry.

I urge you to be proactive, and to deliver on the key issues that you will be addressing, not only during this meeting but throughout the year and beyond, and fulfilling the expectations and objectives set for the Organization, creating and sustaining an even safer, more secure, more environmentally friendly and more efficient maritime world.

I would like to take this opportunity to say a few words about this year's World Maritime Day theme, which is "IMO 70: Our heritage – better shipping for a better future". We are planning a series of events and initiatives to commemorate this landmark. Whilst I look forward to your participation in some or all of those events, I would also encourage you to embrace the theme and use this occasion to reflect and showcase how the Organization has adapted over the years as a crucial player to the global supply chain, and to be passionate about the IMO family. This is a great opportunity to raise awareness of our work and our future and to improve our international image. We owe it to the shipping industry and in particular to the seafarers.

This year’s World Maritime Day will be celebrated at IMO Headquarters on 27 September, and the annual parallel event will be organized by the Government of Poland.

Before turning to the important items on your agenda for this week, let me remind you that the submission of nominations for the 2018 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea is open until 16 April. For those who are not familiar with this prestigious annual Award, it was established by the Organization to provide international recognition to individuals who, at the risk of losing their own life, perform acts of outstanding bravery while attempting to rescue persons in distress at sea or to prevent catastrophic pollution of the marine environment.  I hope you will agree that we should do our utmost to identify these remarkable people to give them the recognition they rightly deserve and I look forward to receiving your nominations.


Distinguished delegates,

I would now like to highlight some key issues among the various items on the agenda of NCSR 5.

Following the approval of the Modernization Plan of the GMDSS, last year, you are invited to consider the first draft of the revision of SOLAS chapters III and IV and related instruments. This work will focus on the modernized GMDSS to replace the outdated provisions of the first GMDSS requirements which were part of the 1988 Amendments to SOLAS and should be completed in a timely fashion for the new GMDSS provisions to enter into force in 2024. Although the target completion year for the item is 2021, I would encourage you to progress this matter as a priority at this session since much work still remains to be done, in particular with respect to the related and consequential amendments to other existing instruments, like the amendments to several Assembly and MSC resolutions and several MSC and COMSAR circulars. 

I would further like to emphasize the importance of moving forward with the work on the development and implementation of e-navigation. At this session, you have three e-navigation related outputs on your agenda and I would encourage you to complete them as soon as possible. You will further be invited to consider proposed updates to the e-navigation strategy implementation plan and to identify potential new outputs to continue the implementation process of e-navigation.  I am looking forward to seeing the outcome of your work in this regard.

Another important item on your agenda is the consideration of the technical and operational assessment of the Inmarsat FleetBroadband Maritime Safety Data Service for use in the GMDSS, as well as the assessment of the remaining requirements of the Iridium mobile satellite system as future GMDSS service provider. The incorporation of new satellite communication services in the GMDSS is of high importance to the maritime community. However, when implementing new services, we have to make sure that we continue to provide seafarers with a robust distress and safety system, which they have to rely upon when their life is in danger. I, therefore, would encourage you to consider this matter thoroughly, in order to provide for a smooth implementation of those new services.

Among the other important issues before you this week, I would like to highlight the consideration of:

- proposed ships' routeing measures;
- the functioning and operation of the LRIT system;
- regional and global navigation satellite systems;
- consequential work related to the Polar Code; and
- amendments to the IAMSAR 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 Chair, Mr. Ringo Lakeman of the Netherlands. I am sure that, ably supported by the staff of the Secretariat as always, you will make sound, balanced and timely decisions and I extend best wishes to all of you for every success in your deliberations.

Finally, as is customary, all of you are cordially invited to a cocktail reception hosted by me in the Delegates' Lounge this evening, after the closure of today's session.

Thank you.