Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR 8) opening remarks



Excellencies, distinguished delegates, good morning, good afternoon, good evening

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to this first remote session of the Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue.

I would like to commence this session by expressing my profound regret and deep sorrow to our host government on the passing of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on 9 April 2021. 
His Royal Highness will be remembered for his outstanding qualities and absolute commitment to the many noble causes he supported throughout his life just as much as for his kindness and warmheartedness.
The maritime community is particularly moved by his loss, as we have always valued and admired his strong commitment to maritime pursuits and his dedication to the Royal Navy which he served with honour and bravery.
On behalf of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), its Member States and on my own behalf, I wish to convey my deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences. A message of condolence has been transmitted to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth on behalf of the Members States of the Organization.

Distinguished delegates,

Since the last session of the Sub-Committee in January 2020, we had to adapt our way of working due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have also had to respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic and its serious impact on global trade, travel and particularly on seafarers. 

We are still working tirelessly with our UN sister organizations and social partners to ensure the global recognition of seafarers as "key workers" and to prioritize their vaccination, thereby facilitating seafarers' safe movement across borders.

In this connection, I would like to draw your attention to this year's World Maritime Theme: "Seafarers: at the core of shipping's future", which provides a unique opportunity to send a clear message to the world to help protect seafarers' rights and raise awareness of their exceptional contribution as key and essential workers, on the front line of delivering world trade despite the ongoing pandemic. 

And now to the business at hand for this session. Due to the prevailing conditions, MSC 102 approved a reduced agenda for this session taking into account that the workload of your Sub- Committee has to be accommodated in significantly less time than we would usually have available. 

Your Sub-Committee has for its consideration the reports of the sixteenth meeting of the Joint IMO/ITU Experts Group on Maritime Radiocommunication Matters, twenty-seventh meeting of the ICAO/IMO Joint Working Group on Harmonization of Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue and two correspondence groups that were established by NCSR 7.  In this regard, I take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the Chairs of the Joint IMO/ITU Experts Group and the ICAO/IMO Joint Working Group, the coordinators of the correspondence groups, and all the participants. I thank you for your commitment and for your efforts to progress the work of the Sub- Committee despite the difficult circumstances that we are all facing.  

Building on the work that was carried out intersessionally, I encourage you to make progress on the substantive items on the agenda for this session, such as:

.1 the revision of SOLAS chapter IV for Modernization of the GMDSS, including other consequential amendments;

.2 the revision of the Guidelines on places of refuge for ships in need of assistance; 

.3 the consideration of Safety measures for non-SOLAS ships operating in polar waters; and

.4 the consideration of developments in GMDSS services, maritime SAR services and other maritime radiocommunication matters.

Notwithstanding the reduced agenda, it covers a highly diverse set of subjects. I am confident that the customary IMO spirit of cooperation will prevail during your deliberations and I hope that, under the able leadership of your Chair, Mr. Ringo Lakeman of the Netherlands, supported by your Vice-Chair, Mr. Nigel Clifford of New Zealand, the Sub-Committee will have open and informative discussions, and make progress on the important agenda items under consideration.

Thank you