Sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation (NAV), 58th session: 2-6 July 2012

Opening address


(2 to 6 July 2012)

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, good morning distinguished delegates. I would like to welcome all of you to this session of the Sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation.

From the beginning of the year, you may now be aware that I set my target and objectives:  a forward-looking Organization; strengthened authority in global standard setting; and an efficient and cost-conscious Organization. 

First of all, I would like to comment on important items on your agenda.  I wish to refer, first, to the matter of routeing of ships, ship reporting and related matters.  At this session, there are eight separate proposals by the Netherlands to amend the existing traffic measures and to establish new measures at different locations within the sea area between the North Hinder area and the traffic separation scheme "Off Texel" off the coast of the Netherlands.  Taking into account present and future developments of large scale renewable energy projects, these proposals aim to improve the safety of navigation as well as that of offshore oil and gas production platforms off the Netherlands' coast.  There are also proposals for routeing measures other than traffic separation schemes including approval of Associated Protective Measures (APMs) for the already adopted PSSA in the Strait of Bonifacio by MEPC 62, in principle, and for a mandatory ship reporting system in the Barents Sea by Norway and the Russian Federation.

To this end, bearing in mind the need to protect and sustain the marine eco system, I would like to encourage other Member Governments to review their existing ship routeing systems for future use of their coastal areas for sustainable development which includes development of large renewable energy projects; sand extraction and flood protection, whilst maintaining the safety of navigation.

The development of an e-navigation strategy implementation plan is again on your agenda.  The timeline for the development of the plan has been delayed by two years and I am concerned that the gap analysis, which forms the basis for further work, and which should have been finalized last year, is yet to be completed.  As the progress on this matter has been rather slow, I urge you to review your work and ensure that the goals you have identified are achieved within the prescribed time frame.  The Sub-Committee should focus its attention primarily on a final, prioritized, list of gaps of e-navigation so that the risk and cost benefit analysis of e-navigation solution can be completed as soon as possible.
While underlining the importance of being focused on finalizing the gap analysis and the cost benefit and risk analysis, other parallel issues such as Guidelines for usability evaluation of navigational equipment, Integrated Position, Navigation and Timing System, Software quality assurance and Guidelines for Test Beds should also be progressed.

This brings me to another important issue of great relevance that is operating anomalies in ECDIS, which were affecting the operational performance of some ECDIS systems.  The Organization has already issued guidance documents for all concerned, namely, MSC.1/Circ.1391 and SN.1/Circ.266/Rev.1.  I understand that issues arise for a number of reasons including:

 - problems of interpretation of standards by chart producers, original equipment manufacturers and testers;
 - some errors in charting; and 
 - in some cases, the latest version of the application software updates for ECDIS did not conform to the latest versions of IMO, IHO or IEC standards.

It is vital that we make progress on addressing these problems as it may have an adverse effect on safety of navigation.  I therefore, appeal to all involved to continue the on-going work on this issue with due diligence and urgency and appeal to other organizations to contribute to the process.  I have already set in motion meetings with ECDIS producers to discuss the problems recently identified in order to provide appropriate guidance to shipping companies and seafarers.  Secondly, we need to look at the issue of software updating especially since the ECDIS carriage requirements have recently entered into force.  Therefore, it is important that the Organization consolidates its guidance for the use of ECDIS and also ensures that training in the use of ECDIS is accorded a high priority.

2 July 1989 was the date I joined IMO, 23 years ago.

The last 6 months have been the most significant period of my life as a civil servant.

I have set my objectives, activated an internal mechanism for review and reform, and started my work with Mr. Ban, the United Nations Secretary-General, in particular technical co operation and anti-piracy activities and the importance of IMO, a UN specialized agency, delivering as one with the United Nations.
I proposed a new approach for technical co-operation with a country profile for technical co operation needs.
We have held high-level anti-piracy meetings: 

 - Djibouti Code of Conduct Ministerial meeting;
 - IMO Conference capacity building, which culminated in the signing of 5 strategic partnerships; and
 - the first ever high-level segment of MSC dealing with arms on board.

In this year of anniversary of 100 years since the sinking of the Titanic, there has been the casualty of the Costa Concordia.  I am pleased that the MSC is taking action; and that the cruise industry is also taking serious action.  We have to ensure a “safety culture” and with this in mind, prior to the MSC next year, we will hold a Future Ship Safety Symposium.

Two weeks ago, I attended Rio+20.  The topics of the Conference included:
 - the Green Economy; and
 - Sustainable Development Goals – to be further elaborated by the General Assembly of the UN at its 68th session.

IMO organized a side-event on: Sustainable Maritime Development to present the 7 pillars of sustainable maritime development: Energy Efficiency; New Technology; Education and Training; Maritime Security; Maritime Traffic Management; Maritime Infrastructure; and Global Standards.

All this work and progress was only possible because of the co-operation; the understanding and support of the Member Governments and the Secretariat, and I would like to express my sincere appreciation for that.
I will continue to put my utmost effort into the work of this Organization and I seek your continued co-operation and support.