5th Session of IMO Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR)

By Hendrike Kühl, Policy Director, IUMI

The IMO Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue held its 5th Session (NCSR 5) from 19-23 February 2018 and was chaired by Ringo Lakeman from the Netherlands. NCSR addresses navigation and communication issues, including ships routing measures and ship reporting systems; requirements and performance standards for navigational and communication equipment; the long-range identification and tracking (LRIT) system and the development of e-navigation. It also works on issues related to search and rescue. 

Industry standard on software maintenance of shipboard equipment

BIMCO and CIRM (Comité International Radio Maritime) submitted a paper on an industry standard recently published to address software maintenance of shipboard equipment. With their submission the associations sought to raise awareness of the new standard and encourage wide application. IUMI supported the industry standard noting that with increasingly complex, integrated systems on board, improving the quality of software maintenance is crucial to ensure the safe operation of ships. The development of an ISO standard as suggested by BIMCO and CIRM is desirable and was also supported by IUMI.

New ship routing measures

New shipping routes in the Bering Sea and Bering Strait, aimed at reducing the risks of incidents and to protect the marine environment as well as local fishing activities, have been agreed by the NCSR Sub-Committee. The proposed measures such as two-way routes, precautionary areas and areas to be avoided in the Bering Sea and Bering Strait, will be forwarded to IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) 99th session for adoption in May. 

These are the first ship routing measures to be agreed by IMO for the Arctic region since IMO's Polar Code entered into force on 1 January 2017. 
NCSR further approved the following new and amended ships' routing measures, for submission to the MSC for adoption:

  • Traffic separation scheme and other routing measures in Dangan Channel (China);
  • Traffic separation schemes and other routing measures in the vicinity of Kattegat (Denmark and Sweden); and
  • Area to be avoided off the coast of Ghana in the Atlantic Ocean (an amendment) (Ghana).

Polar Code guidance 

Another agenda item looked at consequential work related to the Polar Code. Under this item a document was presented outlining the work ongoing to develop a common document to supplement performance standards for navigation and communication equipment used in polar waters. NCSR re-established a correspondence group to advance this guidance paper.

The sub-committee decided on draft Interim Guidelines for the harmonised display of navigation information received via communications equipment to be submitted to the MSC for approval. The objective of the draft interim guidelines is to make sure that information from communications equipment is displayed in a reliable and consistent format. The draft status of the guidelines suggests that they are likely to be re-examined once other rela