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Modernising the global maritime distress and safety system

Search and rescue at sea depends on the integrated satellite and terrestrial radiocommunication communications system – the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS). The GMDSS is mandatory under the International convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). IMO’s Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR 7, 15-24 January) will continue its ongoing work to review GMDSS requirements, to enable the use of modern communication systems in the GMDSS, while removing requirements to carry obsolete systems. The aim is to finalize the review in 2021, for submission to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), so that SOLAS amendments can be adopted for entry into force in 2024.

The Sub-Committee is set to complete its update of the International SafetyNET Services Manual. SafetyNET is an integral part of the GMDSS, providing an automatic direct-printing satellite-based service for the promulgation of safety information and warnings.

Work on developing safety measures for non-SOLAS ships operating in polar waters will continue. The Polar Code is mandatory under SOLAS, but this generally excludes fishing vessels, pleasure yachts, smaller ships under 500 gross tons and vessels on domestic voyages.

Proposed revisions to guidelines on places of refuge for ships in need of assistance will also be considered.

The Sub-Committee will receive information on the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), with a view to considering its recognition as a future component of the world-wide radio navigation system. Information will also be received on the Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) (Japan) for development of performance standards for QZSS equipment and with a view to its future recognition.

The Sub-Committee is expected to revise guidelines for vessel traffic services. The session will also review proposed amended ships’ routeing measures, discuss matters relating to the functioning and operation of the Long-Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) and prepare liaison statements to the International Telecommunications Union.

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim opened the session, which is being chaired by Mr. Ringo Lakeman (Netherlands).

Source: IMO