The IMRF recently attended the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO’s) Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR) subcommittee meeting as part of the organisation’s consultative status with global shipping’s largest body.

The meeting, which took place at the IMO’s headquarters in London in mid-May, takes place annually to discuss and agree rules, standards, processes, procedures, technological, SAR, pollution prevention and other relevant developments for commercial vessels that are of concern to the IMO.

Roly McKie, the IMRF’s IMO Representative, attended the event on behalf of the IMRF and its membership, and provided a comprehensive report detailing all of the actions and activities of the NCSR and its applications to maritime SAR. This report is available in full to IMRF members only. For a copy of the full report, please email [email protected].

A summary of the report can be found below.

The NCSR is made up of three working groups: navigation (ships routing measures and anything to do with safe navigation of vessels); communications (radio systems, satellite communications, data transmission and sharing and exchange of information by radio systems, general communications by ships, navigational safety, and SAR); and SAR matters (anything to do with SAR processes, procedures, technologies, communications, or operational safety).

The NCSR subcommittee meeting also contains a SAR working group, comprising representatives of member states of IMO and some of the SAR experts from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) SAR Joint Working Group (SAR JWG).

IMRF members are represented at both the IMO NCSR SAR working group and ICAO-IMO SAR JWG by a dedicated representative. Your views and opinions will be taken into account and presented to the two working groups. That interaction will help to influence the direction of IMO and ICAO regarding SAR matters that affect the membership.

During the 2023 meeting, the NCSR discussed a number of areas of business, including:

  • ICAO-IMO SAR Joint Working Group to become a standing working group
  • Routeing measures and mandatory ship reporting systems
  • Development of amendments to SOLAS chapters IV and V and performance standards and guidelines to introduce VHF data exchange system (VDES)
  • Developments in GMDSS services, including guidelines on maritime safety information (MSI)
  • Development of global maritime SAR services, including harmonization of maritime and aeronautical procedures.
  • Amendments to the IAMSAR Manual

The meeting also included the election of the Chair of the NCSR for 2024, with Nigel Clifford of New Zealand successfully re-elected.