The Joint Working Group (commonly known as the SAR JWG) meets every year in an IMO or ICAO member state and discusses SAR matters related to ICAO and IMO convention requirements. In essence the SAR JWG is only focussed on SAR matters related to the requirements imposed on convention aircraft and ships and vessels. However, the SAR representatives at the meetings are from organisations that conduct SAR response to anyone in danger at sea or in the air or on land. So, this means that the JWG does discuss matters that are outside of ICAO of IMO interests.

The JWG is comprised of 12 members: 6 from Aviation and 6 from maritime. These members are normally from MRCC, ARCC, JRCC or are SAR maritime or air professionals or SAR administrators, most of whom have a SAR background.

The JWG can only make recommendations to ICAO and IMO, no one else.

The IMRF is an IMO recognised NGO and can sit as an observer. Observers can also submit papers and speak on any of the matters under discussion.

The JWG generally has around 30 to 35 papers to discuss. The length of papers varies and the discussion on the issues can be long or short. The JWG generally lasts around 4 to 5 days. A final report is written and published on both the ICAO and IMO website (IMO Docs for those that subscribe to the IMO).  The SAR JWG documents can be found under the NCSR subcommittee area then by clicking on the ICAO-IMO SAR JWG documents tab.

You can sign up for a free, public account, which allows you to access all IMO meetings documentation, here: IMO Web Accounts

This year the IMRF submitted five papers on the following subjects:

  •        The requirements for Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) to have capabilities and functions that will enable them to carry out SAR response.
  •        Concerns related to the lack of performance data for electro optical systems used by SAR services to locate distressed persons. This paper discussed the need to develop standardised test protocols to create agreed sweep width data for use by SAR Mission Coordinators, and rescue vessels, when calculating search area data.
  •        Report on the IMRF Collaboration with the IMO in providing SAR training and support to African SAR organisations and groups.
  •        The concept of the IMRF hosting the SAR JWG events calendar, and IMO and ICAO material that is useful for SAR but which cannot be contained within the IAMSAR manual (this is related to the problem of the IAMSAR manual becoming too large).

For further detail or comments on any of the papers, please contact [email protected]