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Polar Radio Communication, Navigation Norms Getting Ready

Pic:  International Maritime Organization (IMO)

Shailaja A. Lakshmi

International Maritime Organization (IMO)'s Polar Code helps ensure that ships operating in the harsh Arctic and Antarctic areas take into account extremes of temperature and make sure critical equipment remains operational.

Draft guidance for navigation and communication equipment intended for use on ships operating in polar waters is expected to be finalized by the current session of the Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR 6, 16-25 January).

The guidance will include recommendations on temperature and mechanical shock testing, and on how to address ice accretion and battery performance in cold temperatures.

The Sub-Committee will also consider the report of the 14th meeting of the Joint IMO/ITU Experts Group on maritime radiocommunication matters. The meeting will finalize the draft IMO position on maritime radiocommunication matters for submission to the World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19), to be held in November.

The availability of interference-free parts of radio spectrum, dedicated for maritime radiocommunication and radionavigation purposes, is essential to ensure the safety and security of shipping.

The Sub-Committee will continue its work on a number of key agenda items, including the ongoing work to modernize the Global Maritime Distress and Safety system (GMDSS).

The mandatory GMDSS was adopted in 1988 to ensure full integration of maritime radio and satellite communications so that distress alerts can be generated from anywhere on the world's oceans. The modernization plan aims to update the provisions, including allowing for the incorporation of new satellite communication services.

On e-navigation matters, the meeting will focus on harmonization and standardization which is key for the effective implementation of the e-navigation strategy. The Sub-Committee will further develop the description of various maritime services coordinated by different organizations with the view to enhance harmonization; and draft guidelines on standardized modes of operation, or S-mode, which will improve standardization of the user interface and information used by seafarers.

On search and rescue matters, the Sub-Committee will consider recommendations from the latest regular International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)/IMO Joint Working Group. IMO works closely with ICAO on the harmonization of aeronautical and maritime search and rescue. The meeting is expected to validate a revised model course on SAR Mission Coordinator.

Amongst other regular agenda items, the Sub-Committee will review proposed new and amended ships' routeing measures, consider updates to Maritime Safety Information (MSI) related provisions and will discuss matters relating to the functioning and operation of the Long-Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT).

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

Jan 16, 2019

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