Changes are coming to emergency response and voyage recording equipment performance standards on board ships when IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) meets later this year
The safety committee will be asked to approve performance standards and guidelines concerning emergency beacons and voyage data recorders either during its virtual meeting in May (MSC 103) or, more likely, in face-to-face meetings in October (MSC 104).
This comes after the IMO Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR) made progress on performance-standard amendments during its eighth session in April.
NCSR 8 approved draft MSC amendments for the performance standards of float-free emergency position-indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs). These operate on 406 MHz frequency to provide a signal of distress via a global satellite system to emergency response organisations. EPIRBs are seen as vital safety devices when seafarers are in trouble and require rescue.
In connection with this, NCSR also approved draft MSC resolutions on amendments to the performance standards for shipborne simplified voyage data recorders (resolution MSC.163(78)) and advanced voyage data recorders (resolution MSC.333(90)). These will be advanced with a view to adoption by MSC 104.
In addition, the sub-committee agreed to the draft revisions of MSC circulars on guidelines for shore-based maintenance of EPIRBs and guidelines on annual testing of 406 MHz EPIRBs for approval by MSC 104.
This could lead to changes in design, operation and testing of EPIRBs and voyage data recorders, which are vital safety aids for mariners and ships in distress and used during accident investigations.
NCSR 8 also considered the report of the 27th meeting of IMO and the International Civil Aviation Organization’s joint working group on harmonising aeronautical and maritime search and rescue.
NCSR 8 approved the provisional agenda for the next meeting to be held from 6 to 10 September 2021.
These amendments and discussions on emergency response came as NCSR 8 completed its review of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) modernisation requirements, agreeing draft amendments to SOLAS and other existing regulatory instruments to enable the use of modern communication systems in the GMDSS, while removing requirements to carry obsolete systems.
Meanwhile, EPIRB and voyage data recorder manufacturer Ocean Signal has tripled the size of manufacturing facilities in Margate, UK to support its accelerated growth plans and boost production. Ocean Signal manufactures other types of bridge equipment including AIS and man-overboard devices along with lifejacket inflation systems and lights at its Kent factory.
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