Navigation and communications safety in the Arctic will be improved due to a crucial sub-committee session at IMO this month.
IMO’s Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR 6) intends to draft guidance for navigation and communications equipment intended for use on ships operating in polar waters.
This is part of the ongoing implementation of IMO’s Polar Code, which safeguards the safety of ships operating in the harsh Arctic and Antarctic seas.
This guidance will include the design of equipment for navigation and communication for extremes in temperature to ensure it remains operational even when ships are sailing in winter months, recommendations on temperature and mechanical shock testing.
It would also address tackling ice accretion and levels of battery performance in cold climates.
This draft guidance is expected to be finalised at NCSR 6, which is being held in London from 16-25 January, ready to be presented to the next meeting of the Maritime Safety Committee.
IMO recognises the increasing shipping activity in polar seas, such as commercial ships using the northern sea routes around Russia and Siberia, and rising numbers of cruise expedition ships sailing to Antarctica.
NCSR 6 will also finalise the draft IMO position on maritime radiocommunication matters for submission to the World Radiocommunication Conference 2019, due to be held in November.
This will include having interference-free segments of the radio spectrum available and dedicated to maritime radiocommunication and radionavigation purposes, which are essential to the safety and security of ship operations worldwide.
NCSR 6 will also review progress on modernising the Global Maritime Distress and Safety system (GMDSS), which was originally adopted in 1988, to fully integrate maritime radio and satellite communications for emergencies and distress alerts worldwide.
IMO’s modernisation plan involves enabling the incorporation of new satellite communication services into existing GMDSS services and updating technology to include different methods of communications and data transmission.
On search and rescue matters, the NCSR 6 will consider recommendations from the latest regular International Civil Aviation Organization/IMO Joint Working Group. IMO is expected to validate a revised model course for search and rescue mission co-ordinators.
The sub-committee will also discuss harmonising and standardising e-navigation equipment and services. NCSR 6 will further develop the description of various maritime services co-ordinated by different organisations with a view to enhancing harmonisation. It will develop draft guidelines on standardised modes of operation, or S-mode, which will improve standardisation of the user interface and information used by seafarers.
NCSR 6 will also review proposed new and amended ship routeing measures, consider updates to Maritime Safety Information-related provisions and will discuss matters relating to the functioning and operation of the Long-Range Identification and Tracking system.