COMSAR discusses long range identification and tracking (LRIT) and ship security alert (SSA) systems

The IMO Subcommittee on Radiocommunication and Search and Rescue (COMSAR) held its 9th session 7-11 Feb 2005. The major issues of concern to INTERTANKO were maritime security items relating to long range identification and tracking (LRIT) of ships and ship security alert (SSA) systems.

With regard to LRIT, COMSAR was tasked with resolving a number of outstanding technical issues so that the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) can adopt amendments to SOLAS at its 80th session in May to make LRIT mandatory on all ships.

The main industry concerns are ensuring that there will be no cost to the shipowner to send a position message, that there will be no imposition of additional ship carriage requirements and that the message will be limited to time, position and identification of the ship. A working group made considerable progress in developing revised amendments to SOLAS and performance standards for LRIT (consistent with industry concerns), but it was not able to complete the task. MSC 80 will be asked to note progress so far, making it highly unlikely that MSC will adopt, at its May meeting, any amendments to SOLAS to make LRIT mandatory this year.

With regard to SSAs, COMSAR agreed that appropriate guidance should be issued so that SSA service providers (receivers of the alert message) deliver the alert message without delay so that competent authorities can take appropriate action. Administrations that receive alert messages should ensure that the recipients of the alert message are capable of processing the information with the highest priority. Test procedures for SSA systems would be left to individual administrations, rather than developing an international standard.

In addition, COMSAR adopted a circular recommending that ships consider the immediate re-broadcasting of any warnings of tsunamis and other natural disasters that they receive, so as to maximise their effect; and that such ships should activate any emergency response procedures they deem necessary to assist, if necessary, in search and rescue operations.

COMSAR 10 is scheduled to take place in March 2006.

Contact: Joe Angelo