Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT)

During its second week of meetings the MSC Working Group engaged in protracted discussions regarding the matter of Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) and proposed amendments to SOLAS, based on the text developed by COMSAR 9. Whilst the Committee is still in the process of discussing the Working Group’s report at the IMO at the time of going to press this week, the following are the salient points emanating from the Group’s discussions.

 SOLAS

Following in-depth discussions regarding the section of SOLAS in which the amendments should be included, the Group concluded by recommending that the Maritime Safety Committee should decide, at the appropriate time, into which chapter of SOLAS the LRIT regulation should be incorporated. 

Costs

It was recalled that MSC 78 had concurred that the provision of LRIT information should be at “no-cost” to the ship and that the total cost of the LRIT information should be paid by the user SOLAS Contracting Government. The Group agreed, therefore, to recommend to the Committee that SOLAS Contracting Governments (in their capacity as flag, port or coastal states) should pay the LRIT data centre for the LRIT information they request and receive. It was noted that the final cost would be dependent upon the number of Contracting Governments which sought to obtain such information, to what extent and how often. 

Distance offshore

Strong views were aired regarding what was felt to be the appropriate distance off shore at which LRIT information should be available. One delegation expressed the view that one of the fundamental purposes of LRIT was to permit coastal states to have sufficient time to evaluate the security risk posed by the ship. This would require a distance of 2000 nautical miles. Some other delegates, however, held the view that 200 miles was sufficient, but this created some concerns to the United States as this distance coincided with the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) distance. The U.S. representative stated that the U.S. could not support any proposal that aligned LRIT distances with the EEZ or other established zones. A number of other delegations expressed various views regarding what was felt to be an appropriate distance, ranging between 200-2000 miles. Others expressed the view that instead of a distance offshore, the period of time a ship may require to reach the coastal state should be used as a criterion, but due to variations in the speed of a ship, caused by e.g. the need to avoid bad weather, this might not achieve the objective. What is considered an appropriate distance will therefore not be determined at this session but will be further discussed at the forthcoming intersessional meeting. 

Intersessional meeting

It has also been requested to authorise an intersessional COMSAR working group meeting on LRIT for 5 days preceding the week of COMSAR 10 to enable the completion during COMSAR 10 of the technical work relating to LRIT. 

Contact: Howard Snaith