Chapter 1 introduction to marine navigation definitions 100. The Art And Science Of Navigation

The International Maritime Organization

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124. The International Maritime Organization

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) was established by United Nations Convention in 1948. The Convention actually entered into force in 1959, although an international convention on marine pollution was adopted in 1954. (Until 1982 the official name of the organization was the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organiza- tion.) It is the only permanent body of the U. N. devoted to maritime matters, and the only special U. N. agency to have its headquarters in the UK.

The governing body of the IMO is the Assembly of 137 member states, which meets every two years. Between Assembly sessions a Council, consisting of 32 member governments elected by the Assembly, governs the organi- zation. Its work is carried out by the following committees:

• Maritime Safety Committee, with subcommittees for:

• SafetyofNavigation • Radiocommunications • Life-saving • SearchandRescue • Training and Watchkeeping • Carriage of Dangerous Goods • ShipDesignandEquipment • Fire Protection • Stability and Load Lines/Fishing Vessel Safety • Containers and Cargoes • Bulk Chemicals • Marine Environment Protection Committee • Legal Committee • Technical Cooperation Committee • Facilitation Committee

IMO is headed by the Secretary General, appointed by the council and approved by the Assembly. He is assisted by some 300 civil servants.

To achieve its objectives of coordinating international pol- icy on marine matters, the IMO has adopted some 30 conventions and protocols, and adopted over 700 codes and rec- ommendations. An issue to be adopted first is brought before a committee or subcommittee, which submits a draft to a confer- ence. When the conference adopts the final text, it is submitted


to member governments for ratification. Ratification by a speci- fied number of countries is necessary for adoption; the more important the issue, the more countries must ratify. Adopted conventions are binding on member governments.

Codes and recommendations are not binding, but in most cases are supported by domestic legislation by the governments involved.

The first and most far-reaching convention adopted by the IMO was the Convention of Safety of Life at Sea (SO- LAS) in 1960. This convention actually came into force in 1965, replacing a version first adopted in 1948. Because of the difficult process of bringing amendments into force in- ternationally, none of subsequent amendments became binding. To remedy this situation, a new convention was adopted in 1974, and became binding in 1980. Among the regulations is V-20, requiring the carriage of up-to-date charts and publications sufficient for the intended voyage.

Other conventions and amendments were also adopted, such as the International Convention on Load Lines (adopt- ed 1966, came into force 1968), a convention on the tonnage measurement of ships (adopted 1969, came into force 1982), The International Convention on Safe Containers (adopted 1972, came into force 1977), and the convention on Inter- national Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) (adopted 1972, came into force 1977).

The 1972 COLREGS convention contained, among other provisions, a section devoted to Traffic Separation Schemes, which became binding on member states after having been adopted as recommendations in prior years.

One of the most important conventions is the Internation- al Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL 73/78), which was first adopted in 1973, amended by Protocol in 1978, and became binding in 1983. This conven- tion built on a series of prior conventions and agreements dating from 1954, highlighted by several severe pollution disasters in- volving oil tankers. The MARPOL convention reduces the amount of oil discharged into the sea by ships, and bans dis- charges completely in certain areas. A related convention known as the London Dumping Convention regulates dumping of hazardous chemicals and other debris into the sea.

IMO also develops minimum performance standards for a wide range of equipment relevant to safety at sea. Among such standards is one for the Electronic Chart Dis- play and Information System (ECDIS), the digital display deemed the operational and legal equivalent of the conventional paper chart.

Texts of the various conventions and recommendations, as well as a catalog and publications on other subjects, are available from the Publications Section of the IMO at 4 Al- bert Embankment, London SE1 7SR, United Kingdom.

125. The International Association Of Lighthouse Authorities

The International Association of Lighthouse Au- thorities (IALA) brings together representatives of the aids

to navigation services of more than 80 member countries for technical coordination, information sharing, and coordi- nation of improvements to visual aids to navigation throughout the world. It was established in 1957 to provide a permanent organization to support the goals of the Tech- nical Lighthouse Conferences, which had been convening since 1929. The General Assembly of IALA meets about every 4 years. The Council of 20 members meets twice a year to oversee the ongoing programs.

Five technical committees maintain the permanent programs:

• The Marine Marking Committee • The Radionavigation Systems Committee • The Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) Committee • The Reliability Committee • The Documentation Committee

IALA committees provide important documentation to the IHO and other international organizations, while the IALA Secretariat acts as a clearing house for the exchange of technical information, and organizes seminars and tech- nical support for developing countries.

Its principle work since 1973 has been the implemen- tation of the IALA Maritime Buoyage System, described in Chapter 5, Visual Aids to Navigation. This system replaced some 30 dissimilar buoyage systems in use throughout the world with 2 major systems.

IALA is based near Paris, France in Saint-Germaine- en-Laye.

126. The Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services

The Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services is a non-profit organization which serves as a fo- cal point for the exchange of information and the development of recommendations and standards related to all aspects of maritime telecommunications.

Specifically, RTCM:

• Promotes ideas and exchanges information on mari- time telecommunications.

• Facilitates the development and exchange of views among government, business, and the public.

• Conducts studies and prepares reports on maritime telecommunications issues to improve efficiency and capabilities.

• Suggests minimum essential rules and regulations for effective telecommunications.

• Makes recommendations on important issues. • Pursues other activities as permitted by its by-laws

and membership.

Both government and non-government organizations are members, including many from foreign nations. The or-



ganization consists of a Board of Directors, the Assembly consisting of all Members, Officers, staff, technical advi- sors, and standing and special committees.

Working committees are formed as needed to develop of- ficial RTCM recommendations regarding technical standards and policies in the maritime field. Currently committees exist for maritime safety information, electronic charts, emergency position-indicating radiobeacons (EPIRB’ s) and personal lo- cator beacons, survival craft telecommunications, differential GPS, and GLONASS. Ad hoc committees address short-term concerns such as regulatory proposals.

RTCM headquarters is in Washington D.C.

127. The National Marine Electronic Association

The National Marine Electronic Association (NMEA) is a professional trade association founded in

1957 whose purpose is to coordinate the efforts of marine electronics manufacturers, technicians, government agen- cies, ship and boat builders, and other interested groups. In addition to certifying marine electronics technicians and professionally recognizing outstanding achievements by corporate and individual members, the NMEA sets stan- dards for the exchange of digital data by all manufacturers of marine electronic equipment. This allows the configura- tion of integrated navigation system using equipment from different manufacturers.

NMEA works closely with RTCM and other private organizations and with government agencies to monitor the status of laws and regulations affecting the marine electron- ics industry.

It also sponsors conferences and seminars, and pub- lishes a number of guides and periodicals for members and the general public.

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