Australia implements best practice standards for international shipping and marine environment protection. Australia has an interest in ensuring that the ships visiting our ports and transiting our waters are seaworthy, have competent crews, and are able to safely navigate through our sensitive marine areas. It is therefore important that Australia continues to exercise influence over the standard of ships of our trading partners, of major flag states, and of ships transiting our own or neighbouring waters.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is the United Nations agency with responsibility for setting and maintaining international ship safety standards. It develops and maintains a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping and its remit includes safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical cooperation, maritime security, and the efficiency of shipping. Australia plays a key role at IMO as a founding member and elected representative on the 40-member IMO governing Council for more than 45 years.
Australia was re-elected to the IMO Council at the IMO’s 29th Assembly meeting in November 2015. Another noteworthy component of Australia’s engagement with the IMO is the involvement of AMSA’s General Manager of Navigation Safety and International Relations as the elected Chairman of the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee from the beginning of 2016.
Australia maintains permanent representation to the IMO in London through the Hon. Alexander Downer AC, Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.
Mr Downer is supported by one of AMSA’s staff as the Alternate Permanent Representative to the IMO.
In addition to being re-elected to IMO Council, some examples of our achievements at the IMO in 2015-16 are:
Each year the IMO holds an award ceremony for Exceptional Bravery at Sea. The ceremony honours those who display outstanding courage while attempting to save life at sea or to prevent damage to the marine environment.
Australia nominated the Master and crew of the MV Lars Maersk, a 267-metre Danish-flagged vessel which responded to AMSA’s request to assist with the rescue of a lone Australian sailor aboard the Enya II on 4 September 2014. The Enya II called for assistance after experiencing a significant fuel leak and damage to the main sail and boom. During the course of the rescue, the yachtsman went overboard in treacherous sea conditions and total darkness. The Master and crew of the Lars Maersk worked for over three hours to retrieve him from the water. Able Seaman Somera from the Philippines risked his own life by going down the gangway alone and in total darkness to retrieve the yachtsman from the water, shielding him from the elements with his own body while helping him aboard.
Following assessment by a special panel at the IMO, Able Seaman Mr Vicente Somera was chosen to receive a Certificate of Commendation for his role in this rescue.
The International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) is a non-profit international technical association which brings together marine aids to navigation authorities, manufacturers, consultants and scientific and training institutes from across the globe to exchange and compare experiences to improve and harmonise aids to navigation services world-wide.
AMSA is one of the 22 National Members elected to the Council of the IALA. Our specialists are represented at all four IALA technical committees, as well as IALA’s Legal Advisory Panel. Our officers are the current Vice Chairs of two technical committees – the Aids to Navigation Engineering and Sustainability Committee and the Vessel Traffic Services Committee.
During the year our legal officers provided assistance to IALA with reviewing the organisation’s secretariat functions and their proposed move to an International Intergovernmental Organisation.
We continued to work closely with the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development and other Australian Government aviation agencies to fulfil Australia’s obligations as a signatory to the Convention on International Civil Aviation and as a Council member of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). This involves the provision of an aeronautical search and rescue (SAR) service, aeronautical SAR expertise and advice, and assistance in progressing ICAO’s major initiatives.
Australia has been a member of ICAO’s governing Council since its formation in 1947 and is involved in more than 60 ICAO committees, panels and study groups dealing with a broad cross-section of aviation matters, including being a member of the ICAO Air Navigation Commission.
Our key achievements at ICAO in 2015-16 are detailed below.
We continued our leadership towards improved measures for regional search and rescue services in the region through chairing this task force. Since its establishment in 2012, the task force has contributed significantly to raising the profile of SAR issues within the region, including the development of a regional SAR plan to assist with improving regional capability.
The task force has evolved into the Asia/Pacific SAR Working Group and while no longer chairing we continue to play an active role in its activities. The group reports to the ICAO Asia/Pacific Air Navigation Planning and Implementation Group and an Air Traffic Management Sub-Group, in which we also participate as a member of the Australian delegation.
ICAO/IMO Joint Working Group on Harmonization of Aeronautical and Maritime SAR
We maintained our status as one of eight Aeronautical SAR Members of this joint working group. This group assists ICAO and IMO in developing provisions regarding new SAR techniques and procedures where both aeronautical and maritime interests are involved, including the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue Manual.
At the beginning of 2015, a jointly funded initiative by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development and AMSA saw the secondment of an AMSA SAR technical expert to ICAO Headquarters in Canada for two years.
The secondment was welcomed by ICAO, which now provides the global aeronautical SAR community with a fulltime expert dedicated to addressing worldwide SAR system issues based on key recommendations following the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.