Amendments to the International
Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue of 27 April 1979
(London, 18 May 1998)
THE MARITIME SAFETY COMMITTEE,
RECALLING Article 28(b) of the Convention
on the International Maritime Organization concerning the functions of
RECALLING FURTHER Article III(2)(f)
of the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, 1979, hereinafter
referred to as "the Convention", concerning the procedures for amending
the Annex to the Convention, other than the provisions of paragraphs 2.1.4,
2.1.5, 2.1.7, 2.1.10, 3.1.2 or 3.1.3 thereof,
HAVING CONSIDERED, at its sixty-ninth
session, amendments to the Convention proposed and circulated in accordance
with Article III(2)(a) thereof,
1. ADOPTS, in accordance with Article
III(2)(c) of the Convention, amendments to the Convention, the text of
which is set out in the Annex to the present Resolution;
2. DETERMINES, in accordance with Article
III(2)(f) of the Convention, that the amendments shall be deemed to have
been accepted on 1 July 1999, unless, prior to that date, more than one
third of the Parties, have notified their objections to the amendments;
3. INVITES Parties to the Convention
to note that, in accordance with Article III(2)(h) of the Convention, the
amendments shall enter into force on 1 January 2000 upon their acceptance
in accordance with paragraph 2 above;
4. REQUESTS the Secretary-General,
in conformity with Article III(2)(d) of the Convention, to transmit certified
copies of the present Resolution and the text of the amendments contained
in the Annex to all Parties to the Convention;
5. FURTHER REQUESTS the Secretary-General
to transmit copies of this Resolution and its Annex to Members of the Organization,
which are not Parties to the Convention.
AMENDMENTS TO THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
ON MARITIME SEARCH AND RESCUE, 1979
The existing text of the Annex to the Convention,
except paragraphs 2.1.4, 2.1.5, 2.1.7, 2.1.10, 3.1.2 and 3.1.3 is replaced
by the following:
TERMS AND DEFINITIONS
1.1 "Shall" is used in the Annex to indicate
a provision, the uniform application of which by all Parties is required
in the interest of safety of life at sea.
1.2 "Should" is used in the Annex to indicate
a provision, the uniform application of which by all Parties is recommended
in the interest of safety of life at sea.
1.3 The terms listed below are used in the
Annex with the following meanings:
.1 "Search". An operation, normally coordinated
by a rescue coordination centre or rescue sub-centre, using available personnel
and facilities to locate persons in distress;
.2 "Rescue". An operation to retrieve persons
in distress, provide for their initial medical or other needs, and deliver
them to a place of safety;
.3 "Search and rescue service". The performance
of distress monitoring, communication, coordination and search and rescue
functions, including provision of medical advice, initial medical assistance,
or medical evacuation, through the use of public and private resources
including cooperating aircraft, vessels and other craft and installations;
.4 "Search and rescue region". An area of
defined dimensions associated with a rescue coordination centre within
which search and rescue services are provided;
.5 "Rescue coordination centre". A unit responsible
for promoting efficient organization of search and rescue services and
for coordinating the conduct of search and rescue operations within a search
and rescue region;
.6 "Rescue sub-centre". A unit subordinate
to a rescue coordination centre established to complement the latter according
to particular provisions of the responsible authorities;
.7 "Search and rescue facility". Any mobile
resource, including designated search and rescue units, used to conduct
search and rescue operations;
.8 "Search and rescue unit". A unit composed
of trained personnel and provided with equipment suitable for the expeditious
conduct of search and rescue operations;
.9 "Alerting post". Any facility intended
to serve as an intermediary between a person reporting an emergency and
a rescue coordination centre or rescue sub-centre;
.10 "Emergency phase". A generic term meaning,
as the case may be, uncertainty phase, alert phase or distress phase;
.11 "Uncertainty phase". A situation wherein
uncertainty exists as to the safety of a person, a vessel or other craft;
.12 "Alert phase". A situation wherein apprehension
exists as to the safety of a person, a vessel or other craft;
.13 "Distress phase". A situation wherein
there is a reasonable certainty that a person, a vessel or other craft
is threatened by grave and imminent danger and requires immediate assistance;
.14 "On-scene coordinator". A person designated
to coordinate search and rescue operations within a specified area;
.15 "Secretary-General". The Secretary-General
of the International Maritime Organization.
ORGANIZATION AND COORDINATION
2.1 Arrangements for provision and coordination
of search and rescue services
2.1.1 Parties shall, as they are able to do
so individually or in cooperation with other States and, as appropriate,
with the Organization, participate in the development of search and rescue
services to ensure that assistance is rendered to any person in distress
at sea. On receiving information that any person is, or appears to be,
in distress at sea, the responsible authorities of a Party shall take urgent
steps to ensure that the necessary assistance is provided.
2.1.2 Parties shall, either individually or,
if appropriate, in cooperation with other States, establish the following
basic elements of a search and rescue service:
.1 legal framework;
.2 assignment of a responsible authority;
.3 organisation of available resources;
.4 communication facilities;
.5 coordination and operational functions;
.6 processes to improve the service including
planning, domestic and international cooperative relationships and training.
Parties shall, as far as practicable, follow
relevant minimum standards and guidelines developed by the Organization.
2.1.3 To help ensure the provision of adequate
shore-based communication infrastructure, efficient distress alert routeing,
and proper operational coordination to effectively support search and rescue
services, Parties shall, individually or in cooperation with other States,
ensure that sufficient search and rescue regions are established within
each sea area in accordance with paragraphs 2.1.4 and 2.1.5. Such regions
should be contiguous and, as far as practicable, not overlap.
2.1.6 Agreement on the regions or arrangements
referred to in paragraphs 2.1.4 and 2.1.5 shall be recorded by the Parties
concerned, or in written plans accepted by the Parties.
2.1.8 Parties should seek to promote consistency,
where applicable, between their maritime and aeronautical search and rescue
services while considering the establishment of maritime search and rescue
regions which shall be established by agreement in accordance with paragraph
2.1.4 or the reaching of agreement upon appropriate arrangements in accordance
with paragraph 2.1.5.
2.1.9 Parties having accepted responsibility
to provide search and rescue services for a specified area shall use search
and rescue units and other available facilities for providing assistance
to a person who is, or appears to be, in distress at sea.
2.1.11 Parties shall forward to the Secretary-General
information on their search and rescue service, including the:
.1 nationality authority responsible for the
maritime search and rescue services;
.2 location of the established rescue coordination
centres or other centres providing search and rescue coordination, for
the search and rescue region or regions and communications therein;
.3 limits of their search and rescue region
or regions and the coverage provided by their shore based distress and
safety communication facilities; and
.4 principal types of available search and
Parties shall with priority, update the information
provided with respect to any alterations of importance. The Secretary-General
shall transmit to all Parties the information received.
2.1.12 The Secretary-General shall notify
all Parties of the agreements or arrangements referred to in paragraphs
2.1.4 and 2.1.5.
2.2 Development of national search and rescue
2.2.1 Parties shall establish appropriate
national procedures for overall development, coordination, and improvement
of search and rescue services.
2.2.2 To support efficient search and rescue
operations, Parties shall:
.1 ensure the coordinated use of available
.2 establish close cooperation between services
and organizations which may contribute to improve the search and rescue
service in areas such as operations, planning, training, exercises and
research and development.
2.3 Establishment of rescue coordination centres
and rescue sub-centres
2.3.1 To meet the requirements of paragraph
2.2, Parties shall individually or in cooperation with other States establish
rescue coordination centres for their search and rescue services and such
rescue sub-centres as they consider appropriate.
2.3.2 Each rescue coordination centre and
rescue sub-centre, established in accordance with paragraph 2.3.1, shall
arrange for the receipt of distress alerts originating from within its
search and rescue region. Every such centre shall also arrange for communications
with persons in distress, with search and rescue facilities, and with other
rescue coodination centres or rescue sub-centres.
2.3.3 Each rescue coordination centre shall
be operational on a 24-hour basis and be constantly staffed by trained
personnel having a working knowledge of the English language.
2.4 Coordination with aeronautical services
2.4.1 Parties shall ensure the closest practicable
coordination between maritime and aeronautical services so as to provide
for the most effective and efficient search and rescue services in and
over their search and rescue regions.
2.4.2 Whenever practicable, each Party should
establish joint rescue coordination centres and rescue sub-centres to serve
both maritime and aeronautical purposes.
2.4.3 Whenever separate maritime and aeronautical
rescue coordination centres or rescue sub-centres are established to serve
the same area, the Party concerned shall ensure the closest practicable
coordination between the centres or sub-centres.
2.4.4 Parties shall ensure as far as is possible
the use of common procedures by search and rescue units established for
maritime purposes and those established for aeronautical purposes.
2.5 Designation of search and rescue facilities
Parties shall identify all facilities able
to participate in search and rescue operations, and may designate suitable
facilities as search and rescue units.
2.6 Equipment of search and rescue units
2.6.1 Each search and rescue unit shall be
provided with equipment appropriate to its task.
2.6.2 Containers and packages containing survival
equipment for dropping to survivors should have the general nature of their
contents indicated by markings in accordance with standards adopted by
COOPERATION BETWEEN STATES
3.1 Cooperation between States
3.1.1 Parties shall coordinate their search
and rescue organizations and should, whenever necessary, coordinate search
and rescue operations with those of neighbouring States.
3.1.4 The responsible authorities of Parties
.1 immediately acknowledge the receipt of
such a request; and
.2 as soon as possible indicate the conditions,
if any, under which the projected mission may be undertaken.
3.1.5 Parties should enter into agreements
with neighbouring States setting forth the conditions for entry of each
other's search and rescue units into or over their respective territorial
sea or territory. These agreements should also provide for expediting entry
of such units with the least possible formalities.
3.1.6 Each Party should authorize its rescue
.1 to request from other rescue coordination
centres such assistance, including vessels, aircraft, personnel or equipment,
as may be needed;
.2 to grant any necessary permission for the
entry of such vessels, aircraft, personnel or equipment into or over its
territorial sea or territory; and
.3 to make the necessary arrangements with
the appropriate customs, immigration, health or other authorities with
a view to expediting such entry.
3.1.7 Each Party shall ensure that its rescue
coordination centres provide, when requested, assistance to other rescue
coordination centres, including assistance in the form of vessels, aircraft,
personnel or equipment.
3.1.8 Parties should enter into agreements
with other States, where appropriate, to strengthen search and rescue cooperation
and coordination. Parties shall authorize their responsible authority to
make operational plans and arrangements for search and rescue cooperation
and coordination with responsible authorities of other States.
4.1 Preparatory measures
4.1.1 Each rescue coordination centre and
rescue sub-centre shall have available up-to-date information especially
concerning search and rescue facilities and available communications relevant
to search and rescue operations in its area.
4.1.2 Each rescue coordination centre and
rescue sub-centre should have ready access to information regarding the
position, course and speed of vessels within its area which may be able
to provide assistance to persons, vessels or other craft in distress at
sea, and regarding how to contact them. This information should either
be kept in the rescue coordination centre, or be readily obtainable when
4.1.3 Each rescue coordination centre and
rescue sub-centre shall have detailed plans of operation for the conduct
of search and rescue operations. Where appropriate, these plans shall be
developed jointly with the representatives of those who may assist in providing,
or who may benefit from, the search and rescue services.
4.1.4 Rescue coordination centres or sub-centres
shall be kept informed of the state of preparedness of search and rescue
4.2 Information concerning emergencies
4.2.1 Parties, either individually or in cooperation
with other States shall ensure that they are capable on a 24-hour basis
of promptly and reliably receiving distress alerts from equipment used
for this purpose within their search and rescue regions. Any alerting post
receiving a distress alert shall:
.1 immediately relay the alert to the appropriate
rescue coordination centre or sub-centre, and then assist with search and
rescue communications as appropriate; and
.2 if practicable acknowledge the alert.
4.2.2 Parties shall, where appropriate, ensure
that effective arrangements are in place for the registration of communication
equipment and for responding to emergencies, to enable any rescue coordination
centre or sub-centre to access pertinent registration information quickly.
4.2.3 Any authority or element of the search
and rescue service having reason to believe that a person, a vessel or
other craft is in a state of emergency shall forward as soon as possible
all available information to the rescue coordination centre or rescue sub-centre
4.2.4 Rescue coordination centres and rescue
sub-centres shall, immediately upon receipt of information concerning a
person, a vessel, or other craft in a state of emergency, evaluate such
information and determine the phase of emergency in accordance with paragraph
4.4, and the extent of operations required.
4.3 Initial action
Any search and rescue unit receiving information
of a distress incident shall initially take immediate action if in the
position to assist and shall, in any case without delay, notify the rescue
coordination centre or rescue sub-centre in whose area the incident has
4.4 Emergency phases
To assist in determining the appropriate operating
procedures, the following emergency phases shall be distinguished by the
rescue coordination centre or sub-centre concerned:
.1 Uncertainty phase:
.1.1 when a person has been reported as missing,
or a vessel or other craft is overdue; or
.1.2 when a person, a vessel or other craft
has failed to make an expected position or safety report.
.2 Alert phase:
.2.1 when, following the uncertainty phase,
attempts to establish contact with a person, a vessel or other craft have
failed and inquiries addressed to other appropriate sources have been unsuccessful;
.2.2 when information has been received indicating
that the operating efficiency of a vessel or other craft is impaired, but
not to the extent that a distress situation is likely.
.3 Distress phase:
.3.1 when positive information is received
that a person, a vessel or other craft is in danger and in need of immediate
.3.2 when, following the alert phase, further
unsuccessful attempts to establish contact with a person, a vessel or other
craft and more widespread unsuccessful inquiries point to the probability
that a distress situation exists; or
.3.3 when information is received which indicates
that the operating efficiency of a vessel or other craft has been impaired
to the extent that a distress situation is likely.
4.5 Procedures to be followed by rescue coordination
centres and rescue sub-centres during emergency phases
4.5.1 Upon the declaration of the uncertainty
phase, the rescue coordination centre or rescue sub-centre, as appropriate,
shall initiate inquiries to determine the safety of a person, a vessel
or other craft, or shall declare the alert phase.
4.5.2 Upon the declaration of the alert phase,
the rescue coordination centre or rescue sub-centre, as appropriate, shall
extend inquiries for the missing person, vessel or other craft, alert appropriate
search and rescue services and initiate such action, as is necessary in
the light of the circumstances of the particular case.
4.5.3 Upon the declaration of the distress
phase, the rescue coordination centre or rescue sub-centre, as appropriate,
shall proceed as prescribed in its plans of operation, as required by paragraph
4.5.4 Initiation of search and rescue operations
when the position of the search object is unknown.
In the event of an emergency phase being declared
for a search object whose position is unknown, the following shall apply:
.1 when an emergency phase exists, a rescue
coordination centre or rescue sub-centre shall, unless it is aware that
other centres are taking action, assume responsibility for initiating suitable
action and confer with other centres with the objective of designating
one centre to assume responsibility;
.2 unless otherwise decided by agreement between
the centres concerned, the centre to be designated shall be the centre
responsible for the area in which the search object was according to its
last reported position; and
.3 after the declaration of the distress phase,
the centre coordinating the search and rescue operations shall, as appropriate,
inform other centres of all the circumstances of the emergency and of all
4.5.5 Passing information to persons, vessels,
or other craft for which an emergency phase has been declared.
Whenever possible, the rescue coordination
centre or rescue sub-centre responsible for search and rescue operations
shall forward to the person, a vessel or other craft for which an emergency
phase has been declared, information on the search and rescue operations
it has initiated.
4.6 Coordination when two or more Parties
For search and rescue operations involving
more than one Party, each Party shall take appropriate action in accordance
with the plans of operation referred to in paragraph 4.1 when so requested
by the rescue coordination centre of the region.
4.7 On-scene coodination of search and rescue
4.7.1 The activities of search and rescue
units and other facilities engaged in search and rescue operations shall
be coordinated on-scene to ensure the most effective results.
4.7.2 When multiple facilities are about to
engage in search and rescue operations, and the rescue coordination centre
or rescue sub-centre considers it necessary, the most capable person should
be designated as on-scene coordinator as early as practicable and preferably
before the facilities arrive within the specified area of operation. Specific
responsibilities shall be assigned to the on-scene coordinator taking into
account the apparent capabilities of the on-scene coordinator and operational
4.7.3 If there is no responsible rescue coordination
centre or, by any reason, the responsible rescue coordination centre is
unable to coordinate the search and rescue mission, the facilities involved
should designate an on-scene coordinator by mutual agreement.
4.8 Termination and suspension of search and
4.8.1 Search and rescue operations shall continue,
when practicable, until all reasonable hope of rescuing survivors has passed.
4.8.2 The responsible rescue coordination
centre or rescue sub-centre concerned shall normally decide when to discontinue
search and rescue operations. If no such centre is involved in coordinating
the operations, the on-scene coordinator may take this decision.
4.8.3 When a rescue coordination centre or
rescue sub-centre considers, on the basis of reliable information that
a search and rescue operation has been successful, or that the emergency
no longer exists, it shall terminate the search and rescue operation and
promptly so inform any authority, facility or service which has been activated
4.8.4 If a search and rescue operation on-scene
becomes impracticable and the rescue coordination centre or rescue sub-centre
concludes that survivors might still be alive, the centre may temporarily
suspend the on-scene activities pending further developments, and shall
promptly so inform any authority, facility or service which has been activated
or notified. Information subsequently received shall be evaluated and search
and rescue operations resumed when justified on the basis of such information.
SHIP REPORTING SYSTEMS
5.1.1 Ship reporting systems may be established
either individually by Parties or in cooperation with other States, where
this is considered necessary, to facilitate search and rescue operations.
5.1.2 Parties contemplating the institution
of a ship reporting system should take account of the relevant recommendations
of the Organization. Parties should also consider whether existing reporting
systems or other sources of ship position data can provide adequate information
for the region, and seek to minimize unnecessary additional reports by
ships, or the need for rescue coordination centres to check with multiple
reporting systems to determine availability of ships to assist with search
and rescue operations.
5.1.3 The ship reporting system should provide
up-to-date information on the movements of vessels in order, in the event
of a distress incident, to:
.1 reduce the interval between the loss of
contact with a vessel and the initiation of search and rescue operations
in cases where no distress signal has been received;
.2 permit rapid identification of vessels
which may be called upon to provide assistance;
.3 permit delineation of a search area of
limited size in case the position of a person, a vessel or other craft
in distress is unknown or uncertain; and
.4 facilitate the provision of urgent medical
assistance or advice.
5.2 Operational requirements
5.2.1 Ship reporting systems should satisfy
the following requirements:
.1 provision of information, including sailing
plans and position reports, which would make it possible to determine the
current and future positions of participating vessels;
.2 maintenance of a shipping plot;
.3 receipt of reports at appropriate intervals
from participating vessels;
.4 simplicity in system design and operation;
.5 use of internationally agreed standard
ship reporting format and procedures.
5.3 Types of reports
5.3.1 A ship reporting system should incorporate
the following types of ship reports in accordance with the recommendations
of the Organization:
.1 Sailing plan;
.2 Position report; and
.3 Final report.
5.4 Use of systems
5.4.1 Parties should encourage all vessels
to report their position when travelling in areas where arrangements have
been made to collect information on positions for search and rescue purposes.
5.4.2 Parties recording information on the
position of vessels should disseminate, so far as practicable, such information
to other States when so requested for search and rescue purposes."