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7 July 2003, 10:14 am
IMO - Navigation Sub-Committee
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International Regulations

ISAF was represented at the meeting the IMO Safety of Navigation Sub-Committee (NAV) that was held in London from 30 June to 4 July. NAV deals with a wide range of navigation issues at a technical level.
Topics of particular relevance to recreational craft at this session included a wide range of Ships Routing measures, Traffic Separation Schemes, Areas to avoid and Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas. These included Schemes in Australia to protect the Great Barrier Reef, off Cape Finisterre in Spain, off Trieste in the Adriatic, in the Arabian Gulf and off Singapore. These were examined to ensure that they would create minimal interference to navigation by Recreational craft.

Probably of greater significance to yachtsmen was the draft of a new Performance Standard for Radar Reflectors submitted by the UK and Germany following an extensive programme of tests conducted in the Baltic and off the Orkney Islands. Carriage of a Radar Reflector is, in certain circumstances, mandatory under the recent amendments to SOLAS Chapter V. The existing standard is many years old and is considered inadequate for the requirements of modern commercial shipping which increasingly relies on Radar. It is important that it can detect small craft at the earliest moment. The tests showed that, to provide a consistent response for modern ARPA radar set, the Radar Cross-section needs to be 7.5 m2 in the X band and 0.5m2 in the S-Band when mounted at 4 metres. The standard requires that the Performance standard should be maintained through angles of heel of up to 200.

ISAF was concerned that the new standard should neither require the carriage of Reflectors that were unwieldy in weight and size nor replacement of reflectors currently fitted to boats.

IMO accepted the size parameters suggested by ISAF, a maximum weight of 5kg and volume of 0.05 m3 when mounted at 4 metres, which should present no stability problems under the EU RCD. The standard now provides for a proportionate reduction in weight/mass for Reflectors mounted at greater height. Reflectors mounted at lower levels should have larger RCS and consequently would be larger in mass and weight. This may cause significant problems for very small craft and carriage would be impracticable; these concerns were noted in the NAV report. Proposals for gimbals contained in earlier drafts have been dropped.

The proposed new standard is subject to final confirmation by the IMO Marine Safety Committee in May 2004. It will apply to all reflectors fitted after 1mJuly 2005. Any reflectors fitted before that date will continue to apply the existing standard.

NAV dealt with a wide range of other topics chiefly of significance to merchant ships including the draft of a Performance standard for Radar Sets to be fitted to ships subject to the carriage requirements in the SOLAS convention.
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