BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
THERE seems to be great confusion in Solomon Islands about SIMSA’s role in connection with Search and Rescue (SAR).
Solomon Islands Maritime and Safety Administration (SIMSA) Acting Director Captain Tim Harris explained that SIMSA is not the Marine Division.
“SIMSA does not physically go looking for people lost at sea. SIMSA co-ordinates other people who are already at sea to look for people or ships in distress by using electronic means to assess the weather, currents, tides and their effect on different sized ‘targets’ in the water,” said the Captain.
“This has been shown throughout the world to provide a more cost effective and speedier recovery.”
He further explained that there is no difference between the ways that Solomon Islands co-ordinate SAR when compared to PNG, Australia, New Caledonia or anywhere else in the world for that matter.
“Every maritime nation has a Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC).
“It is part of the mandatory requirements for Member States of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) that are signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).
“The difference is that wealthy nations such as Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom also have dedicated Search and Rescue assets in nearly all their main ports, or a Coastguard (United States of America) that can be mobilised for SAR at short notice.
“They also have helicopters strategically located around their shores that can be mobilised for emergencies at short notice.
“The ‘assets’ for MRCC in nations such as Solomon Islands are nearly all electronic and to do with communications such as radio, Digital Selective Calling, GMDSS [automatic radio alarm]and SARMAP, etc.”