IAMSAR Manual - Volume II 2016 Edition (IF961E)

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Published Date

July 2016

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IAMSAR Manual - Volume II 2016 Edition (IF961E)

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Volume II assists personnel who plan and co-ordinate SAR operations and exercises. This volume of this edition of the IAMSAR Manual comes into force on 1 July 2016.


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The IAMSAR Manual comprises three volumes, each with specific search and rescue (SAR) system duties in mind, and can be used as a stand-alone document or in conjunction with the other two volumes as a means to attain a full view of the SAR system. The 2016 edition incorporates amendments adopted by ICAO and approved by the IMO Maritime Safety Committee. The 2015 amendments enter into force on 1 July 2016.




Abbreviations and acronyms


Chapter 1 The search and rescue system

    1. System organization

    2. SAR co-ordination

    3. SAR resources

    4. Medical assistance to vessels

    5. Plans of operation

    6. SAR operations stages

    7. Mission documentation

    8. Training and exercises

    9. Improving professionalism

    10. Public relations

    11. Computer resources

    12. Decision and management support

Chapter 2 Communications

2.1 Distress communications

2.2 Aeronautical mobile service

2.3 Maritime radio service

2.4 Modes of emission

2.5 Global Maritime Distress and Safety System

2.6 406 MHz distress beacons, EPIRBs and PLBs

2.7 Satellite communications

2.8 Vessel – aircraft communications

2.9 Survival and emergency radio equipment

2.10 Mobile telephones – satellite and cellular

2.11 Special circumstances

2.12 Communications for SAR operations

2.13 Communication equipment identities

2.14 False alerts

2.15 SAR data providers

2.16 RCC and RSC communications

2.17 Maritime radio telex

2.18 Maritime Safety Information Services

2.19 Broadcast Services

2.20 Radio telegraph

2.21 Phonetic alphabet and figure code

2.22 Spoken emergency signals and procedural words

2.23 On-scene communications

2.24 Electronic positioning

2.25 Codes, signals and standard phrases

2.26 First RCC

2.27 SAR operations communications

2.28 SAR operations messages

2.29 GMDSS Master Plan

2.30 Supplemental capabilities

2.31 Difficulties in contacting vessels

2.32 Unbarring of Inmarsart SESs by RCCs

2.33 Radio call signs for aircraft involved in a search and rescue operation

2.34 Vessel tracking communications

2.35 Additional device considerations

2.36 RCC actions to consider

2.37 Social media

Chapter 3 Awareness and initial action

3.1 General

3.2 SAR stages

3.3 Emergency phases

3.4 Awareness stage

3.5 Initial action stage

3.6 Designation of the RCC or RSC responsible for initiating SAR action

3.7 RCC procedures for requesting SAR facilities

3.8 General considerations for SMC

Chapter 4 Search planning and evaluation concepts

4.1 Overview

4.2 Evaluating the situation

4.3 Estimating the distress incident location

4.4 Survivor motion after the distress incident

4.5 Total probable error of position

4.6 Search planning and evaluation factors

4.7 Optimal search effort allocation

4.8 Computer-based search planning aids

Chapter 5 Search techniques and operations

5.1 Overview

5.2 Selection of search facilities

5.3 Assessing search conditions

5.4 Selecting search patterns

5.5 Visual search patterns

5.6 Electronic search patterns

5.7 Night search patterns

5.8 Land search patterns

5.9 Search object motion

5.10 Assignment of search sub-areas to individual facilities

5.11 Designation and description of search sun-areas

5.12 Planning on-scene co-ordination

5.13 Search action plans

5.14 Conduct of the search

5.15 Briefings

5.16 Aircraft search procedures

5.17 Surface facility search procedures

5.18 Search by land facilities

5.19 Debriefing of search personnel

5.20 Continuation of search

5.21 Geographic referencing

Chapter 6 Rescue planning and operations

6.1 General

6.2 Sighting and subsequent procedures

6.3 Delivery of rescue personnel and equipment

6.4 Supplies and survival equipment

6.5 Supply dropping

6.6 Medical personnel

6.7 Rescue by aircraft

6.8 Rescue by maritime facilities

6.9 Rescue by land facilities

6.10 Use of pararescue teams

6.11 Special requirements at aircraft crash sites

6.12 Ditching assistance

6.13 Rescue of persons from inside damaged, capsized, or ditched craft

6.14 Underwater search and rescue

6.15 Mass rescue operations

6.16 Care of survivors

6.17 Debriefing of survivors

6.18 Handling of deceased persons

6.19 Critical incident stress

6.20 Termination of rescue

Chapter 7 Multiple Aircraft SAR Operations – General Guidance

7.1 Overview

7.2 Area of SAR action

7.3 Aircraft coordinator

7.4 Communications

7.5 Search mission

7.6 Evacuation missions

7.7 Long range operations

7.8 Effects of the environment and weather

Chapter 8 Emergency assistance other than search and rescue

8.1 General

8.2 Intercept and escort services

8.3 Safety information

8.4 Unlawful acts

8.5 Search and rescue outside of RCC responsible areas

8.6 Assistance to property

8.7 Aerodrome emergency plan

Chapter 9 Conclusion of SAR operations

9.1 General

9.2 Closing a SAR case

9.3 Suspending search operations

9.4 Reopening a suspended case

9.5 Final reports

9.6 Performance improvement

9.7 Case studies

9.8 Archiving case files

9.9 Incident debriefings


Appendix A Distress communications

Appendix B Message formats

Appendix C Mass rescue operations: exercises, industry roles and incident management

Appendix D Uncertainty phase data

Appendix E Alert phase data

Appendix F Distress phase checklist

Appendix G Facilities and equipment selection

Appendix H Operation briefing and tasking forms

Appendix I SITREPs and MAREC Code

Appendix J Intercepts

Appendix K Determining datum

Appendix L Search planning and evaluation worksheets

Appendix M Preparing initial probability maps

Appendix N Tables and graphs

Appendix O Ship reporting systems for SAR

Appendix P Functional characteristics to consider with computer-based search planning aids

Appendix Q Sample problem

Appendix R Medical assistance at sea, TMAS – TMAS Medical Information Exchange Form

Appendix S Search planning for 121.5 MHz distress beacon alerts

Appendix T Checklist for multiple aircraft SAR operations


A​​s a specialized agency of the United Nations, IMO is the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping. Its main role is to create a regulatory framework for the shipping industry that is fair and effective, universally adopted and universally implemented.  

In other words, its role is to create a level playing-field so that ship operators cannot address their financial issues by simply cutting corners and compromising on safety, security and environmental performance. This approach also encourages innovation and efficiency.

Shipping is a truly international industry, and it can only operate effectively if the regulations and standards are themselves agreed, adopted and implemented on an international basis. And IMO is the forum at which this process takes place.

Title: IAMSAR Manual - Volume II 2016 Edition (IF961E)
Subtitle: International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue Manual Volume II
Edition: 2016
Number of Pages: 300
Product Code: MM1060K
ISBN: ISBN 13: 9789280116403, ISBN 10: 9280116401
Published Date: July 2016
Binding Format: Hardback
Book Height: 298 mm
Book Width: 210 mm
Book Spine: 20 mm
Weight: 1.30 kg
Author: IMO

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