E-Bulletin March 2024

Activities from Associate Members

European Maritime Safety Agency


EMSA Pollution Response Services

The Lisbon-based EMSA has now issued its Drills and Exercises Annual Report 2020 which can be downloaded from the EMSA website at:

Here are statistics, considerations and conclusions related to the activities of EMSA pollution response services consisting of a network of stand-by oil spill response vessels, equipment assistance service (including specialised stand-alone equipment), and dispersant stockpiles as well as the MAR-ICE network of chemical experts.

From the beginning of 2020 the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic led to travel and border restrictions, including a massive disruption to flight operations as well as to the establishment of special public health and safety measures across Europe. In spite of the difficult circumstances, the level of service remained high thanks to close cooperation with the service providers and frequent video-conferencing. Except for the significantly lower number of operational and notification exercises arranged by member states, the number and results of events performed by EMSA services remained at a similar level to 2019.


Two more valuable publications have now been issued: EMSA Facts and Figures 2020 at 44-pages is a shortened account of the Consolidated Annual Activity Report which details how EMSA has implemented the annual tasks set out in its work programme and this edition contains the first overview of EMSA’s work under its five-year strategy (2020-2024).

Overshadowing all activities in 2020 was the Covid-19 pandemic and through the year work in EMSA, as with that of the maritime community, continued at an increased pace. As lockdowns spread the shipping industry showed its resilience and its strength, delivering vital supplies and helping to drive global trade. In EMSA, staff continue to give full support to the maritime sector, and to all who use its services.

The second publication is the eight-page EMSA’s Preliminary Annual Overview of Marine Casualties and Incidents 2014-2020 based on EMSA’s activities in the field of accident investigation. EMSA’s role begins with support to the accident investigation bodies of the Member States, but goes much further. At the heart of EMSA’s support role is the European Marine Casualty Information Platform (EMCIP), the database of accidents that has been contributed to by the accident investigation bodies since 2011.


European Space Agency

Vega’s first launch this year

At 0250 BST on 29 April (0350 CEST) Vega lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on flight VV18 to deliver into two separate orbits the Earth observation satellite Pléiades Neo-3 and five auxiliary payloads.

On this flight, Vega made use of part of its ESA-developed Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) multiple payload adapter. The SSMS is a modular lightweight carbon-fibre structure, which can accommodate multiple light satellites with a mass of 1-500 kg. The flexibility of the SSMS system allows spare capacity on Vega to be used to launch small satellites with the main customer payload. Using more than one burn of the upper stage means that they can be delivered into different orbits.

Europe’s first use of the SSMS was a rideshare mission in September last year, carrying 53 small satellites. This demonstrated Vega’s new service to offer affordable routine access to space for multiple light satellites.

With a lift-off mass of 920 kg, Earth observation satellite Pléiades Neo-3 was the first to be released into its target Sun-synchronous orbit about 54 minutes into the mission. This was followed about 47 minutes later by the coordinated release of Norway’s Norsat-3 microsatellite and four CubeSats: Bravo, two Lemur-2 satellites and Tyvak-128A.

Complying with debris regulations to help keep space clean, Vega’s upper stage fired a final time to ensure direct re-entry and burn up high in the atmosphere over the ocean.

The Vega launch system is Europe’s way of launching light satellites to multiple orbits in a single launch. Following the loss of Vega’s previous mission, flight VV17, an Independent Inquiry Commission appointed by Arianespace and ESA, formulated a road map for a robust Vega return to flight.

Photo: ESA/CNES/Arianespace ©

European GNSS Agency

In late April the Agency welcomed a European Parliament statement confirming the political agreement on Space Regulation reached in December 2020 and the creation of the European Union Agency for the Space Programme. This will have the largest budget ever for Space of €14.88 billion, encompassing all EU space activities under one roof and will allow for an effective and efficient contribution to the priorities of the European agenda.

For the period 2021-2027 this will support navigation, earth observation and civil protection projects as part of the aim to strengthen Europe’s strategic autonomy and security and its role in the space sector. It is understood that reappraisal of the EU Space Programme will improve the most important initiatives upon which the bulk of the budget will be allocated: Galileo, Copernicus and the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS)

The programme will finance space security, such as the Space and Situational Awareness (SSA) programme and the new Governmental Satellite Communication initiative (GOVSATCOM) to support border protection, civil protection and humanitarian interventions.

Furthermore, the programme upgrades the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) Agency by expanding its tasks and transforming it into the new EU Agency for the Space Programme.

In the words of rapporteur and MEP Massimiliano Salini: ‘With an ambitious budget of €14.8 billion and a clear governance, the new Space Programme sets the legal framework to foster innovation, to boost the EU industrial competitiveness and strategic autonomy and to secure our technological leadership at global level. As demonstrated during the Covid-19 pandemic, the application of space technologies can be fundamental for the implementation of public policies and in controlling the outbreak through monitoring and tracking services. By creating the conditions for the development of the space upstream and downstream markets, the EU Space economy will play a pivotal role in the recovery of our Union.’


Bahrain-based Middle East Navigation Aids Service (MENAS) has underlined its commitment to boosting safe navigation in the Middle East Gulf by launching an Accredited Training Course (ATO) in partnership with IALA.  The ATO accreditation was awarded after a rigorous process undertaken by Trinity House London under an existing agreement between IALA and Trinity House for training audits.

IALA Marine Aids to Navigation Training Courses have been designed to generate a common approach to aids to navigation (AtoN) training and achieve a high standard approach to its implementation. The courses are delivered according to the IALA World-Wide Academy (WWA) model course syllabus.

Government and semi-government departments within the Gulf Cooperation Council member states will be targeted for the courses, which will start once the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has eased.

The initial delivery will be IALA Level 2 Marine Aids to Navigation Technician courses providing a framework for the training and education of personnel tasked with conducting the installation, servicing, maintenance or replacement of marine aids to navigation and their components.

Subsequently, MENAS will deliver the IALA Level 1 Marine Aids to Navigation Manager course, providing a framework for the training and education of professionals involved in the strategic and operational management of AtoN services. This course covers the fundamental principles of effective AtoN management, with a significant emphasis on the implementation of the IALA standards, to enable coastal states to have suitably qualified professionals to effectively discharge their obligations under the SOLAS Convention.

MENAS, which is a subsidiary of the London-based International Foundation for Aids to Navigation (IFAN), welcomed the move. Mahdi Al Mosawi, General Manager for MENAS, stressed: ‘We are delighted to have developed a course to help provide a universal approach to ensure thorough training and standards are maintained globally.’

Rapporteur: Paul Ridgway

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