The IMO’s Sub-Commitee on Flag State Implementation (FSI) held its 20th session on Monday 26 through Friday 30 March 2012 under the Chairmanship of Captain Dwain Hutchinson (Bahamas) and Vice Chairman, Ms Julie Gascon (Canada); both were elected for a further year during the meeting. A Drafting Group on ‘Harmonisation of Port State Control Activities’ was formed, together with three Working Groups viz (1) Casualty Analysis (2) Review of the Survey Guidelines under the HSSC and the Annexes to the Code for the Implementation of Mandatory IMO Instruments, and (3) the Development of a Code for Recognised Organisations. Following is a short summary of salient points emanating from the meeting on items most relevant to Intermanager members:
• MANDATORY REPORTS UNDER MARPOL. 40,056 ships were boarded for Port State control in 2010 whilst the total number of ships detained in port or denied entry for MARPOL violations was 574, or 1.4% of those boarded. Discrepancies were reported for 560 ships under the IOPP Certificate, 1642 for Oil Record Book and 1,350 ships for MARPOL equipment. There were many reports of alleged inadequacies of reception facilities that arose in 2010 but no indication to date as to any improvement in the situation. The closing date for the receipt of mandatory reports for the year 2011 is 30 September 2012.
• GUIDELINES FOR PSCO’S ON CERTIFICATION OF SEAFARERS’ REST HOURS. Draft guidelines for Port State Control officers related to the ISM code were approved for further technical review at the next session. This includes ‘Certification of Seafarers’ rest hours based on the relevant provisions of the STCW Convention and manning requirements from the flag State. It will take account of the 2010 Manila Amendments to the STCW Convention and Code incorporating the revised requirement on hours of rest. These enter into force in 2012, prior to MLC 2006 which has currently been ratified by 25 ILO Member States, thus requiring a further 5 and which must then also result in a total share of at least 33 per cent of the world’s gross tonnage. MLC 2006 comes into force 12 months after ratification.
• CONCENTRATED INSPECTION CAMPAIGNS (CIC’s). There was no support for conducting global CIC’s. However the Sub-Committee invited PSC regimes to hold CIC’s in cooperation with other MOU’s.
• DEVELOPMENT OF GUIDELINES ON PSC UNDER THE 2004 BWM CONVENTION. Since FSI 19, a further six States have acceded to the BWM Convention bringing the number of Contracting Governments to 33, representing 26.46 per cent of world tonnage. However, MEPC 61 agreed to extend the target completion date for developing Guidelines on port State control under the Convention to 2013. Importantly, BLG 16 progressed the work on developing a BWM circular concerning the vitally important BW sampling and analysis which will continue at BLG 17.
• LOW NUMBER OF RATIFICATIONS OF KEY INTERNATIONAL MARITIME INSTRUMENTS. BAHAMAS made the most telling contribution in this fairly extensive debate, saying that Conventions are pushed through too quickly, quoting the HNS Convention as a case in point, also the current problems associated with the Ballast Water Convention where a ‘sampling procedure’ could not be agreed, neither is there any likelihood of agreement. Another example quoted was that of the Wreck Convention which is not at all relevant to many States and thus not ratified. The dictum “is it right and is it relevant” was quoted. Member States were encouraged by the Chairman to communicate their preparatory work to the IMO Secretariat en route to intended Convention ratification.
• REPORTING PROCEDURE ON THE RESULTS OF EVALUATION OF EXISTING LIFEBOAT RELEASE AND RETRIEVAL SYSTEMS. The working group considered the concerns expressed by IACS on the reporting procedure for evaluation and replacement of lifeboat release and retrieval systems. In their view, the factual statement issued by the manufacturer or its representative, provides sufficient evidence to interested parties, that the one-time follow up overhaul examination of a compliant type, has been completed satisfactorily.
• DEVELOPMENT OF A CODE FOR RECOGNISED ORGANISATIONS. A draft III (IMO Instrument Implementation) Code was agreed for submission to MEPC 64 and MSC 91 with a phase-in proposal of making the Code mandatory. Proposals by the EU bloc to amend the draft RO Code, in particular to make part III of the Code and mutual assistance between flag States mandatory, were not supported. Neither were their proposals supported to ensure that flag States recognise only these organisations which meet the RO Code to establish strong requirements for RO independence, impartiality and liability indemnity, protection of yards and equipment manufacturers’ IPR’s or protection of confidentiality and sustainability of documentation of interest to the flag State. It was also decided that there is no need for intersessional work to be carried out with regard to development of the RO Code.
• CASUALITY ANALYSIS. A feedback mechanism from respective analysts to the authors’ of marine accident investigation reports with a view to enhancing performance was approved. In addition to the group’s recommendation that GISIS casualty data be improved, administrators will be invited to address the issue of potential delay in entering of casualty investigation report data or its complete non-entry, owing to concerns that the information gained from safety investigations might be used for the purposes of litigation. Note was taken of the information regarding the very serious marine casualty on DEEP WATER HORIZON, also on the availability, in GISIS Marine Casualties and incidents, of the marine safety investigation reports completed by the Marshall Islands and the United States. Finally the Correspondence Group on Casualty Analysis was re-established.
Captain Paddy McKnight