The IMO’s Committee on Maritime Safety (MSC) held its 92nd session from Wednesday 12 through Friday 21 June 2013 under the Chairmanship of Mr Christian Breinholt (DENMARK) who, together with his Vice Chair (Captain Segar of SINGAPORE), were duty re-elected for a further year, 2014.

Following a welcoming address by the Secretary General of IMO which most notably acknowledged an upsurge in Piracy off the West African coast, allegedly eclipsing the scale of that in the Indian Ocean / Somalia, 3 Working Groups (WG), 1 Drafting Group (DG) and 1 Expert Group (EG) were formed and chaired as follows:

WG1 Passenger Ship Safety, Mr Brad Groves (AUSTRALIA)
WG2 Goal-based new ship construction standards, Mr J Sirkar (USA)
WG3 IMO Review and Reform, Ms S Garduno-Arana (MEXICO)
DG1 Consideration and adoption of Mandatory Instruments, Mr Motonobu Tsuchiya (UK)
EG1 Capacity-building for the Implementation of New Measures, Captain Segar (SINGAPORE)

Following is a selection of salient points of most interest to InterManager members:

• CONSIDERATION AND ADOPTION OF AMENDMENTS TO MANDATORY INSTRUMENTS. Following consideration of DG1’s report, the Committee approved it in general, and in particular adopted:
(1) The Code for Recognised Organisations
(2) The proposed amendments to SOLAS
(3) Amendments to the 1994 and 2000 HSC Codes
(4) Amendments to the ISM and IMSBC Codes
(5) Amendments to the 1972 CSC
(6) Amendments to the Load Lines Protocol

To progress work interesssionally, the Committee established a Correspondence Group on Development of guidance on drafting of amendments to the SOLAS Convention and related mandatory codes, under the coordination of the UK.

• GOAL-BASED NEW SHIP CONSTRUCTION STANDARDS. The Committee endorsed WG2’s recommendation to consider the development of guidelines on the evaluation criteria determination, at a later stage, and also agreed to further consider developing consolidated guidelines for the approval of alternative and equivalent designs. The Committee approved an MSC Circular on such approval of alternatives and equivalents as provided for in various IMO instruments, encouraging Member Governments to provide feedback on experience gained with the application. Member Governments were also invited to submit comments and proposals on the developments of Interim Guidelines for the safety-level approach (SLA) to IMO’s rule-making process for consideration at MSC 93.

• PASSENGER SHIP SAFETY. Following consideration of an extremely thorough report by WG1, the Committee:
(1) Invited ITALY to provide more technical information on penetration depth supporting a recommendation for double-skin to protect WTC’s containing equipment, also that for relocation of the UHF radio switchboard above the bulkhead deck;
(2) Expanded the planned output to revise SOLAS chapter 11-1 subdivision and damage stability regulations to limit the down-flooding points on the bulkhead deck for passenger ships;
(3) Instructed FSI to consider the COSTA CONCORDIA accident investigation report and advise MSC 93 accordingly;
(4) Invited Member Governments and international organisations to submit detailed comments and proposals to MSC93 on the COSTA CONCORDIA official casualty investigation report; and
(5) Invited ITALY to assist both FSI and the MSC WG where necessary.
With regard to ‘evacuation analysis’, FP57 was instructed to consider the mandatory application to non-ro-ro passenger ships and advise MSC93. As to ‘survivability’, the Committee re-established the Formal Safety Assessment (FSA) Expert Group, instructing it to review the ‘EMSA’ and ‘GOALDS’ studies, taking into account the risk models used and report its findings to MSC 93. Finally, the Secretariat, in consultation with the Chairman of the working group, was instructed to revise the long-term action plan with a view to clearly identifying any new committee output that might be necessary arising from the loss of COSTA CONCORDIA.
• DANGEROUS GOODS, SOLID CARGOES AND CONTAINERS. GERMANY has submitted a paper to the STW sub-committee for consideration of matters related to training requirements for fire-fighting when water-reactive materials are involved, With regard to the investigation report on the very serious casualty on board the bulk carrier LA DONNA 1, it was noted that DSC 18 had invited comment and proposals on the matter and had forwarded its outcome to FSI 21.

• FIRE PROTECTION. Draft amendments to chapter 15 of the International Code for Fire Safety Systems (FSS Code) concerning inert gas systems for new ships were approved with a view to adoption at MSC 93. Guidelines for the design, performance, testing and approval of mobile water monitors used for the protection of on-deck cargo areas of ships designed and constructed to carry five or more tiers of containers on or above the weather deck were also approved. The Committee agreed that the survey and certification of fire protection of incinerator and waste stowage spaces should be covered by the SOLAS Convention. Note was taken of the high failure rate of automatic sprinkler systems on passenger ships whilst on test, which matter will be considered at FP 57.

• BULK LIQUIDS AND GASES. Note was taken of progress made on the development of an International Code for Ships using Gas as Fuel (IGF Code). However, a USA proposal that diesel fuel with a flashpoint between 52oC and 60oC should be excluded from the scope of the Code did not find favour. In agreeing draft amendments to the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (IGC Code), the Committee stipulated that the IGC revisions should not set a precedent for the content of the IGF Code. Further, the relationship between the IGC Code and the IGF Code will be considered once the latter is finalised.

• TRAINING AND WATCHKEEPING. The Committee approved a draft Assembly resolution on Recommendations for the training, competency and fitness for duty of personnel on mobile offshore units (MOUs) with a view to adoption at Assembly 28 in November. It was agreed that the appropriate instrument to encapsulate training and certification provisions for personnel on ships using gases or other low flash-point fuels is chapter V of the STCW Convention and Code. Additional names nominated by Governments were added to the list of ‘competent persons’ and will be included in an update of MSC / Circular. 797 / Rev. 24.

• MEASURES TO ENHANCE MARITIME SECURITY. It was noted that a number of Contracting Governments have yet to update their information on IMO’s GISIS Maritime Security Module, despite it being a mandatory requirement to do so under SOLAS; accordingly they were urged to assist by nominating a national point of contact. Outcomes of FAL 38 related to maritime security of note are:
(1) The desirability of harmonising the FAL Convention with the WCO SAFE Framework of standards;
(2) The need for possible revisions to Standard 3.44 of the FAL Convention, in order to reduce discriminatory treatment of seafarers in respect of shore leave and access to shore-side medical facilities; and
(3) In order to address under-reporting of stowaway incidents, Member States (particularly flag States) and NGO’s are encouraged to make better use of GISIS together with enhanced security measures within their ports in order to discourage potential stowaways.
• RADIO COMMUNICATIONS AND SEARCH AND RESCUE. The Committee authorised the convening of the ninth meeting of the joint IMO / ITU Experts Group at IMO from 14 to 18 October 2013 and in advance of that, the twentieth session of the ICAO / IMO Joint Working Group in Amsterdam from 23 to 27 September 2013. A proposal by BRAZIL apropos sharing of information about a ship’s “next entitled port” between Data Centres for inclusion in the LRIT system was not agreed for a variety of reasons, most notably that of higher cost implications. Concerning the USA’s notification of an application for the “Iridium” mobile-satellite system for recognition and use in the GMDSS, the Committee decided that, in principle, there are no objections and referred the matter to the NCSR sub-committee whilst IMSO volunteered to undertake a technical and operational compliance assessment.

• FLAG STATE IMPLEMENTATION. The Committee concurred with the decision of MEPC 65 that ‘valid’ certificates carried on board, may also be considered as “original” or “authentic” while containing an “authorised” electronically applied signature or stamp. Note was taken of MEPC 65’s initiative to establish a correspondence group on the use of electronic record books under MARPOL. With regard to building contract date, keel-laying date and delivery date, it was agreed that the completion date of the initial survey rather than the date of the protocol of delivery and acceptance signed by both the building and owner, should be used in order to determine the application of SOLAS and MARPOL mandatory requirements. An instruction was issued to FSI that it should review the listing of very serious casualties to be investigated and to consider, in consultation with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), whether any lessons might be learnt from their approach taken towards the submission and dissemination of accident reports within the aviation industry. The Committee took a policy decision to align the survey regime for ships not subject to the enhanced survey programme of inspections of bulk carriers and oil tankers (ESP ships) with that of ships subject to it, whilst also addressing the potentially adverse impact resulting from the extended period of renewal surveys on annually based- survey items.

• SHIP DESIGN AND EQUIPMENT. The Committee approved a Unified Interpretation (UI) of the performance standard for protective coatings for dedicated seawater ballast tanks in all types of ships and double-side skin spaces of bulk carriers. This makes clear that any coating system not fully meeting the standard approval scheme of the PSPC is required to undergo the more rigorous alternative test procedure. Also approved was a draft MSC resolution on requirements for periodic servicing and maintenance of lifeboats and rescue boats in addition to a draft MSC Circular on ‘Guidelines on safety during abandon ship drills using lifeboats, both for final approval at MSC 93, the latter having first been considered by the STW Sub-Committee
Progress made at DE 57 in developing the mandatory Polar Code, Chapter 15 on Environmental Protection, was noted together with subsequent decisions taken by MEPC, viz:

(1) DE to await BLG deliberation on black carbon emissions
(2) Agreement to exempt cargo ships having ice-breaking capabilities from the EEDI requirement
(3) That any discharge into the sea of oil or oily mixtures from any ship should be prohibited
(4) Agreed that it is premature to regulate the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) on ships operating in Arctic waters
(5) Regulation on grey water discharge should first be considered by MEPC as it is currently not regulated under MARPOL
(6) Discharge of food waste into the sea is permissible under certain conditions
(7) Instructed DE to take into account the temperature testing requirement for ballast water management systems; and
(8) Proposed the holding of an intersessional meeting of the Polar Code Working Group in autumn 2013 subject to agreement of MSC 92 and pending endorsement by C 110 in July.

The status of nautical charting in Polar waters was considered less than satisfactory and referred to NAV for further consideration.

The Committee recalled that MSC 91 adopted a new SOLAR regulation concerning the recovery of persons from the water which is expected to enter into force on 1 July 2014 and requires ship-specific plans and procedures for such recovery. In this connection, JAPAN tabled document MSC 92 / INF. 7 providing information on a sample form as to how this can be achieved.
• TECHNICAL CO-OPERATION ACTIVITIES RELATING TO MARITIME SAFETY AND SECURITY. The Committee noted that 66 model courses have been published in English of which 32 have been translated into French and 35 into Spanish, whilst translation of the remaining courses is being undertaken in a phased manner within existing resources.
(1) GULF OF GUINEA: The Committee recognised the gravity of the issue of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Gulf of Guinea and the extreme violence exhibited, and expressed its deep concern for, and condemnation of, such activities.

It also welcomed the regional initiative by ECCAS, ECOWAS and the Gulf of Guinea Commission, to develop a Code of Conduct on the repression of piracy, armed robbery against ships and other illicit activities at sea. Adopted at a Ministerial meeting in Cotonow, Benin in March 2013, the Code of Conduct is expected to be opened for signature at the meeting of Heads of State and Governments of Central and West African States in Yaoundé, Cameroon, on 24 and 25 June 2013. Flag States were reminded of the need for proper and comprehensive reporting of incidents by ships operating in the area and to reinforce the need for full implementation of IMO guidance (MSC.1 / Circs.1333 and 1334) and other guidelines developed by the industry. As this included recently developed interim guidance specific to the region, the Committee requested the Secretariat to circulate relevant details by means of a circular letter.

(2) OFF THE COAST OF SOMALIA: JAPAN stated that, although the number of piracy attacks in the Gulf of Aden and western Indian Ocean had significantly reduced, it remained a significant threat giving no reason to relax. BANGLADESH underscored this sentiment by reminding the Committee that the 15 seafarer crew of the MV ALBEDO from BANGLADESH, INDIA and SRI LANKA are still being held captive (since November 2010) and deserve help from any quarter, in particular from the Flag State and other IMO Member States to assist in their release.

(3) PRIVATE ARMED SECURITY AND RULES ON THE USE OF FORCE: The Committee noted that MSC 92 / INF.14 tabled by the MARSHALL ISLANDS, ICS, ISO and BIMCO has been accepted as an input for inclusion in the rules for the use of force at the next AGM of ISO’s Technical Committee (TC) 8th session. BIMCO expressed concern that some Governments may be considering using the

International Code of Conduct (ICoC) as a standard for the approval of PCASPs, as opposed to ISO Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 28007. The use of ICOC could be viewed as introducing a “competing standard” which does not even reflect the maritime domain and law enforcement. Thus the protection of seafarers and member vessels and cargoes might be severely compromised by the ICoC mechanism, especially if Governments go down independent lines for regulation that do not, at least, mirror ISO PAS 28007.
• REVIEW AND REFORM OF THE IMO ORGANISATION, INCLUDING APPLICATION OF THE COMMITTEES’ GUIDELINES. Following extensive consideration, the Committee approved the names and terms of reference for the following sub-committees of the MSC and MEPC, as appropriate, which will replace the existing subsidiary bodes starting from the 2014 – 2015 biennium:

.1 Carriage of Cargoes and Containers (CCC)
(was DSC)

.2 Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW)
(was STW)

.3 Implementation of IMO Instruments (III)
(was FSI)

.4 Navigation Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR)
(an amalgamation of NAV and COMSAR)

.5 Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR)
(was BLG)

.6 Ship Design and Construction (SDC)
(derived from DE, FP and SLF)

.7 Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE)
(derived from DE, FP and SLF)

Under the new structure, there will be a reduction to seven sub-committee meetings held per year, giving potential opportunities for cost savings by the IMO, Member States and NGOs.

Terms of Reference for all seven sub-committees were approved and a proposal for full five-day sessions with interpretation for the first sessions only of the newly formed NCSR and SDC sub-committees was endorsed, enabling them to better cope with their heavy agendas.

The recommended ‘package’ will now be considered by Council 110 in July and assuming it is duly endorsed, finally blessed at Assembly 28 in November 2013. Last meetings of 2 sub-committees under the present structure, that of NAV 59 and DSC 18 will take place as originally planned in September 2013 and the new regime will commence at the beginning of 2014.

• OUTCOME OF THE IMO SYMPOSIUM ON THE FUTURE OF SHIP SAFETY. The IMO Symposium held on 10 and 11 June 2013 was attended by some 500 participants. Risk assessment, data collection, new technology, the human element and man / machine interface were identified as important issues to be addressed when reviewing the existing safety regulatory framework in order to effectively respond to future challenges. The recommendations from the Symposium will be considered at a future session of MSC.

Captain Paddy McKnight

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