The IMO’s Committee on Maritime Safety (MSC) held its 93rd Session (MSC 93) from Wednesday 14 through Friday 23 May 2014 under the Chairmanship of Mr Christian Breinholt (DENMARK)  and  his Vice Chair, Captain M Segar of SINGAPORE).  104 Member States attended the meeting during which a drafting group (DG) and two working groups (WG) were subsequently formed and chaired as follows:



DG1            Amendments to Mandatory Instruments, Mr Motonobu Tsuchiya (UK)

WG1           Passenger Ship Safety, Mr Brad Groves (AUSTRALIA)

WG2           The Polar Code, Mrs J Stemre (NORWAY)


Following is a selection of salient points which may be of particular interest to InterManager members:


  • OPENING REMARKS.  The Secretary General of IMO Stated that in the past two and a half years, 2,932 lives have been lost in domestic shipping accidents across the world.  SOLAS, his highest priority for revision in this its Centenary year, is however not currently applicable to domestic voyages which are within the purview of relevant member governments.  Following the COSTA CONCORDIA grounding on 13 January 2012, he promised that the IMO would shortly provide a definitive statement on the incident as the Italian authorities have now finished their entire findings on the cause of the incident.

a)     Endorsed the application requirements of regulations applying to newly constructed and existing ships;

b)     Adopted amendments to SOLAS chapters II and XIII and a draft MSC resolution;

c)     Adopted amendments to the FSS and LSA Codes, also those relevant to MSC resolutions;

d)     Noted editorial modifications to the IBC and IBG Codes;

e)     Adopted amendments to the 2011 ESP Code, the IMDG Code, the 1978 STCW Convention and Code and the 1988 Load Lines Protocol;

f)       Noted modifications to the BCH Code, additional to those proposed by MEPC 66 to be harmonised by the Secretariat

g)     Adopted amendments to the EGC and GC Codes;

h)     Adopted an MSC resolution on life-saving appliances;

i)       Approved draft MSC circulars on reference test devices (RTD), safety measures for existing vehicle carriers carrying motor vehicles with compressed H2 or natural gas in their tanks for their own propulsion as cargo, and, products requiring oxygen-dependent inhibitors;

j)       Approved a circular on Guidance on entry into force of amendments to the 19734 SOLAS Convention.  This will implement a four-year cycle commencing on 1 January 2016 with a corresponding entry-into-force date of 1 January 2020;  Amendments adopted at the current session will be deemed to have been accepted on 1 July 2015 and enter into force on 1 January 2016.

k)     Agreed to establish a WG at MSC 94;

l)       Instructed SSE2 to give urgent consideration to the issues related to the scope of application of the LSA Code, reporting its findings to MSC 95.  .

  • MEASURES TO ENHANCE MARITIME SECURITY The Committee concluded that further work on “Guidelines for the Development of National Security Legislation” is necessary to advise how the provisions can be incorporated better into national legislation.  This would give full and complete effect to SOLAS chapter XI-2 and the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.


  • GOAL BASED NEW SHIP CONSTRUCTION STANDARDS.  Future work on further development of the Goal-Based Standards Safety-level Approach (GBS-SLA) regarding  development of safety objectives as well as functional requirements for the approval of alternative designs and arrangements for regulations of SOLAS chapter III on life-saving appliances was summarised by GERMANY.  The relevant outcome of SSE 1 deliberations will be considered subsequently by the GBS Working Group.


  • PASSENGER SHIP SAFETYThe Italian delegation stated that they had provided all available information on the investigation of the COSTA CONCORDIA accident and were not planning to provide anything further unless expressly requested to do so by the Committee.  WG1’s report was duly considered and actions were taken as follows:

(1)   Endorsed the view that the existing goal-based approach with regard to onboard communications in an emergency is sufficient;

(2)   Instructed sub-committee III 1 to prioritise its consideration of the COSTA CONCORDIA grounding report and upload lessons learnt on GISIS. Contributory factors, issues raised / lessons learnt and observations on the Human Element should also be brought to MSC 94’s attention.

(3)   Agreed that there is no need for a two-phased approach to increase subdivision index R but instructed SDC to continue technical considerations;

(4)   Forwarded the EMSA and GOALDS studies, also MSC 93/6/2 containing the report of the FSA Expert Group to the SDC Sub-Committee

(5)   Instructed SDC to include the item “double hull in way of main engine-rooms” under existing planned output, also “open watertight doors” and “monitoring and assessing risk from operation of watertight doors” under planned output

(6)   Instructed HTW to include the item of ”enhanced damage stability training” under existing planned output

(7)   Approved a new unplanned output on “the revision of section 3 on damage control plans of the “Guidelines and information to the master” for new and existing passenger ships.

(8)   Encouraged Member Governments to inspect SAR cooperation plans on board ships visiting their harbours and compare the information provided with that on the MRCC Falmouth database;

(9)   Agreed to finalise a list of potential issues related to the findings of the COSTA CONCORDIA investigation in the long-term action plan at MSC 94.


(1)   Approved the draft MSC-MEPC Circular on Guidelines for the reactivation of the Safety Management Certificate following an operational interruption of the SMS due to lay-up;

(2)   Approved the draft MSC-MEPC Circular addressing Guidance on safety when transferring persons at sea;

(3)   Endorsed STW 44’s decision not to develop amendments to the ISM Code for the transfer of ship maintenance and failure records;

(4)   Concurred with STW’s view that the STCW Convention and Code adequately cover training requirements relating to the  RCOs for General Cargo Ship Safety.


  • SAFETY OF NAVIGATION.  The Committee adopted two new traffic separation schemes:


(1)   “On the Pacific coast of Panama”;  and

(2)   “At the approaches to Puerto Cristobal”.


  • HUMAN ELEMENT, TRAINING AND WATCHKEEPING.  The Committee considered urgent issues emanating from the first session of HTW during which it endorsed STCW.7/Circ.21 on Advice for port State control officers, recognised organisations and recognised security organisations on action to be taken where seafarers do not carry requisite certification.  Training and certification requirements for ship security officers and seafarers with designated duties were also endorsed as advised in a separate Circular.  Nine further “competent persons” nominated by three STCW Parties were approved and will be added to the current list of 173 competent persons.


  • TECHNICAL COOPERATION ACTIVITIES RELATING TO MARITIME SAFETY AND SECURITY.  32 regional, 34 national and 65 global safety- and security-related activities were implemented during 2013 under the Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP).  Further, 72 model courses have been published in English to date, of which 30 have been translated into French and 34 into Spanish.


  • PIRACY AND ARMED ROBBERY AGAINST SHIPS.  The Committee noted that the number of worldwide piracy attacks has decreased and that no SOLAS ships have been hijacked in the western Indian Ocean area since May 2012.  However the situation in the Gulf of Guinea has not improved as 9 ships were reported hijacked in 2012 and another 9 in 2013;  indeed, BIMCO argued that there is a general upwards trend in the Gulf and the number of kidnappings of crews is growing to an unacceptable level.  The delegations of Cameroon, Angola and Ghana provided additional information to assist in the Committees deliberations during which the Secretary General of IMO thanked those Member States that had provided donations to the West and Central Africa Maritime Security Trust Fund.  He further stressed the need to establish a national and port security regime in each country, assisted by the ITCP, and in this respect a Maritime Trade Information Sharing Centre in Accra, Ghana, recently established with the assistance of OCIMF is noteworthy.


With regard to interim guidelines on measures relating to the welfare of seafarers and their families developed by WG3 of the Contract Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, it was decided to forward these to ILO as many of the aspects described fall directly under ILO’s purview and are complementary to the 2006 MLC.


  • PRIVATE ARMED SECURITY.  MSC 90 decided that ISO would be best placed to develop standards on Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSC)  and issued Interim guidance to private maritime security companies providing privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASP) on board ships in the High Risk Area, which includes guidance on rules of the use of force.  Following subsequent development of the ISO Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 28007,  PMSC can now be certified to this voluntary standard, thus facilitating uniform international implementation.  Meanwhile, there have been calls for a new independent organisation, based in Geneva, to take on actual role monitoring activities, sometimes on board ships.  Known as the International Code of Conduct Association (ICoCA), BIMCO (on behalf of the Round Table members) argued that it may not be in IMO’s best interest to encourage an oversight mechanism such as that of ICoCA in addition to ISO PAS 28007.  In response to these concerns, UK responded it was not aware of any State using the ICoC for PMSC certification which in any case is a set of principles, not a standard.  Following an extensive discussion, the Committee reaffirmed its support for ISO PAS 28007, and encouraged Member States to submit documents to its next session on how best to reflect the value of 28007 in IMO’s guidance on the use of PCASP.


  • HIGH RISK AREA.  Despite a request by the delegation of OMAN to remove the Sea of Oman from the High Risk Area as defined in BMP4, ICS informed the committee that information received from naval forces indicates a continued risk of piracy in these waters and it has been agreed, for the time being, to keep the geographical limits of the HRA as they are.




(1)   MOL COMFORT.   In an interim investigation report of the accident by a JAPAN government (MLIT) committee, two recommendations were made:


  1.                              i.          That a safety inspection on the bottom shell plates to the extent possible should be conducted in order to verify the presence of buckling deformation;  and,
  2.                             ii.          Verification of the actual weight of container cargoes provided by the shipper be carried out in order to reduce uncertainty related to the still water bending moments of large containerships.


(2) TRANSPORT  OF  IRON  ORE  FINES.   A DSC Circular (DSC.1/Circ.71) has been issued on early implementation of the draft amendments to the IMSBC Code relating to a draft schedule following finalised work on iron ore fines.

  • THE POLAR CODE.  In consideration of WG1’s report, the Committee:

(1)   Endorsed the group’s recommendation to instruct NCSR to further consider whether the scope of application of chapter 10 (Safety of Navigation) and 11 (Communication) of the draft Polar Code should also include different types and sizes of ships or if it would be sufficient to address this in phase 2 (non-SOLAS ships) of the Polar Code.

(2)   Noted the urgent need to start phase 2 of the Polar Code development.

(3)   Approved the draft new SOLAS chapter XIV, with a view to subsequent adoption.

(4)   Noted the group’s decision to include a sample table of content and additional guidance of detailed content for the Polar Waters Operational Manual (PWOM) as an appendix to the draft Polar Code, which is divided into parts, I (Safety Measures) and II (Environmental Protection Measures).

(5)   Endorsed sending part II and additional guidance for PWOM to MEPC 67 for consideration in conjunction with the introduction and part II-A of the draft Polar Code.

(6)   Endorsed deletion of chapter 7, observing that such matters come under ILO purview.

(7)   Referred navigation and communication matters to NCSR1 in conjunction with the finalisation of chapters 10 and 11 of the draft Polar Code

(8)   Approved, in principle, a draft International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters, with a view to adoption in conjunction with the adoption of an associated draft new SOLAS chapter XIV.

  • IMPLEMENTATION OF THE  IMSBC  CODE.  MSC 92 adopted amendments to the IMSBC Code which are envisaged to enter into force from 1 January 2015.  It was noted that, since the actual Code entered into force, a number of casualties have been reported involving ships carrying cargoes addressed by the Code and which have resulted in the loss of many seafarers’ lives.  During discussion, the Committee:

(1)   noted that the Code is not directed to a particular ship-type or size and therefore is relevant to all ships that carry dry cargoes in bulk;

(2)   urged that cargoes are loaded, carried and unloaded in accordance with the applicable statutory requirements, especially the IMSBC Code provisions;

(3)   reminded stakeholders of the publications, guides and flowchart that industry associations, classification societies and other organisations have produced to facilitate IMSBC Code implementation;  and

(4)   invited consideration of further actions that might be taken to promote global implementation of, and compliance with, the provisions of SOLAS chapter VI and the IMSBC Code to all involved in the transport of solid bulk cargoes.

Taking into account the 2014 theme for World Maritime Day “IMO conventions : effective implementation” and in order to enhance global compliance with the Code, the IMO Secretary-General stated that his Secretariat will develop a new technical cooperation programme within the framework of the ITCP and furnish MSC 94 with information on the nature of support that IMO can provide.

  • IMPLEMENTATION  OF  INSTRUMENTS  AND  RELATED  MATTERS.  The Committee approved DG1’s report and in particular:

(1)   Approved the draft MSC Circular on Guidance on entry into force of amendments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention;

(2)   Approved Interim Guidance on drafting of amendments;

(3)   Instructed the Committees subsidiary bodies to start using the Guidance and invited proposals for improvement;

(4)   Agreed to establish a WG at MSC 94;

(5)   Instructed SSE2 to consider urgently, the issues related to the Scope of Application of the LSA Code, then report to MSC 94.

  • OUT OF SPECIFICATION MARINE FUELS.  Following an extensive discussion, the Committee recognised that “Out of Specification” marine fuels pose a safety risk to ships and resolved to consider and coordinate the matter in conjunction with MEPC,  taking into account ship safety, as well as environmental and health issues.  Member States and international organisations were invited to submit proposals to MSC 94, which will be considered in concert  with the outcome of MEPC 67 in seeking to develop a specific way forward.  Meanwhile, the Committee urged Member States to strengthen their oversight capacity of bunker suppliers.


  • PLACE OF REFUGE.  INTERTANKO made a statement regarding the chemical tanker MARITIME MAISIE which suffered major structural damage on 29 December 2013.  Despite repeated requests, a place or refuge was not granted until 14 April 2014 even though the vessel’s structure suffered progressive deterioration.  Reference was made to Assembly resolution A.949(23) on places of refuge which argues the case for places of refuse but which also acknowledges that the State has no obligation to act.  Responding, the delegation of JAPAN answered that the coastal States indeed have the right to make the final decision on whether to accept or refuse such a request, taking into consideration the  threat to public safety.  In this instance, the Government’s concern about such potential damage caused by toxic gas (assessed to be a risk arising from the residual cargo) was the over-riding factor, hence MARITIME MAISIE’s  protracted wait for a place of refuge.





Captain Paddy McKnight


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