The IMO’s Committee on Maritime Safety (MSC) held its 94th Session (MSC 94) from Monday 17 through Friday 21 November 2014. Attending the meeting were representatives from 104 Member States and 3 Associated Members in addition to 4 from the UN and Specialised Agencies, 7 Inter-Governmental bodies, 47 Non-Governmental organisations and 1 invited expert. The Chairmen of the Council, MEPC and FAL together with those of the IMO Sub-Committees were also present and InterManager’s delegation was doubled by the presence of Mike McCabe, Seagull UK’s MD whose able presence and advice throughout the week was much appreciated. 147 documents were submitted and considered at the meeting by delegates numbering in excess of 1,000.
The meeting was conducted by Chairman, Mr Christian Breinholt (DENMARK) and his Vice-Chair, Captain M Segar (SINGAPORE); both were re-elected for 2015 during the course of the meeting. Three working groups (WG) and one drafting group (DG) were formed and chaired as follows:
|WG1||Polar and IGF Codes, Mrs J Stemre (NORWAY)|
|WG2||Goal Based Standards and Formal Safety Assessment, Mr J Sirkar (USA)|
|WG3||Amendments to SOLAS and Related Mandatory Instruments, Mr M Tsuchiya (UK)|
|DG1||Amendments to Mandatory Instruments, Mr H Tunfors (SWEDEN)|
Points of most interest to InterManager members follow:
- THE POLAR CODE. The committee approved WG1’s report in general and, in particular:
- approved changes to the definitions of the Polar Code and Arctic waters;
- instructed the Secretariat to inform MEPC 68 of such changes for harmonisation purposes;
- adopted a new SOLAR chapter XIV and associated MSC resolution;
- instructed the III Sub-Committee to consider survey and certification matters under the provisions of the Polar Code in its next review of the HSSC Guidelines;
- adopted the Polar Code and its associated MSC resolution; and
- established a CG to prepare draft guidance on a methodology for determining limitations for operation in ice, also to enable those interested to exchange information and experiences of ice operations.
- amendments to the 2011 ESP Code plus MSC resolution;
- amendments to the 1979, 1989 and 2009 MODU Codes plus MSC resolution; and
- amendments to Chapters II-21, VI, XI – 1 and the appendix to the annex of the 1974 SOLAS convention plus MSC resolution.
- AMENDMENT TO MANDATORY INSTRUMENTS. The Committee approved DG1’s report in general and, in particular adopted:
In addition, the Committee approved an MSC Circular on Early implementation of SOLAS regulation XI – 1/7 on Atmosphere testing instruments for enclosed spaces.
- MEASURES TO ENHANCE MARITIME SECURITY. A CG was re-established and tasked with reviewing / finalising ‘Guidance on Development of National Maritime Security Legislation’ under USA coordination. Cybersecurity was also discussed by Plenary in consideration of document MSC 94 /4 /1 by CANADA and the USA. However, noting concurrent work by the FAL Committee and a need not to take unilateral action without consulting other UN bodies and international organisations such as the ITU, it was decided to invite further submissions for discussion at MSC 95. FAL had concluded that the majority of cases involving stowaways on board ships was due to a lack of proper implementation of IMO’s maritime security measures as contained in SOLAS Chapter XI-2 and the ISPS Code and this has since been addressed in the revision process of the FAL Convention which now includes amendments to section 4 (Stowaways) and relevant security-related aspects.
- WG2. In its report to the Committee on ‘Goal-Based New Ship Construction Standards’ (GBS), WG2 registered concerns over possible discrepancies between different instruments using the GBS framework and emphasised the need for GBS-SLA (Safety Level Approach) experts to coordinate and harmonise among various instruments e.g. life-saving appliances in the SSE Sub-Committee, the Polar Code, IGF Code, etc. WG2 also reported to the Committee on ‘Formal Safety Assessment (FSA), including General Cargo Ship Safety’. It developed guidelines (subsequently approved) for considering and reviewing the outcome of FSA studies, and prepared amendments to the Committee’s Guidelines for FSA to assist in the IMO rule-making process. .
- PASSENGER SHIP SAFETY. The Committee agreed to include a new unplanned output in the post-biennial agenda of the SDC Sub-Committee in extending to existing passenger ships, a SOLAS requirement relating to computerised stability support for the master in case of flooding. ITALY, somewhat to everyone’s surprise, provided the results but not the statistics of an analysis on the maintenance of watertight doors and then argued that the matter could be considered equally applicable to cargo ships. During discussion, views were expressed that:
- the maintenance of watertight doors is already covered by the ISM Code; and
- there is no direct link with the casualty investigation report on COSTA CONCORDIA.
Notwithstanding what appeared to be a majority against the proposal, the Chairman (second surprise) ruled that “the Committee agreed” to add the item to the long-term action plan, though with the understanding that this would not prejudice the outcome of consideration of any further proposal for a new unplanned output on this matter.
- HUMAN ELEMENT, TRAINING AND WATCHKEEPING. InterManager, ITF and the Nautical Institute were co-sponsors of an Information Paper which the Committee ‘noted with appreciation’, and undertook to consider under a later item on the Work Programme. The submission provides information on the relation of fatigue, a major area of concern to seafarers, and in particular to the Master / Chief Mate two-watch system. In the event, it was considered under the ‘Revision of the Guidelines on Fatigue’, together with document MSC 94/18/7, spearheaded by AUSTRALIA, proposing to review MSC/Circ. 1014, Guidelines on fatigue mitigation and management. It was agreed to include, in the 2014-2015 agenda of the HTW Sub-Committee and the provisional agenda of HTW2, a new unplanned output on ‘Revision of the Guidelines on Fatigue’ under its existing agenda item ‘Role of the human element’, with a target completion date of 2017.
- REPORTS OF THE SUB-COMMITTEES.
- SHIP SYSTEMS AND EQUIPMENT (SSE1).
(a) Load testing of hooks. Having considered a draft unified interpretation (UI) related to load testing of hooks intended for the primary release of lifeboats and rescue boats, the Committee approved an MSC Circular based on a UI for the Revised Recommendation on testing of life-saving appliances (resolution MSC.81(70)).
(b) In-Service testing of automatic sprinkler systems on passenger ships. Document MSC 94/20/2 submitted by the BAHAMAS, updated the findings of the testing programme on automatic sprinkler systems on passenger ships which identifies a number of serious shortcomings needing to be addressed as a matter of urgency. An informal Group of Experts was set up which prepared a draft MSC Circular based on MSC 94/20/2, raising awareness of BAHAMAS’ findings, including interim guidance and providing a link to the testing procedure.
- NAVIGATION, COMMUNICATIONS, SEARCH AND RESCUE (NCSRI).
(a) Traffic separation schemes. Amendments to 3 schemes were adopted as in resolution A.858(20).
(b) Routeing measures other than TSSs. 7 new and amended routeing measures other than separation schemes were adopted in accordance with the resolution A858(20).
(c) Sustainability and viability of the LRIT system. LIBERIA submitted document 94/9/6 proposing to improve the financial sustainability and viability of the LRIT system by:
- changing the default interval for transmission of LRIT information from 4 to 2 positions per day (i.e. 1 transmission every 12 hours); and
- establishing a different mechanism for audit of the LRIT Data Centres (DCs) utilising GISIS to perform analysis of data samples submitted by DCs.
Following a prolonged discussion, the Committee agreed that:
- there is a need for an holistic review of LRIT’s financial viability;
- default intervals of transmission should not be changed;
- priority should be given to cost reduction of audits; and
- IMSO should continue with current audit arrangements until further notice.
(d) E-Navigation. A Strategy Implementation Plan (SIP) was approved as set out in NCSR 1/28 Annex 7.
(e) Iridium mobile satellite system. After some discussion, it was agreed that IMSO (International Maritime Satellite Organisation) should undertake the technical and operational evaluation of Iridium for consideration by the NCSR Sub-Committee. IMSO will convene a Group of Experts, making information available to Member States regarding the experts duly selected. The IMO Secretariat was instructed to oversee IMSO’s work during the evaluation process.
- IMPLEMENTATION OF IMO INSTRUMENTS (III).
(a) Interim guidelines on the use of printed versions of electronic certificates. The Committee was advised that FAL 39 had approved the guidelines referred to above and also that electronic certificates viewed on a computer should be considered as meeting the requirement to be ‘on board’, providing the certificates and the website used to access them conform to the IMO-approved guidelines and that specific verification instructions are available on board the ship.
(b) Guidelines for port State control officers on the ISM Code. The draft Guidelines for port State control officers on the ISM Code prepared by III1, will be referred to HTW2 for consideration under agenda item 8 on ‘Role of the Human Element’ prior to prospective approval by MEPC 68 and MSC 95.
(c) Circulars recommending action by port States. III1 recommended that actions by port States should be implemented in a consistent manner by all port States and PSC regimes; also, member administrations of PSC regimes should actively promote the implementation of such circulars within the procedures or advice material produced by the PSC regime. However, the RUSSIAN FEDERATION disagreed strongly with this approach, emphasising that non-mandatory instruments should not be given equal footing to the requirements contained in mandatory instruments. Responding, the Chairman of HTW clarified that the two circulars addressed the urgent need for providing PSC officers with pragmatic advice on action to be taken where seafarers do not carry certification on security-related training, also clarifying the training and certification requirements for ship security officers and seafarers with dedicated security duties.
(d) Certification of Seafarers’ rest hours. The Committee noted the completion of a draft MSC Circular on ‘Guidelines for port State control officers on certification of seafarers’ rest hours’, based on the relevant provisions of the 1978 STCW Convention, as amended and manning requirements from the flag’ which is being referred to HTW2 under its agenda item 8 reviewing the ‘Role of the Human Element’, prior to referral to the Committee for approval.
- CARRIAGE OF CARGOES AND CONTAINERS (CCC1)
(a) CTU Code. The Committee noted that the 322nd session of the ILO Governing Body has approved the IMO/ILO/UNECE Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code) without change. Given that all 3 UN bodies have now formally approved the CTU Code, it was decided to prepare an MSC Circular in order to facilitate future references to the Code.
(b) E&T Group. 2 intersessional meetings of the E&T group in 2015 were approved in order to prepare the next set of amendments to the IMDG Code.
(c) Mass of Containers. The Committee noted with appreciation document MSC 94/INF.9 by ITF and the NI containing information regarding ongoing concerns of seafarers on the subject of mis-declared mass of containers, particularly the enforcement and implementation of the amendments to SOLAS regulation VI/2 and the associated guidelines set out in MSC.1/Circ.1475.
- PIRACY AND ARMED ROBBERY AGAINST SHIPS. Continuing positive developments in the suppression of piracy and armed robbery off Somalia and the wider Indian Ocean were noted but concern remained about the 37 seafarers still being held hostage by Somali pirates.
Attacks in the Gulf of Guinea also showed a downward trend but the importance of Flag States and industry organisations reporting all incidences was reiterated. The Maritime Trade Information Sharing Centre (MTISC) in Accra, Ghana is now operational on a trial basis and currently, over 500 ships per month are reporting to it. The work of the MTISC is complementary to that of the strategic-level Interregional Coordination Centre (ICC) in Yaoundé which oversees implementation of the Code of Conduct in the region. The MTISC website at www.mtisc-gog.org is now live and offers guidance whilst the IMO website also shows an industry developed and newly updated version of the ‘Guidelines for Owners, Operators and Masters for Protection Against Piracy in the Gulf and Guinea Region’.
The Committee welcomed the information that the mandate of EUNAVFOR and NATO have been extended to the end of 2016.
- NATIONAL LEGISLATION ON PRIVATE MARITIME SECURITY COMPANIES (PMSC). GERMANY proposed to amend MSC.1/Circ.1406/Rev2 so that national licences equivalent to, or beyond, ISO 28007 receive the same recognition in IMO guidance as ISO 28007 accredited certification. Following discussion, it was agreed to welcome proposals for a debate at MSC 95 incorporating references to the ISO standard 28007 (i.e. after it has become standard) and to relevant national standards, while allowing for the necessary flexibility for Flag States to decide their policy in regulating armed guards on board their ships.
The Committee took note of draft guidelines and standards regarding the use of PCASP on board merchant vessels developed by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) supported by ITALY. INDIA expressed concern about the increasing number of ‘floating armouries’ operating in the wider Indian Ocean region, however many Member States felt that some of their proposals may not be consistent with UNCLOS and customary international law, which provides coastal States’ limited rights and jurisdiction in their EEZ in matters related to resource exploitation and protection. This will be further discussed at MSC 95 but in the interim, ITF pointed out that the use of armed guards is necessary in order to protect seafarers and in this regard appealed to Indian authorities to release the crew of the MV SEAMAN GUARD OHIO.
Finally, a progress report concerning the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against ships in Asia (Re CAAP) Information Sharing Centre (ISC) was provided in document MSC 94/INF. 7.
- IMPLEMENTATION OF INSTRUMENTS AND RELATED MATTERS. The Committee approved the report of WG3 in general and, in particular:
- requested the Secretariat to develop a new module in GISIS (to be called ‘Development of amendments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention and related mandatory instruments) in order to record the development of draft amendments and, asserted that such information should be accessible to all Member States and Accredited Organisations;
- approved the pertinent draft of a MSC Circular on same;
- instructed SSE2 to follow the guidance provided when finalising amendments to the LSA Code; and
- noted that the guidance should not apply, in its entirety, to the IMDG and IMSBC Codes nor to the cargo-related part of the IBC and IGC Codes.
MEPC will be apprised of these developments, for information.
- THE IGF CODE. Following a prolonged discussion in Plenary, appropriate terms of reference were given to WG1 in pursuance of IGF Code development. In consideration of WG1’s subsequent report, the Committee:
- approved draft amendments to SOLAS chapters II-1 and II-2 and appendix to make the IGF Code mandatory, with a view to adoption at MSC 95;
- approved draft amendments to the Protocols of 1978 and 1988 relating to SOLAS 1974, with regard to forms of certificates, in relation to the IGF Code for adoption at MSC 95;
- noted that the Working Group will submit the final part of its report to MSC 95;
- taking 3. Into account, nevertheless approved, in principle, the draft IGF Code; and
- authorised the Secretariat to effect any editorial corrections as appropriate when preparing the final text.
- CHANGES TO IMO DOCS. A ‘pink paper’ enhancement function has been created within IMODOCS which allows documents within the system to be highlighted with a pink background to indicate that the document is a proposed amendment to a mandatory IMO instrument approved for adoption.
- DEVELOPMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF E-NAVIGATION. Having considered submissions by AUSTRALIA (also 13 others, including InterManager) and NORWAY, which recognises the importance of IMO maintaining its leading role in e-navigation, participating Member States were invited to:
- review each of the tasks listed in the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) with a view to reducing the number of outputs;
- prepare each reviewed output in SMART terms;
- prepare a comprehensive prioritised work plan including the time required to complete each output; and
- submit the information to MSC95.
NORWAY accordingly agreed to coordinate the work with interested parties.
- GUIDELINES ON PLACES OF REFUGE FOR SHIPS IN NEED OF ASSISTANCE – RESOLUTION A.949(23). In considering document MSC 94/20/1, which InterManager co-sponsored with 2 Flag States and 4 other NGOs, the Committee noted that Assembly 28 decreed that proposals for review of amendments to resolutions should be made strictly in compliance with the workload management mechanism in the resolution entitled ‘Guidelines on the application of the Strategic Plan and the High-Level Action Plan of the Organisation’ and the relevant Committees’ Guidelines. In light of this, the Committee invited the proponents of MSC 94/20/1 to submit their proposal for a new unplanned output to amend resolution A.949(23) on Guidelines on Places of Refuge for Ships in Need of Assistance to a future session in accordance with such Guidelines.
- EBOLA VIRUS DISEASE. Of special note in this debate was the need, expressed by MALTA, to ensure that issues related to protecting the health of those conducting search and rescue operations, in particular dedicated SAR personnel and those from merchant ships called upon to rescue persons in distress at sea, were being adequately addressed. Guidance, based on work done by NORWAY relating to migrants rescued by sea, which addresses infectious diseases including, but not limited to Ebola, is being developed by ICS.
- FUEL OIL QUALITY MATTERS. The Committee noted that a Correspondence Group (CG) to develop draft guidance on the quality of fuel oil and to consider the adequacy of the current regulatory framework was established by MEPC at its 67th session. It was therefore agreed to forward SINGAPORE’s document MSC 94/INF8 on ‘Bunker quality management framework in the Port of Singapore’ to the CG for further consideration.
- THE 2014 IMO AWARD FOR EXCEPTIONAL BRAVERY AT SEA. The 2014 Medal (and a Certificate) Award for exceptional bravery at sea was awarded to Captain Andreas Kristensen and the crew of the M/V Britannia Seaways. They were nominated by DENMARK for their display of courage, professionalism and dedication in fighting, at great risk and danger to themselves, a raging fire on board their ship for 13 hours during November 2013, thus saving the lives of 32 people, preventing further damage to the ship and cargo and avoiding a major marine pollution incident.
Captain Paddy McKnight END