The IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) held its 101st Session (MSC 101) from Wednesday 5 through Friday 14 June 2019 under the Chairmanship of Mr Brad Groves (AUSTRALIA) and his Vice-Chair, Mr Juan Carlos Cubisino (ARGENTINA), both of whom were re-elected for 2020.  Three Working Groups (WG) and one Drafting Group (DG) were formed and chaired as follows:


WG1                Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships, Mr H Tunfors (SWEDEN)


WG2                Fuel oil safety, Mr C Allgeier (GERMANY)


WG3                Goal-based standards, Mr J Sirkar (USA)


DG1                Amendments to Mandatory Instruments, Mr N Boldt (GERMANY)


The meeting was attended by representatives from 113 IMO Member Governments, 2 Associate Member Governments, 3 UN and Specialised Agencies, 4 Inter-Governmental Organisations and 53 Non-Governmental organisations.



IMO SECRETARY GENERAL’S ADDRESS.  The Secretary General, Mr K Lim, welcomed delegates to the 101st session of the Maritime Safety Committee and expressed his sadness regarding the recent casualty of the Hableany, a tourist boat operating on the river Danube, Budapest, Hungary, in which 21 victims of the accident have still not been recovered.  On behalf of the IMO membership, the Secretariat and himself, he extended deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of the crew members and passengers who perished in the accident as well as those who remain missing.

He next went on to speak of this year’s World Maritime Day theme “Empowering women in the maritime community” which will be celebrated at IMO Headquarters on 26 September, preceded by the annual parallel event in Cartagena, Colombia from 15 to 17 September.

Turning to the main topics of interest on the meeting’s agenda, he viewed key issues to be discussed as those of:


  • Autonomous ships, in particular, the ongoing MASS scoping exercise and proposals for developing guidelines for MASS trials. A new GISIS module for the regulatory scoping exercise, made available at the beginning of this year, will facilitate and speed-up the process of the high-level review;


  • GBS verification audits to ensure conformity of classification rules with goal-based new ship construction standards for bulk carriers and oil tankers of which several audits are currently underway. Of note, a further new GISIS functionality has been established to allow nomination of GBS auditors by Member States;


  • Enhancing the safety of ships regarding the use of fuel oil and with the entry into force date of 1 January for the new 2020 sulphur limit, the Committee is expected to approve a draft MSC-MEPC circular on compliant fuel oil by suppliers;


  • Global trends of Piracy and Gulf of Guinea situation in which 223 incidents occurred worldwide in 2018, as against 204 in 2017. So far in 2019, incidents in West and Central African waters have accounted for about half of all those reported;


  • Migration, the hijacking of ELHIBLU 1 off Libya when 100 rescued migrants forced the ship’s Captain to proceed to Malta where the authorities took action to safely resolve a fraught situation;


  • Consideration of reports and key issues emanating from the Sub-committees, most particularly the overload of work in NCSR, preparation of draft amendments to SOLAS chapter II-2 regarding onboard lifting appliances and anchor handling winches, plus discussions at HTW 6 on issues related to the implementation of the STCW Convention and the “White list”;


  • New outputs, for which a record number of 21 proposals, the highest number in the last 15 years, have been submitted for consideration, and;


  • The upcoming Conference on Fishing Vessel Safety and IUU Fishing to be held in Torremolinos, Spain from 21 to 23 October 2019 at which participation of all Member States and international organisations is encouraged.


In conclusion, the Secretary General wished the Committee every success in their deliberations over the following eight working days and expressed his confidence that the best and most widely acceptable outcomes would be achieved.


DECISION OF OTHER BODIES.  Having noted the respective Committee decisions at meetings; Council 121, Legal 106, Facilitation 43, and Marine Environment 74, it was agreed to take action as appropriate under the relevant agenda items.  The subject of lost containers at sea was noted, particularly in the context of addressing the issue of marine plastic litter from ships and following a brief discussion, proposals were invited for a relevant new output to MSC 102.


AMENDMENTS TO MANDATORY INSTRUMENTS.  Following a protracted and detailed debate in Plenary for the benefit of the Drafting Group (DG 1) as background to their Terms of Reference, the Group was duly convened.  Having considered DG 1’s subsequent report, the committee approved it in general, and in particular, adopted draft MSC resolutions on amendments to the:


  • 1974 SOLAS Convention;
  • FSS Code;
  • IGF Code;
  • LSA Code;
  • IBC Code;
  • 2011 ESP code;
  • IMSBC Code;
  • BCH Code;
  • SPS Code.


In addition, approval was given to a draft MSC circular on revision of the ‘List of solid bulk cargoes for which a fixed gas fire-extinguishing system may be exempted or for which it is ineffective’ and authorisation extended to the Secretariat in effecting any editorial corrections that may be identified when preparing the authentic text of the amendments, as appropriate.



REGULATORY SCOPING EXERCISE FOR THE USE OF MARITIME AUTONOMOUS SHIPS (MASS).  The Committee recalled that MSC had approved the Framework for the regulatory scoping exercise, requesting the Secretariat to develop an appropriate web platform, and approved, subject to endorsement by the Council, the holding of an intersessional meeting of the MASS Working Group from 2 to 6 September 2019 having agreed suitable terms of reference for the Group at this session.  LEG 106 and FAL 43 had approved their own frameworks for the regulatory scoping exercise (RSE) of instruments under their purview, based on the framework agreed by the Committee, and agreed to use the web platform for the conduct of their respective exercises with a view to completion in 2020.

Document MSC 101/5 written by the Secretariat, provided a report on the RSE for the use of MASS and referred it to WG 1, with instructions to review the current RSE status, including the use of the web platform; to advise on any necessary action; and to prepare terms of reference for the intersessional Working Group.

Following discussion of document MSC 101/5/4 on the matter of glossary, it was agreed that the matter should be further considered after RSE has been completed; together with the submission from ISO concerning the international new standard being developed and which will be submitted to MSC 102.

The Committee recalled that, at MSC 100, the MASS Working Group had drawn up a list of principles to be taken into account when preparing draft guideline proposals for MASS trials, in particular that they should be generic and follow a goal-based approach.  The trials would be in line with mandatory instruments and also include exemptions and equivalent arrangements. The human element and training and certification requirements should be also be included.

The Committee established the MASS Working Group, instructing it to consider the progress made with the RSE, to finalise the interim guidelines for MASS trials and then prepare TORs for the intersessional Working Group on MASS.  This was duly done, and in considering WG 1’s report, approved it in general, and in particular:


  • Noted the progress of the RSE and, the agreed format of reports to be submitted to the intersessional Working Group (ISWG);
  • Encouraged IMO Members to contribute to the first step of the RSE based on the framework approved by MSC 100 and invited volunteering Member States to submit the results of the first step to the ISWG;
  • Approved draft terms of reference for the ISWG on MASS; and,
  • Approved the draft interim Guidelines for MASS trials and the associated MSC circular.


GOAL BASED NEW SHIP CONSTRUCTION STANDARDS (GBS).  The Committee noted the current status of GBS verification audits related to the rectification of non-conformities audits of Turk Loydu and the IACS recognised organisations (ROs); the re-verification audit of DNV-GL; and the annual maintenance of verification audits of those ROs whose rules had already been verified as conforming to the standards, the reports of which will be submitted to MSC 102 for consideration.  SSE 5 gained experience in applying the Generic guidelines for developing draft goals and functional requirements for onboard lifting appliances and anchor handling winches and, had subsequently agreed to amend them to aid their application throughout the Organisation. Two documents were submitted proposing changes to the Generic Guidelines and following a brief discussion, WG 3 was instructed to finalise the amendments to the Guidelines, taking into account document MSC 101/6/3 by Germany.  Prior to establishing the GBS WG, the Committee was updated on the new functionality in the GISIS module “National Contacts” with regard to the pool of GBS auditors allowing Member States and international organisations to nominate auditors directly in GISIS and to update the list of auditors, as necessary.

WG 3 was then established and instructed to finalise the draft amendments to the Generic guidelines for developing IMO GBS, also to consider and update the revised timetable and schedule of activities for implementation of the GBS verification scheme, if necessary.

On completion of its work, WG 3 submitted a report to the Committee which agreed it in general, and in particular:


  • Noted the three-step process agreed to by the Group for the development of functional requirements under the GBS framework;
  • Agreed draft amendments to para 13.3 of the Generic Guidelines to permit the development of functional requirements based on qualitative performance in those cases where it would otherwise be impracticable;
  • Agreed amendments to appendix 2 to ensure consistency with the new draft appendix 3 and the main body of the Generic Guidelines;
  • Approved the draft revised Generic Guidelines for circulation as MSC.1/Circ.1394/Rev.2; and,
  • Agreed to the revised timetable and schedule of activities for the implementation of the GBS verification scheme.


SAFETY MEASURES FOR NON-SOLAS SHIPS OPERATING IN POLAR WATERS.  The Committee had for its consideration, 2 documents, one by the Marshall Islands and New Zealand concerning chapters 9 and 11 of the Polar Code and the other, Chile et al (MSC 101/7/2) covering navigation and voyage planning in polar waters plus an Information paper from FOEI (Friends of the Earth International) detailing recent incidents.  Following discussion, it was agreed to include both documents in the provisional agenda for NCSR 7 in which the Sub-Committee was instructed to consider the consequences of applying chapters 9 and 11 of the Polar Code to non-SOLAS ships and how best to enhance their safety whilst also taking into account the outcome of the 2019 Torremolinos Conference on the safety of Fishing Vessels.  A draft resolution submitted by Canada et al, proposing a draft Assembly resolution urging Member States to take steps, on a voluntary basis, to implement the safety measures of the Polar Code on non-SOLAS ships was approved following minor amendment, and will be submitted to A 31 with a view to adoption.



DEVELOPMENT OF FURTHER MEASURES TO ENHANCE THE SAFETY OF SHIPS RELATING TO THE USE OF FUEL OIL.  It was recalled that MSC 100 acknowledged that urgent actions are required to address the safety implications associated with the use of low-sulphur fuel-oil, but that long-term solutions are also needed.  The Committee, with regard to MEPC 74, was reminded that it had:

  1. Noted that joint industry guidance on potential and operational issues related to the 0.50% maximum sulphur content will be released in August 2019 and an e-learning course by the end of the year;
  2. Noted the preparation of Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 23263 providing guidance as to the application of the existing ISO 8217 marine fuel standard to 0.50% compliant fuel oils to be published later this year;
  3. Approved a draft MSC-MEPC circular on delivery of compliant fuel oil by suppliers;
  4. Approved, in principle, draft amendments to the 2010 Guidelines for monitoring the worldwide average sulphur content of fuel oils supplied for use on board ships;
  5. Approved draft amendments to MARPOL with a view to further supporting the consistent implementation of the 0.50% sulphur limit;
  6. Adopted two resolutions, one on Guidelines for consistent implementation and the other, Guidelines for port State control;
  7. Approved five circulars comprising; PSC measures for addressing non-compliant fuel oil; Early application of the approved amendments to the verification procedures for a MARPOL Annex VI fuel oil sample; Guidance on indication of ongoing compliance in the case of the failure of a single monitoring instrument; Guidance for best practice for Member State/coastal State; and, Guidelines for on board sampling for the verification of the sulphur content of the fuel oil used on board ships;
  8. In respect of enhancing the implementation of regulation 18 (Fuel oil availability and quality), approved relevant circular MEPC.1/Circ.887 and established a Correspondence Group on Data Collection and Analysis to investigate the reporting of further usability improvements on GISIS; and,
  9. Requested the Secretariat to report to MEPC 75 a preliminary overview of data on fuel oil quality and availability currently available in GISIS.


Two documents were submitted for consideration, that by IACS proposing a method of work and items to be taken into account when developing measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of fuel oil and the other, by ICS et al commenting on the IACS document and volunteering information on problems encountered with fuel oil whilst proposing means to address safety issues with fuel oils not compliant with the flashpoint requirements.

A great number of views were expressed during the discussion that followed which resulted in the Committee agreeing, in principle, to the method of work for further measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of fuel oils, as proposed in the IACS paper MSC 101/8.  Consequently, the Committee instructed WG 2 to utilise the structured approach recommended by IACS in considering the IACS/ICS documents, including possible amendments to SOLAS chapter II-2, further measures to enhance the compliance of SOLAS flashpoint requirements and development of a GISIS module on the safety aspects of fuel.  The Group was also tasked to consider and develop guidance to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of fuel oil and to develop an action plan to progress the work.

In considering the report submitted by WG 2, the Committee approved it in general, and in particular;

  • Adopted a draft MSC resolution on Recommended interim measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of fuel oil [this in effect means that Member States must inform IMO of all confirmed cases where fuel oil suppliers deliver fuel oil failing to meet the specified requirements and they are obliged to take action against such suppliers];
  • Endorsed the action plan for enhancing safety in the use of fuel oil which will guide further work at MSC 102 and 103;
  • Agreed to develop a platform on GISIS for reporting of non-compliance of flashpoint requirements, with a preference for integration with the existing platform for MARPOL Annex VI;
  • Invited MEPC 75 to advise the Committee on the outcome of the investigation for the reporting of additional items on GISIS;
  • Noted that the Group could not reach consensus to finalise the draft unified interpretation (UI) as proposed in documents MSC 101/8/1 and SDC 6/9/4 [the latest version of IACS UI SC 123 which has been developed in light of typical fuel oil service tank arrangements for vessels trading in Emission Control Areas (ECAs) that use both low sulphur distillate and residual grade fuel oils so as to facilitate the consistent and global implementation of SOLAS regulation II-1/26.11];
  • Instructed SDC 7 to further consider a UI of the aforesaid SOLAS regulation; and,
  • Agreed the recommendation to establish a correspondence group on development of further measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of fuel oil, with terms of reference as given.


CARRIAGE OF CARGOES AND CONTAINERS.  Having recalled that MSC 100 has already taken action on urgent matters emanating from CCC 5, the Committee approved, in general, the report of the fifth session of the Sub-Committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers.  Approval was then given to draft amendments to the IGF, IGC and IGF Codes plus UIs on the first two.  Note was taken of a model course for the IMSBC Code being developed and reviewed intersessionally at CCC 6 for validation.


IMPLEMENTATION OF IMO INSTRUMENTS.  The Committee approved, in general, the report of III 5.  Following it up, the Committee endorsed the issuance of III.3/Circ.6 on Casualty Analysis and Statistics containing observations on reports of investigation into casualties.  Having considered the safety issue of the presence of vapours in non-hazardous closed spaces, identified by III 5 on the basis of the analyses of the reports of investigations into the three fire incidents on board Liang Sheng, Royal Diamond 7 and Border Heather, SSE 7 was instructed to consider the safety issue and to advise the Committee.  The Sub-Committee was instructed to consider the second consolidated audit summary report (CASR) containing lessons learned from 15 mandatory audits completed in 2016 and 2017, advising MSC and MEPC accordingly.  Finally, the fourth session of the Joint FAO/ILO/IMO Ad hoc Working Group on IUU Fishing and Related Matters (JWG 4) will be held in Torremolinos, Spain from 21 to 23 October 2019 directly after the Ministerial Conference on Fishing Vessel Safety and IUU Fishing planned for the same location.


NAVIGATION, COMMUNICATIONS AND SEARCH AND RESCUE.  The report of the sixth session of NCSR was approved in general following which general discussion took place on a number of topics.  This included adoption of the proposed Traffic Separation schemes (TSS) and routeing measures described in my Summary report of NCSR 6; Minor amendments to LRIT; Guidelines on standardised modes of operation, S-Mode; Adoption of a resolution on the format and structure of Maritime Services in the context of e-navigation; MSI-related documentation; ITU matters; EPIRB performance standards; Guidelines on annual testing of VDRs and S-VDRs; Development of an interim preliminary draft Iridium SafetyCast service manual; Proposed acquisition of Inmarsat plc by the Connect Bidco Limited Consortium and its commitment to continuing support for the recognised satellite communication services in the GMDSS; and, Review of the Indian Regional Navigation satellite system (IRNSS).


SHIP DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION.  The Committee approved, in general, the report of the sixth session of the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction (SDC 6).  Approval was also given to the draft Guidelines on the design of mooring arrangements and equipment, also that for inspection and maintenance of mooring equipment resulting in an invitation to the FAL Committee to consider the need to address training and familiarisation provisions for shore-based mooring personnel.  Draft amendments to the Guidance on shipboard towing and mooring equipment were approved but will not take effect until January 2024 upon entry into force of the associated SOLAS amendments.

Following discussion as to the Carriage of more than 12 industrial personnel on board vessels engaged on international voyages, the Committee reconfirmed the decision taken at MSC 99 to use an aggregated number comprising passengers, special personnel and industrial personnel as the qualifying criterion for the application of the draft IP Code.


SHIP SYSTEMS AND EQUIPMENT.  The Committee approved, in general, the report of the sixth session of the Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment, taking action as follows:

  • Following discussion of ‘Amendments to the Guidelines on alternative design and arrangements for SOLAS chapters II-I and III’ (MSC.1/Circ 1212), agreed to modify expected performance standard 1 (EP1) under functional requirement 8 (FR 8) by deleting the text “that prevent exposure to a long-term CO2 concentration of more than 5,000 ppm for at least 24 hours” and approved a revision of the circular;
  • Noted that the task to develop functional requirements for SOLAS chapter III has been completed;
  • Having discussed the Interim guidelines on LSA and arrangements for ships operating in polar waters, the Committee agreed that para 3.7 applies to all types of survival craft and modified it to read, “3.7.2 Survival craft should provide a habitable environment for all persons on board that prevent exposure to a long-term CO2 concentration of more than 5,000 ppm for the maximum expected time of rescue.  The ventilation should be considered in context with heating requirements to achieve a habitable temperature in the survival craft”;
  • Having concurred with some modifications proposed by HTW 6, approved an MSC.1 Circular on ‘Interim guidelines for minimising the incidence and consequences of fires in ro-ro spaces and special category spaces of new and existing ro-ro passenger ships’;
  • Agreed draft amendments emanating from SSE 6 to the ‘Guidelines for developing operation and maintenance manuals for lifeboat systems’; and,
  • Approved a draft Assembly resolution on Amendments to the ‘Use and fitting of retro-reflective materials on life-saving appliances’ for submission to A 31.


POLLUTION PREVENTION AND RESPONSE.  The Committee recalled that the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR) held its sixth session from 4 to 8 February 2019 and that its report on that session has been circulated under the symbols PPR/6/20 and PPR 6/Add.1.  It was noted that MEPC 74 adopted resolution MEPC.320(74) on 2019 Guidelines on consistent implementation of the 0.50 m/m sulphur limit under MARPOL Annex VI developed by PPR 6, containing provisions addressing possible safety implications relating to fuel oils meeting the 0.50% m/m limit and having noted concurrent approval by MEPC 74, the Committee also approved the relevant MSC-MEPC circular on ‘Delivery of compliant fuel oil by suppliers’.


IMPLEMENTATION OF THE STCW CONVENTION.  The Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW) held its sixth session from 29 April to 3 May 2019 and in accordance with the Committees’ Method of Work, the report on that session will be considered by MSC 102.  However, the Committee agreed to consider urgent matters emanating from HTW 6 which they did as follows;


  • Gave approval to the holding of an intersessional meeting of the Working Group on the review of the STCW-F convention before HTW 7;
  • With regard to the Implementation of the 1978 STCW Convention, as amended, noted the discussions at HTW 6 concerning the implementation of relevant provisions;
  • Following consideration of document MSC 101/15 (Secretariat) containing information provided by STCW Parties regarding experts made available or recommended for inclusion in the List of competent persons, as well as withdrawals, the Committee approved the inclusion of ten competent persons recommended by four STCW Parties and noted the competent persons who had been withdrawn from the List by three parties; and;
  • Noted the information by OCIMF and INTERTANKO describing the best practice guide on “Behavioural competency assessment and verification for vessel operators”  providing new means to assess and verify the behavioural competences of seafarers, focussing on non-technical behavioural soft skills, which are being implemented on board tankers.


FORMAL SAFETY ASSESSMENT.  The Committee had for its consideration document MSC 101/17 (Austria et al) providing a summary of the FIRESAFE I and II studies proposing that an FSA Experts Group be established to review the studies.  Recognising the merits of conducting an FSA study in order to benefit from its outcome when drafting fire safety related instruments in the future, the Committee agreed to establish the FSA Experts Group to review the FIRESAFE I and II studies, reporting its findings direct to SSE 7.  A meeting will take place from 18 to 20 November 2019, chaired by Mr Koichi Yoshida of Japan, for which Draft terms of reference were drawn up and agreed, instructing the Group to review FIRESAFE I and II studies regarding fire safety of ro-ro decks on passenger ships and the risk assessment criteria in the ‘Procedure for identifying safety issues’.


MEASURES TO ENHANCE MARITIME SECURITY.  The Committee noted a joint statement by the delegations of Norway, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates providing the preliminary findings of the investigation into the coordinated attacks on four oil tankers (two Saudi Arabia–flagged, one Norwegian-flagged and one UAE-flagged that took place on 12 May 2019 in the anchorage off the port of Fujairah, with a commitment to keeping the Organisation and its Members updated on this matter.

Reporting on developments related to maritime security, information was given that 24% of all port facilities registered in the maritime security module of GISIS submitted by Member States in accordance with SOLAS regulation XI-2/13.4 require updating.  New functionalities (ie web services) to enable the secure electronic transfer of information between Member States and the maritime security module of GISIS have been tested with the assistance of Norway and EMSA, and the Secretariat has finalised guidance available to all interested parties, submitted for the Committee’s approval in document MSC 101/4/3.

Following discussion, the Committee:


  • Urged SOLAS Contracting Governments to review and update the information contained in the maritime security module of GISIS, in particular that relating to port facility security plans;
  • Approved the MSC circular on ‘Guidance for the electronic transfer of information into and from the maritime security module of GISIS’, noting that the Secretariat might consider including an option to automatically generate or amend port facilities entries in GISIS in a future update of the new functionality;
  • Encouraged Member States to consider becoming Parties to the 2005 SUA Protocols which form the maritime component of the United Nations’ international counter-terrorism instruments;
  • Encouraged Member States to identify maritime security experts with experience in conducting training of officials for future technical cooperation activities; and,
  • Invited Member States to consider making donations to the International Maritime Security Trust (IMST) Fund to support the continued delivery of technical assistance under the global programme for the enhancement of maritime security.


There followed a discussion on maritime cyber risk management after which the Committee :

  • Agreed that aspects of cyber risk management, including physical security aspects of cyber security, should be addressed in Ship Security Plans under the ISPS Code. However, this should not be considered as requiring a company to establish a separate cyber security management system operating in parallel with the company SMS;
  • Confirmed that resolution MSC.428(98) on Maritime cyber risk management in ‘Safety Management Systems’ sets out the Organisation’s requirements for Administrations to ensure that cyber risks are appropriately addressed in existing SMS (as defined in the ISM Code), verified by an endorsed Document of Compliance and Safety Management Certificate, and that in the Ship Security Plan, reference should be made to cyber risk management procedures found in the SMS; and,
  • Encouraged Administrations to engage with other national and regional authorities to explain the Organisation’s requirements for cyber risk management by companies,


Rounding off this agenda item, the Committee recalled that under the ISPS Code, a Port Facility Security Plan (PFSP) must specify the procedures for facilitating;


  • Shore leave for ship’s personnel or personnel changes;
  • Seafarer access to shore-based welfare and medical facilities;
  • On board access by visitors, including representatives of seafarer’s welfare and labour organisations; and,
  • On board access by shore-based ship support personnel, including those involved with ship’s stores and bunkers.


The Committee also recalled that port facility operators and security personnel must seek a balance between the needs of security and the needs of the ship and its crew.  In this connection, consideration was given to document MSC 101/4/2 by ISSA expressing great concern regarding difficulties experienced by ship suppliers globally in accessing ports and vessels to deliver stores due to apparent ISPS Code restrictions.  Having thanked ISSA for providing information on this important issue related to seafarers’ welfare and the global maritime transportation system, the Committee noted information provided by the United States delegation that they have passed domestic legislation ensuring that seafarers’ access to port facilities be granted at no cost to the seafarer and encouragement was given to all Member States to consider what they could do to facilitate access.  It was agreed that access by authorised personnel to a ship is a necessity and Member States were encouraged to remind port authorities to ensure that the port facility security officers coordinate documentary requirements and formalities with the ship security officer, if possible, in advance of the ship’s arrival at the port facility.

PIRACY AND ARMED ROBBERY AGAINST SHIPS.  The Committee considered document MSC 101/18 submitted by the Secretariat, reporting on developments concerning piracy and armed robbery against ships since MSC 100, including relevant statistics, as well as the risks posed by anti-ship cruise missiles and water-borne improvised explosive devices (IED) in the Red Sea.  Note was taken of Secretariat initiatives to support capacity-building in the Gulf of Guinea and also, that the Secretariat is an active participant in the international Friends of the Gulf of Guinea (FoGG) group under the G7++ framework which is chaired by France and co-chaired by Ghana, meeting next in Brussels on 2 July 2019.  A progress report was given on the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combatting Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) and on the newly established Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR).  Following this, the Committee considered document MSC 101/18/3 by India on the effect on merchant ships and seafarers of armed robbery and hijacking incidents in the Gulf of Guinea.  This proposed the establishment of a contact group to coordinate international efforts towards eradication of piracy in that region, and this was supported in a submission by 16 NGOs, including InterManager (MSC 101/18/4).  There followed a lively and protracted debate after which the Committee welcomed the information related to FoGG being open to all Member States, industry, other United Nations Agencies, and non-governmental organisations.  This resulted in the Committee favouring the G7++ group as the better forum in which to address GoG issues.

Next, the Committee welcomed the information provided by the industry group related to the review and revision of the High Risk Area (HRA) to amend the geographic boundaries for piracy in the Indian Ocean as of 1 May 2019, thus reducing the area to better reflect the threat of piracy in the region.

In considering the need for standardising the reporting of global piracy and armed robbery incidents, argued in document MSC 101/18/2 (Marshall Islands et al) for the provision of greater clarity and efficiency to the global security incident reporting process, there was an immediate rebuttal from ReCAAP claiming that existing successful frameworks would suffer a negative impact.  Following a fairly lengthy discussion, it was agreed that;


  • Collation, assessment and dissemination of accurate information and statistics concerning attacks by pirates and armed robbers by sea are critical in countering the threat;
  • Further discussion and careful consideration of the issue is needed;
  • There is a clear need to uphold the primacy of coastal States in any related guidance and to respect differences in regional arrangements;
  • 1/Circ 1334 should be retained and possibly revised in the future;
  • Empirical data are important; and,
  • A clear scope and objectives of any work to be undertaken is needed, including terms of reference respecting current reporting frameworks.


UNSAFE MIXED MIGRATION BY SEA.  During the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which took place in Marrakesh, Morocco, on 10/11 December 2018, the United Nations Secretary General launched a new UN Network on Migration (subsequently endorsed by the UN General Assembly) to help support Member States as they implement the Compact.  In the ensuing discussion, a great number of aspects were covered, which included: conditions in transit countries such as Libya; Operation Sophia; Training, capacity building and monitoring of the Libyan Navy and Coast Guard (LNCG); IOMs recording of more than 55,000 arrivals by sea to Yemen so far in 2019 (as at end of April); Disembarkation in Libya not to be considered as a place of safety for delivery by shipmasters; and the fact that more people than ever are dying in their attempts to cross the Mediterranean.

The challenges faced by the shipping industry in connection with large-scale rescue at sea and the return of rescued people to a place of safety was highlighted by BIMCO and IFSMA whilst the delegation of the USA informed the Committee that they have withdrawn from the process to develop a Global Compact for migration.

With regard to reporting of migrant incidents at sea, since the launch of the Inter-agency platform for information-sharing on migrant smuggling by sea in GISIS, only seven incidents have been reported.  The Committee therefore encouraged Member States to provide and update such information via the platform.



WORK PROGRAMME.  New outputs were approved as follows:


  • Development of measures to ensure quality of onboard training as part of mandatory seagoing service required by the STCW Convention;
  • Fire protection of control stations on cargo ships;
  • Clarification of the hydrostatic testing regime for high-pressure CO2 cylinders;
  • Development of amendments to the LSA Code and resolution MSC.81(70) to address the in-water performance of SOLAS lifejackets;
  • Harmonisation of lifejacket requirements in the 1994 and 2000 HSC Codes;
  • Development of design and prototype test requirements for the arrangement used in operational testing of free-fall lifeboat release systems without launching the lifeboat;
  • Revision of the Revised recommendations on entering enclosed spaces on board ship;
  • Amendments to the International Code for the Safe Carriage of Grain in Bulk;
  • Development of SOLAS amendments for mandatory carriage of electronic inclinometers on container ships and bulk carriers;
  • Substance identification number for bulk cargoes;
  • Review of mandatory requirements in the SOLAS, MARPOL and Load Line Conventions and the IBC and IGC Codes regarding watertight doors on cargo ships;
  • Development of provisions to prohibit the use of PFOS (perfluoroctane sulfonic acid) for fire-fighting on board ships;
  • Development of measures to facilitate mandatory seagoing service required under the STCW Convention;
  • Revision of the Criteria for the provision of mobile satellite communication services in the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS);
  • Measures to improve domestic ferry safety (to be discussed at MSC 102);
  • Development of amendments to VDR performance standards and carriage requirements; and,
  • Amendments to SOLAS chapter III, LSA Code and resolution MSC.81(70) to remove the applicability of the requirement to launch free-fall lifeboats with the ship making headway at speeds up to 5 knots in calm water.


Consideration was given to the workload of the NCSR Sub-Committee and, taking into account the experience gained at NCSR 6, agreed to maintain similar working arrangements for NCSR 7, starting the eight-day extended session on a Wednesday.


With regard to public access to documents, it was agreed that Secretariat documents submitted under the agenda items on “Measures to enhance maritime security” and “Piracy and armed robbery against ships” should not be made publicly available prior to MSC 102.  Following consultation regarding intersessional meetings organised jointly with other international organisations, reports and liaison statements will also not be made publicly available.


DATE OF NEXT MEETING.  The next meeting of the Committee (MSC 102) has been provisionally scheduled to take place from Wednesday 13 to Friday 22 May 2020.



Captain Paddy McKnight





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