The IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) held its 103rd Session (MSC 103) remotely from Wednesday 5 through Friday 14 May under the extremely able Chairmanship of Mrs Mayte Medinah (United States) and her Vice-Chair, Commander Theofilos Mozas (Greece), both of whom were elected at the beginning of the meeting given that the previous incumbents had declared themselves unavailable. A total of 110 Member States presented their Credentials for the meeting supported by a number of Associate Member States and representatives from the United Nations Programmes, plus specialised agencies. In addition, Intergovernmental organisations and Non-governmental organisations were also well represented.
Three Working Groups and one Drafting Group were formed and chaired as follows:
WG1 MASS, Mr H. Tunfors (Sweden)
WG2 Piracy, Captain D. Attachie (Ghana)
WG3 Fuel Oil Safety, Mr C. Allgeier (Germany)
DG1 Amendments to mandatory instruments, Mr N. Boldt (Germany)
ADDRESS BY THE SECRETARY GENERAL. In his traditional welcoming address, the Secretary-General stated that the IMO Secretariat is continuing to work tirelessly with other UN sister organisations and industry partners to encourage Member states in recognising seafarers as “key workers”, and to prioritise their vaccination, thereby facilitating their safe movements across borders. He revealed that, to date, only 58 relevant notifications had been received, about one third of IMO’s membership.
On the positive side, the number of seafarers awaiting repatriation or joining of ships had significantly reduced from 400,000 to 200,000. This led him neatly to this year’s world maritime theme which is, “Seafarers: at the core of shipping’s future”, a theme providing a unique opportunity to help protect seafarers’ rights and raise awareness of their exceptional contribution as key workers, always on the front line of delivering world trade despite the ongoing pandemic.
Turning to the agenda for the meeting, he noted the allocation of a dedicated Working Group to address security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea, confident that it will take us a step closer to solving the security crisis in that region. With regard to the ongoing regulatory scoping exercise for the use of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS), he stated that we must keep in mind the objective, which is to identify items for further discussion in the future, rather than to discuss or decide on recommendations at this stage. The Committee is expected to adopt draft amendments to eight mandatory instruments, including SOLAS, the STCW Convention and Code; and the 1988 Load Lines Protocol together with related amendments to two non-mandatory instruments to be finalised for approval.
Another key issue he highlighted is the development of further measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of fuel oil noting that it has been more than a year since the entry into force of the 2020 sulphur limit MARPOL regulations, transition to which has been pleasingly smooth. Following on from the resolution adopted at the last MSC meeting on recommended interim measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of oil fuel and its related action plan, the Committee is expected to carefully consider issues associated with blended fuels in order to mitigate associated safety risks.
Finally, Mr Lim recorded his pleasure in reporting that the GBS (Goal Based Standards) Audit programme has been carried out as planned and the Committee will be invited to consider the report on the non-conformities of IACS and DNV-GL ship construction rules.
In closing, he observed the diversity of subjects on the agenda but expressed confidence in achieving satisfactory solutions and wished the Committee well in their deliberations.
CONSIDERATION AND ADOPTION OF AMENDMENTS TO MANDATORY INSTRUMENTS.
General. Contracting Governments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention were invited to consider and adopt proposed amendments to:
- SOLAS chapters II-1 and III;
- The International Code on the Enhanced Programme of Inspections during surveys of Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers 2011 (2011 ESP Code);
- The International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (IGC Code);
- The International Code for Fire Safety Systems (FSS Code); and,
- The International Life-Saving Appliance (LSA) Code.
In addition, the Committee was also invited to consider and adopt consequential draft amendments to the Revised recommendation on testing of life-saving appliances, and to approve a draft MSC circular on voluntary early implementation of the draft amendments to SOLAS chapter III and the LSA Code.
Parties to the 1978 STCW Convention were invited to consider and adopt proposed amendments to chapter I of the 1978 STCW Convention and section A-I/1 of the STCW Code, whilst parties to the Protocol of 1988 relating to the International Convention on Load Lines 1966 (1988 Load Lines Protocol) were similarly requested regarding chapters II and III of Annex B.
Proposed Amendments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention. Document 103/3/3 (Belgium et al) commenting on the draft new regulation II-1/25-1 approved at MSC 102 with respect to the differences of water level detectors and bilge level alarm sensors, was discussed and its recommended modifications agreed.
Proposal to revise Performance standards for water level detectors on bulk carriers and single hold cargo ships other than bulk carriers (resolution MSC. 188(79)). Following consideration of document 103/3/4 (Belgium et al), it was agreed to add to the title “and single hold cargo ships other than bulk carriers” and to instruct the SDC Sub-Committee to review the Performance Standards to include provisions for detectors for multiple hold cargo ships and to consider the equivalency between bilge alarms and water level detectors, with an extended target completion year of 2022.
Draft amendments to the 2011 ESP Code. No comments were submitted on this item regarding the minimum requirements for thickness measurements at renewal surveys of double-hull tankers, therefore the Committee confirmed the proposed amendments as set out in document MSC 103/WP.5
Draft amendments to the IGC Code. Document 103/3/5 (Australia et al) proposed modifications to draft amendments to extend the requirement for quick-acting or single-action type arrangement to hinged watertight doors that are “permanently closed” at sea. However, following extensive consideration, the Committee deferred further discussion to MSC 104 and agreed to inform MEPC 76 regarding the outcome on the impact of associated amendments to MARPOL and the IBC Code.
Draft amendments to the FSS Code. It was recalled that MSC 102 had approved draft amendments to chapter 9 (Fixed fire detection and fire alarm systems) of the FSS Code, concerning fault isolation requirements for cargo ships and passenger ship cabin balconies fitted with individually identifiable fire detector systems. Having noted that no contesting comments had been submitted, the amendments were approved.
Draft amendments to the LSA Code. Draft amendments to chapter IV (Survival craft) of the LSA Code concerning the exclusion of free-fall lifeboats from the requirement of being capable of launching and towing when the ship is making headway at a speed of up to 5 knots in calm water were confirmed.
Proposed amendments to the 1978 STCW Convention and the STCW Code. The inclusion of a new definition of the term “high voltage” in chapter 1 (General Provisions) of the 1978 STCW Convention, approved by MSC 102, was confirmed by the Committee in the absence of submitted comment.
It was recalled that MSC 102 had approved draft amendments to section A-I/1 of the STCW Code, concerning the definition of “operational level” to include the capacity “electro-technical officer” as a consequential amendment to the introduction of this capacity as part of the 2010 Manila Amendments. Accordingly, the Committee confirmed the contents of the proposed amendments to the STCW Code.
Proposed amendments to the 1988 Load Lines Protocol. MSC 102 approved draft amendments to chapters II (Conditions of assignment of freeboard) and III (Freeboards) (Regulations for determining load lines) of Annex B to the 1988 Load Lines Protocol concerning amendments to the acceptable arrangements of scuppers and discharges, as well as satisfactory condition of equilibrium after flooding, respectively. In consideration of proposed modifications to the above amendments in document MSC 103/3/5 (Australia et al), the Committee recalled its earlier decision concerning proposed identical modifications to the IGC Code, and deferred further discussion to MSC 104, inviting relevant submissions, whilst informing MEPC 76 accordingly.
Draft amendments to the Revised recommendation on testing of LSA (resolution MSC.81(70)). It was recalled that MSC 102 had approved, in principle, draft consequential amendments to the Revised recommendation on testing of life-saving appliances emanating from the draft amendments to SOLAS chapter III and the LSA Code, with a view to adoption in conjunction with the adoption of the draft amendments to SOLAS regulation III/33 and chapter IV of the LSA Code. No comments were received, following which the Committee confirmed its contents.
Draft MSC circular on voluntary early implementation of the draft amendments to SOLAS chapter III and the LSA Code. The Committee recalled that SSE 7 had invited it to approve a draft MSC circular on voluntary early implementation of the draft amendments to SOLAS chapter III and the LSA Code, in conjunction with the adoption of the draft amendments to SOLAS regulation III/33.2 and paragraph 22.214.171.124.2 of the LSA Code regarding testing requirements of free-fall lifeboats. This proposal was duly agreed by the Committee and the contents of the draft circular confirmed.
Establishment of the Drafting Group. Having considered the above matters, the Committee established the Drafting Group on Amendments to Mandatory Instruments and instructed it, taking into account comments made and decisions taken in Plenary, to prepare, for consideration by the Committee with a view to adoption and/or approval, as appropriate, final text of the matters already mentioned.
The report of the Drafting Group was subsequently approved by the Committee in general, and in particular:
- Adopted the draft MSC resolution on amendments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention;
- Adopted the draft resolution on amendments to the 2011 ESP Code;
- Adopted the draft resolution on amendments to the FSS Code;
- Adopted the draft resolution to the LSA Code;
- Adopted the draft MSC resolution on amendments to the STCW Code;
- Adopted the draft MSC resolution on amendments to Revised recommendation on testing of life-saving appliances;
- Approved the draft MSC circular on voluntary early implementation of the draft amendments to SOLAS chapter III and the LSA Code; and,
- Authorised the Secretariat to effect minor editorial corrections where necessary.
REGULATORY SCOPING EXERCISE (RSE) FOR THE USE OF MARITIME AUTONOMOUS SURFACE SHIPS (MASS).
The Committee recalled that MSC 100 had approved the RSE framework for the use of MASS, completion of work which had been delayed by the pandemic but should be completed at this session.
Report of the Intersessional Working Group on MASS. The Committee noted the Group’s consideration of the results of the first step of the RSE and that the Group had commenced the second step for all instruments and matters to be considered. Note was also taken of the expected outcome of the RSE which had provided guidance on the required format and content of the necessary input and what the outcome to be finally agreed should contain;
- A background section, amongst others including the process followed during RSE;
- Information for all degrees of autonomy for every instrument under MSC’s purview expected to be affected by MASS operations;
- The most appropriate way of addressing MASS operations in those instruments;
- Identification of themes and/or potential gaps that require addressing;
- Identification of possible links between instruments;
- Identification of priorities for further work, including terminology and the order in which instruments should be addressed, taking into account common themes and potential gaps; and,
- References to the material produced before and during RSE, in particular, IMO documents.
Results of the second step of the RSE. The committee referred the reports provided by volunteering Member States containing the results of the second step of the RSE, direct to the MASS working Group, without consideration in Plenary together with a very large number of submissions by Member States.
Common potential gaps and/or themes. With respect to the common potential gaps and/or themes identified during the RSE, five documents were considered (submitted by Germany, IACS, the Islamic Republic of Iran and two by the ROK), following which the Committee noted the information provided and referred them to the MASS Working Group.
Development of internationally agreed terminology. The documents submitted by ISO, the ROK, IACS and the Islamic Republic of Iran were considered, following which the Committee:
- Invited ISO to take the Committee’s discussion into account when continuing their work on MASS terminology;
- Agreed that the development of a harmonised and well-defined terminology was essential; and,
- Referred document MSC 103/5/3 by ISO to the Mass Working Group for further consideration.
Future work. A number of documents were submitted by the Russian Federation, China and IMSO, all of which the Committee decided to keep in abeyance for future consideration when the particular topics become part of the work programme.
Coordination of work between the Maritime Safety, Legal and Facilitation Committees. While there was wide support for the establishment of a joint LEG/MSC/FAL Working Group to coordinate MASS-related regulatory work, the Committee deemed that it would be premature to do so now, recognising that the Committees had not yet completed the RSE for instruments under their purview, and that any future work on MASS undertaken by a joint WG would require the identification of common potential gaps and/or themes as well as priorities for future work by all three Committees. In this connection, it was recalled that the establishment of a joint WG would require a new output, agreed and approved by all three Committees but that in the interim, active liaison between the Committees on the common issues with the aim to align future work should be encouraged.
Immediate further work on MASS. Having noted the Industry’s fast advancement with respect to developing MASS technology and conducting trials, most notably by the Russian Federation and Japan, some delegations supported the inclusion of a standing agenda item on MASS and the establishment of an intersessional WG. However, it was concluded that a focussed approach is needed to progress the work on MASS and that a standing agenda item would not be an efficient way to address the complexity of MASS regulatory development. Views were also expressed that consideration of the “role of the Master” and the review of terminology should be considered and decided on before regulatory work on any instrument could commence; and also, the need for a road map, detailing priorities for further work.
While there was consensus on the eventual establishment of an intersessional MASS WG and the development of corresponding TORs to facilitate immediate commencement of future work based on the RSE identified potential gaps and/or themes and priorities for future work, the Committee noted that the current output is limited to the completion of the RSE for MASS and that any further work requires a new output proposal. With this in mind, interested Member States were invited to submit proposals for new output(s) on MASS to a future session of the Committee.
Establishment of a working group. The Committee noted document MSC 103/WP.11 by the Chair of the MASS WG, containing a draft assessment of the degree to which the existing regulatory framework under the purview of the Committee might be affected in order to address MASS operations, and agreed to use it as a base document to prepare the outcome of the RSE. The MASS WG was duly established and instructed to report the outcome of the RSE, containing as a minimum:
- Information for all degrees of autonomy for every instrument under the purview of MSC expected to be affected by MASS operations;
- The most appropriate way of addressing MASS operations in those instruments;
- Identification of common themes and/or potential gaps that require addressing;
- Identification of possible links between instruments; and
- Identification of priorities for further work, including terminology and the order in which instruments could be addressed taking into account common themes and potential gaps.
Having considered the report of the MASS WG, the Committee approved it in general and approved the draft outcome of the RSE for the use of MASS as set out in the annex to the report.
DEVELOPMENT OF FURTHER MEASURES TO ENHANCE THE SAFETY OF SHIPS RELATING TO THE USE OF FUEL OIL.
Background. The Committee recalled that MSC 101 adopted Recommended interim measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of oil fuel (resolution MSC.465(101); endorsed the related action plan and established a Correspondence Group (CG) to continue work on the development of further measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of oil fuel. In the event, MSC 102 postponed consideration of the agenda item to this session.
Outcome of MEPC 75. The Committee recalled that MSC 101:
- Agreed that a GISIS platform for the reporting of non-compliance with flashpoint requirements should be developed;
- Invited interested parties to participate in the CG on Data Collection and Analysis under Regulation 18 of MARPOL Annex VI established by MEPC 74; and,
- Requested the Secretariat to provide the outcome related to the GISIS module to the MEPC CG
MSC 101 invited MEPC 75 to advise on the outcome of the investigation for the reporting of additional items on GISIS, in particular regarding the reporting of confirmed cases where oil fuel suppliers delivered fuel failing to meet the requirements specified in SOLAS regulation II-2/4.2.1 in the GISIS module. However, MEPC 75 deferred consideration of the Report of the CG on data collection and analysis to MEPC 76 which meets in mid-June 2021.
Report of the CG. The Committee had for its consideration the report of the CG in document MSC 102/6 (Germany) together with four related documents.
Reporting confirmed cases. In considering the CG’s discussion on reporting confirmed cases where oil fuel suppliers failed to meet the flashpoint requirements, the Committee instructed the WG to further develop mandatory requirements regarding the reporting of confirmed cases where oil fuel suppliers failed to meet the flashpoint requirements, based on annex 1 to document MSC 102/6, taking into account other related documents.
Actions against oil fuel suppliers in confirmed cases of deliveries of oil fuel not complying with flashpoint requirements. The CG’s discussion on action against oil fuel suppliers in this instance was considered by the Committee. Views were expressed, following which the Committee instructed the WG to:
- Further consider the implementation of licensing schemes for bunker suppliers as part of actions to further enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of fuel oil; and,
- Further develop mandatory requirements to ensure that SOLAS Contracting Governments take necessary action against oil fuel suppliers in confirmed cases of deliveries of non-compliant oil fuel.
Documentation of the flashpoint of the actual fuel batch when bunkering. In considering the CG’s discussion on requirements regarding such documentation, the Committee noted a number of views:
- The benefits and effectiveness of further regulations regarding flashpoint are not proven and there is no merit in requiring the flashpoint of the actual fuel batch from a practical perspective;
- The proposal in paragraph 14 to document MSC 102/6/2 should be carefully considered, in particular with regard to the mandating of the sample location;
- The flashpoint of the actual fuel batch when bunkering should be documented and fuel suppliers should verify the flashpoint in accordance with SOLAS requirements; and,
- Through incident investigations, significant differences of flashpoint among different batches have been found and the impacts on the safety of ships and seafarers needs to be addressed.
The Committee then instructed the WG to further develop mandatory requirements regarding the documentation of the flashpoint of the actual fuel batch when bunkering, taking into account annex 3 to document MSC 102/6 and document MSC 102/6/2.
Guidelines for ships to address situations where they have indicative test results suggesting that oil fuel supplied may not comply with flashpoint requirements. The Committee considered the CG’s discussion on guidelines for ships to address situations where indicative results indicate that the oil fuel supplied may not comply with SOLAS regulation II-2/4.2.1and noted the following views:
- Ships’ voluntary fuel tests should be encouraged and measures taken in case of indicative test results obtained from the ships own test carefully considered;
- Measures which may cause deviation from the planned route or undue delay of the voyage, resulting in a negative incentive for carrying out ships’ voluntary tests, should be avoided;
- Flashpoints below 60 degrees Celsius are relatively rare and the existing operational procedures should prevent accidents in case of flashpoints measured a few degrees lower than 60; safety procedures and equipment should therefore be designed to tolerate a flashpoint slightly below the limit;
- The Committee should develop guidelines on pragmatic and workable measures to address situations where indicative test results suggest that the oil fuel supplied may fall slightly below the SOLAS requirement;
- The development of guidelines for ships to address situations where they have indicative test results suggesting that the oil fuel supplied may not comply with SOLAS regulation II-2/4.2.1 should be supported and document MSC 102/INF.19 should be taken into account by the WG.
Accordingly, the Committee instructed the WG to develop guidelines for ships to address such situations where they have indicative test results suggesting that the oil fuel may be non-compliant.
Measures related to oil fuel parameters other than flashpoint. Following consideration of information in document MSC 102/24 on possible measures related to oil fuel parameters other than flashpoint, the Committee instructed the WG to consider further possible actions, including measures related to oil fuel parameters other than flashpoint.
Action plan for measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of oil fuel. Noting that the action plan for measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of oil fuel (MSC 101/24, annex 13) may require updating, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent postponement of related work, the Committee instructed the WG to update the plan, taking into account the progress made at this session.
Establishment of the Working Group (WG). Having considered the above matters, the Committee established the WG on Measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of oil fuel having issued terms of reference to reflect comments and decisions made in plenary. Following scrutiny of the WG’s subsequent report, the Committee approved it in general, and in particular:
- Noted the progress made by the Group on the draft SOLAS amendments on reporting of confirmed cases where flashpoint requirements have not been met;
- Noted the progress made by the Group on the draft SOLAS amendments on actions against oil fuel suppliers that have been found to deliver oil fuel that does not comply with minimum flashpoint requirements;
- Noted the progress made by the Group on the development of mandatory requirements regarding the documentation of the flashpoint of the actual fuel batch when bunkering;
- Noted the progress made by the Group on the development of guidelines for ships to address situations where indicative test results suggest that the oil fuel supplied may not comply with flashpoint requirements;
- Noted the deliberation of the Group with regard to coordination between MSC and MEPC;
- Invited IMO Member States to submit information on cases where oil fuel jeopardised the safety of ships or personnel or adversely affected the performance of the machinery;
- Noted the deliberation of the Group with regard to licensing schemes for bunker suppliers and invited Member States to consider the implementation of licensing schemes for bunker suppliers operating in their jurisdiction;
- Noted the list of relevant information and references compiled by the Group to support the work of the CG, if established;
- Endorsed the updated action plan for measures to enhance the safety of ships related to the use of oil fuel;
- Extended the target completion date for the output “development of further measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of fuel oil” to 2023; and,
- Agreed the recommendation to re-establish the CG on this output with terms of reference as proposed by the Group.
Re-establishment of the CG. In order to progress the work intersessionally, the Committee established the CG on Fuel Oil Safety, under the coordination of Mr Allgeier of Germany, with terms of reference reflecting progress of the work to date.
MEASURES TO IMPROVE DOMESTIC FERRY SAFETY.
Background. The Committee recalled that MSC 101 agreed to include a new item on “Measures to improve domestic ferry safety”; to develop Model Regulations and provide guidance on them in domestic law; to develop online training material on domestic ferry safety; and, continue to provide technical assistance to countries in need through the Organisation’s ITCP.
MSC 101 approved a plan of work led by the Secretariat with a view to reporting to MSC 102 but which was deferred to this session, with an extension to the target date for completion.
Progress reports. Having considered document MSC 102/8 by the Secretariat, providing information on progress made since MSC 101, the committee:
- Noted the latest development of the basic structure of the draft model regulations;
- Endorsed the list of observed and potential gaps in domestic ferry safety;
- Invited IMLI to note the developments with a view to incorporation of the model regulations into, perhaps, domestic legislation of their students’ respective countries;
- Endorsed the outcome of the regional workshop held in Nigeria in October 2019;
- Noted the updated plan of work;
- Considered the future status of the framework model regulations including the possibility of a standalone convention on domestic ferry safety;
- Noted the complexities involved in determining the status of the draft framework;
- Approved, in principle, the basic structure of the framework Model Regulations;
- Noted the Secretariat’s deliberations on the development of online training material;
- Noted the potential development of a joint IMO and United Nations ESCAP database on domestic ferry safety which could be incorporated in the new Country Maritime Profile module in GISIS.
Bangkok Declaration 2020. The Committee, having considered the Bangkok Declaration on Enhancing Domestic Ferry Safety in Asia and the Pacific Region and the Development of Model regulations on Domestic Ferry Safety, endorsed the Declaration.
Proposals on the development of model regulations, guidance and online training. In the context of developing Model Regulations on Domestic Ferry Safety, guidance on the incorporation of the regulations in domestic law, and online training, the Committee considered a number of documents. In the ensuing discussion, the following views were expressed:
- The draft model regulations are framework in nature and not prescriptive;
- The regulations are flexible and interested countries may adapt them according to their needs; and,
- Technical cooperation plays an important role in improving domestic ferry safety.
Model Regulations on domestic Ferry Safety. The Committee noted document MSC 103/8 by the Secretariat providing a further update on the work of domestic ferry safety, noted the updated work plan and the following comments on the model regulations set out in annex 1 of the document:
- Some of the provisions in the model regulations need further thorough consideration;
- Concerns regarding the delegation of authority;
- The relation of the model regulations with the publicly available global regulations developed by the Organisation need clarification;
- The responsibilities of the master should be reconsidered, taking into account the provisions of the ISM Code; and,
- While the non-mandatory nature of the model regulations has been confirmed, the language used is of a mandatory nature.
Having agreed that the draft model regulations, while supported in general, needed further work, the Committee agreed to establish a Working Group on domestic Ferry Safety at MSC 104 to further develop them. The Committee thanked the Secretariat for taking forward the development of the regulations in collaboration with stakeholders, particularly ESCAP and INTERFERRY, also the Government of Thailand in facilitating the observation of domestic ferry safety in Thai waters.
MEASURES TO ENHANCE MARITIME SECURITY.
Updates on developments related to maritime security. The Committee noted information reporting on the delivery of maritime security-related activities as part of the Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP), including information regarding two EU funded port security projects currently being implemented by the Secretariat. This encouraged the promotion of “a whole of government and industry” approach to addressing maritime security threats and risks, focussing on the strategic level in the delivery of IMO’s technical assistance. In this context, the Committee encouraged SOLAS Contracting Governments to:
- Review and update the information contained in the Maritime Security module of GISIS, in particular that related to port facility security plans;
- Consider using the new option for electronic transfer of information into and from the Maritime Security module of GISIS so as to reduce the administrative burden;
- Develop effective maritime security governance structures;
- Continue to effectively implement, in partnership with industry, IMO security measures, including SOLAS chapter XI-2 and the ISPS Code; and,
- Consider donating to the International Maritime Security Trust (IMST) Fund to support continued delivery of technical assistance under the global programme for the enhancement of maritime assistance.
Cyber risk management for ships and ports. The Committee recalled that, when approving the Guidelines on maritime cyber risk management, it underlined that they are complementary to the ISM and ISPS Codes. Also, they include functional elements supporting effective cyber risk management, providing references to further detailed guidance including the industry guidelines on cybersecurity on board ships. Three documents were submitted for consideration and in the ensuing discussion, the Committee noted the voluntary nature of The Guidelines on cyber security onboard ships and that issuing them under cover of an MSC circular should not be taken to mean that it had endorsed every detail, but rather recognised the helpfulness of the Guidelines and promoted their availability.
Following discussion, the Committee:
- Noted with appreciation the information provided on initiatives relating to cyber risk management for both ships and ports;
- Approved the dissemination of the fourth version Guidelines on cyber security onboard ships by means of an MSC Circular; and,
- Requested the Secretariat to update the industry guidance listed in paragraph 4.2 of the Guidelines on maritime cyber risk management (MSC-FAL.1/Circ.3) to include the consolidated Recommendation on cyber resiliencesubject to concurrence by the FAL Committee.
Maritime safety and security in the Red Sea. The Committee considered document MSC 103/9/3 (Islamic Republic of Iran) providing information on recent incidents involving commercial shipping in the Red Sea, suggesting that IMO should recognise the Red Sea as a high-risk area, requiring further regional collaboration. The proposal received very little support in the discussion that followed in plenary but in any case, the Committee found the issue to be outside its remit and, therefore, did not lend its support.
Passenger facilitation and control. The Committee considered document MSC 103/9/4 submitted by WCO on WCO-led initiatives to develop measures for passenger facilitation and control, for cruise ships and ferries in particular, discussing the need for Advanced Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Record (PNR) data standards and transmission methodology.
Following discussion, the Committee:
- Noted the information provided by the WCO initiatives relating to facilitation and control and, in particular, on the Cruise Ship Report – Way Forward to improve Cruise Ship Controls, including consideration to contribute to the Compendium of Best Practices to ensure knowledge of the ISPS Code for customs administrations;
- Invited Member States to share their national practices in the area of cruise ship passenger controls and pre-arrival information for security;
- Invited Member States to consider regular attendance at the relevant WCO working bodies, primarily the planned WCO Passenger Control and Facilitation Working Group and requested the Secretariat also to do so, reporting back on developments to MSC as well as informing the FAL Committee on the outcome of deliberations.
PIRACY AND ARMED ROBBERY AGAINST SHIPS.
Developments since MSC 101, including information sharing on incidents of piracy and armed robbery. Concerning piracy and armed robbery against ships since MSC 101, including those from the Djibouti Code of Conduct, the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) and risks to shipping in littoral waters off Yemen, it was noted that:
- There were 226 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships reported in 2020. This constituted an increase of about 17% at the global level compared to the previous year. The areas most affected in 2020 were West Africa (87 incidents), the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (48 incidents) and South China sea (37 incidents). The number of incidents that took place in the Gulf of Guinea (West Africa) increased by 20 compared to 2019, with a total of 112 crew members reported as kidnapped or missing;
- In relation to initiatives in the GoG, the Secretariat in 2020 continued its support for the Interregional Coordination Centre (ICC) for implementation of the Yaounde Code of Conduct (YCC). IMO was facilitating a series of expert level dialogues to assess the current implementation of the YCC and provide recommendations for the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), the Economic Community of Central West Africa States (ECCAS) and the Gulf of Guinea commission (GCC);
- The aim of a new UNDP project on Explosive ordnance contamination in Yemen’s littoral waters was to provide safe areas within which vessels could operate with a degree of confidence without the effects of Explosive ordnance, and to clear those items of ordnance deemed high-threat and high impact. Notable events that had a potential to affect shipping would be disseminated with a Notice to Mariners.
Having considered the information provided by the Secretariat, the Committee:
- Requested Member States to report incidents of piracy and armed robbery to the Secretariat at [email protected], using the reporting form in appendix 5 to MSC.1/Circ.1333/Rev.1;
- Requested Member States to provide and keep updated the information related to their National Point(s) of Contact for communication of information through the Contact Points module of GISIS;
- Requested Member States to complete and keep updated the Questionnaire on information on port and coastal State requirements related to privately contracted armed security personnel on board ships (PCASP) to be sent to the Secretariat through [email protected] for posting on the IMO website;
- Noted the efforts undertaken to ensure continued implementation of the Djbouti Code of Conduct (CoC) and the Yaounde CoC, including the support provided to ICC;
- Reminded companies, masters and seafarers to continue diligent application of existing IMO guidance and the Global counter-piracy guidance, including updated guidance for protection in the GoG region – Best Management Practices West Africa;
- Invited Member States to continue to provide naval assets off the coast of Somalia and flag States to continue to monitor the threat to ships flying their flag, and set appropriate security levels in accordance with the ISPS Code;
- Noted the information provided by UNDP regarding the conflict in Yemen, including the threat to shipping and seaports posed by sea mines and other improvised explosive devices in Yemen’s littoral waters; and,
- Called upon Member States, in line with resolution A.1069(28), in cooperation with the Organisation and as may be requested by Member States of the region, to assist efforts in the region and consider making financial contributions to the IMO WCA Maritime Security Trust Fund.
Progress report of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combatting Piracy and Armed Robbery against ships in Asia (ReCAAP-ISC). The Committee thanked
ReCAAP-ISC for providing an update of the activities carried out and the situation report of piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia. In this regard, the observer from ReCAAP-ISC made a statement including information concerning a decrease of total incidents in Asia in the first quarter of 2021.The delegation of Indonesia made a statement expressing concern regarding reputational damage caused by reporting incidents of so-called petty theft under the definition of armed robbery, a claim to which Re-CAAP-ISC responded and refuted.
Comments and analysis on the review of the high-risk area (HRA) for piracy in the Indian Ocean. The Committee recalled that MSC 101 noted information from the industry authors related to the 2019 review of the geographical boundaries of the HRA to better reflect the threat of piracy in the region while retaining the primary objective to ensure the safety and security of seafarers. Kenya presented a number of key considerations on the status of Kenyan waters and in a separate statement, outlined the contributions by the Kenyan government and the African Union Mission to Somalia Forces in neutralising the threat posed by Somali pirates. This was evidenced by no attacks occurring in Kenyan waters since the last review of the HRA but there are negative economic effects stemming from the current classification to Kenya and the wider East African region. Thus Kenya invited the Committee to recommend to the appropriate bodies to consider excluding the specific adjacent area to the south of the Equator from the HRA.
In response, the industry group advised that a new review of the HRA commenced in February 2021 and revealed that two consultations had already taken place with Kenya as part of the currently ongoing review. While Kenyan concerns were well understood, some of the waters concerned to the south of the Equator are Somali waters and it is necessary to keep the overarching aim of ensuring seafarers safety in mind.
In view of the above, the Committee encouraged the industry group and appropriate bodies to continue the work with regional stakeholders, including coastal States and military authorities; and requested them to provide an update to MSC 104, taking into account further consultations with Kenya.
Piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Gulf of Guinea. Addressing the Committee, the Secretary-General expressed his serious concern over the current situation in the GoG which presented a worrying threat in view of the increasing number of attacks. Given the urgency to protect seafarers performing their duties on ships in the region, it was agreed that all documents relating to piracy and armed robbery against ships in the GoG should be referred directly to the WG on Piracy.
The delegation of Portugal concurred with the Secretary-General’s call for action whilst the delegation of Nigeria informed on their efforts and initiatives undertaken. This included the establishment of a sub-committee to enable a robust collaboration between the Nigerian Maritime Administration and the Safety Agency’s command, control, communication, computers and intelligence operations, also the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) and the MOAT-GoG centre.
The observer from IMB informed the Committee that actions to allow relevant authorities to be notified immediately had secured good outcomes thanks to early notification by shipowners. He stated that a dedicated single information platform for the GoG could be helpful, including identification of the responding authority, reduced response times, and alerting responses by neighbouring authorities.
There followed an extensive discussion after which the Committee agreed that:
- The many and complex challenges associated with the fast-changing nature of piracy in the GoG require a holistic, integrated and global approach, focussed on reaching lasting solutions that reinforce local and regional ownership;
- There is a need for sustained technical cooperation activities on anti-piracy benefitting the regional countries, such as providing training workshops/webinars, developing online courses and conducting anti-piracy exercises to improve collaboration between countries;
- Submitted documents form a good basis for discussion in the WG;
- The Yaounde Code of Conduct framework, supported by the G7++Friends of the Gulf of Guinea is a long term solution, but is progressing well;
- Nigeria and the ICC in Yaounde have formed a new collaborative forum to galvanise regional and international efforts, purposed to facilitate shared awareness and deconfliction of activities in the GoG;
- The Secretary-General should continue to work with other UN bodies, Member States and regional and international partners in order to align efforts and support, in particular Nigerian and ICC initiatives;
- Regional states should support and collaborate to accept transfer of arrested pirates, prosecution of suspected pirates and imprisonment of convicted pirates; and,
- The tasks of the WG should be prioritised to ensure sufficient time for important outcomes, such as the updated Assembly resolution (MSC 103/10/1).
Establishment of a Working Group on Piracy. The Committee issued terms of reference to the WG, reflecting the many submissions prepared by delegations and the lengthy
discussions held in Plenary. Following the work carried out by the Group, the Committee approved its report in general, and in particular:
- Adopted the draft MSC resolution on recommended action to address piracy and armed robbery in the GoG;
- Acknowledged the progress made on a draft Assembly resolution updating the previous resolution A.1069(28) on Prevention and suppression of piracy, armed robbery against ships and illicit maritime activity in the Gulf of Guinea;
- Agreed to finalise the draft resolution at MSC 104 for approval with a view to submission to A 32 for adoption, noting the outstanding issues highlighted by the Group;
- Noted that the Secretariat will update MSC.1/Circ.1601 on revised Industry Counter Piracy guidance, replacing annex 3 with the BMP West Africa guidance;
- Noted the Groups discussion on the need for cooperative mechanisms for countering piracy and armed robbery against ships in the GoG region, and the international framework as announced by Nigeria and the ICC;
- Noted the updates provided during the Group’s discussions on the status of regional and international efforts to arrest and prosecute suspected pirates and the encouragement for future updates;
- Noted the Group’s discussion on considerations of options for available protection solutions and their implications; and,
- Noted the Group’s identified reasons for under-reporting of piracy and armed robbery incidents with a view to optimising current incident reporting, response coordination and information-sharing mechanisms, and the recommendation that this should be discussed at the next session.
Verification of reports of piracy and armed robbery incidents. The Committee considered document MSC 102/14 (Argentina et al) presenting an analysis of the findings of a regional study on incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships registered in the GISIS module and requesting the Committee to implement a mechanism for prior validation of the information by coastal States, in order not to compromise the integrity of GISIS statistics, particularly with regard to incidents not involving physical violence against the crew.
Following discussion, the Committee thanked the co-sponsors for drawing attention to the importance of accurate reporting, and:
- Agreed that collation, assessment and dissemination of accurate information and statistics on attacks by pirates and armed robbers at sea is critical in countering the threat;
- Noted that the Committee had earlier requested Member States to continue to report incidents to the Secretariat and had also requested Member States to provide and make use of the National Point(s) of Contact for communication of information on piracy and armed robbery;
- Noted that, should there be a rise in incidents being disputed or found inaccurate by Member States concerned, the Secretariat could consider amending the GISIS module to allow easier identification of disputed incidents in regard to the compiled statistics generated from the module; and,
- Requested the Secretariat to study the matter and report to the next session of the Committee, taking into account document MSC 102/10/4 and the comments made in plenary.
HUMAN ELEMENT, TRAINING AND WATCHKEEPING.
Urgent matters emanating from HTW 7. The Committee considered matters emanating from HTW 7 and took action as indicated below
Strategic direction on the human element. Taking into account the broad spectrum of areas that the human element embraces, and its ongoing relevance, especially during the pandemic, the Committee agreed to request Council 125 to include a specific strategic direction on the human element in the current Strategic Plan for the Organisation.
Correspondence Group on COVID-19 Training and Certification Matters. The Committee endorsed the establishment of the Group and the submission of its report to MSC 104 in order to expedite action on this matter.
Approval of competent persons. Following consideration, the Committee approved the inclusion and updated information of four competent persons to the list maintained by the Secretary-General and noted one withdrawal.
Joint ILO/IMO working group to identify and address seafarers’ issues and the human element. The Committee approved, in principle, the establishment of a standing joint ILO/IMO working group to identify and address seafarers’ issues and the human element subject to the approval of the terms of reference and other arrangements for the standing group as may be provided in the STC resolution. Council 125 will be invited to endorse this decision, in principle, subject to approval of the Group’s method of work, as may be provided in the resolution to be adopted by the STC of ILO, by relevant IMO Committees.
NAVIGATION, COMMUNICATIONS AND SEARCH AND RESCUE.
Amendments to the IAMSAR Manual. The Committee recalled that MSC 102 had authorised the Secretariat to submit draft amendments to the Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue Manual (IAMSAR Manual), as finalised by the twenty-seventh meeting of the ICAO/IMO Joint Working Group on Harmonisation of Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue, directly to MSC 103 for approval. In this context, the Committee considered document MSC 103/14 (Secretariat) containing the said draft amendments, and taking into account ICAO’s concurrence with the inclusion of the draft amendments in the 2022 edition of the IAMSAR Manual, approved an MSC Circular on Amendments to the IAMSAR Manual.
Dissemination of MSI and SAR-related information over multiple GMDSS recognised mobile satellite services. MSC 102 considered the report of NCSR 7 and agreed to defer matters concerning the cost implications for maritime safety information (MSI) and SAR information providers to MSC 103. In this connection, four documents were submitted providing comment on cost implications and one from the Secretariat providing background information on considerations at NCSR 7 and MSC 102 on this matter. Decisions taken at NCSR 8 on these issues, including broadcast monitoring were also taken into account.
Before inviting comments, the Chair provided a summary of the main issues, highlighting in particular the important role of MSI and SAR information providers (i.e. NAVAREA and METAREA Coordinators and SAR services), in ensuring timely dissemination of information over recognised mobile satellite services for the benefit of the whole shipping community and the need to address the cost burden associated with the recognition of new mobile satellite services for use in GMDSS. Comments were invited on the cost issue and on the possible establishment of a CG to progress this work intersessionally.
Following a lively exchange of views in which the WMO emphasised that the cost issue was related to the decision by the Committee to recognise additional mobile satellite services and was not under the remit of WMO or IHO and should be resolved by IMO, the Committee:
- Noted the information provided regarding the implementation of the Iridium SafetyCast service;
- Agreed the importance of protecting the integrity of the GMDSS, providing not only advance information necessary for safe navigation but also essential information for SAR operations and timely assistance to persons in distress at sea;
- Encouraged Member States responsible for the promulgation of MSI through the World-wide Navigational Warning Service (WWNWS) and the Worldwide Met-Ocean Information and Warning Service (WWMIWS), as well as those responsible for dissemination of SAR-related information, to progress the implementation of GMDSS mobile satellite services recognised by IMO, communicating information through the GISIS module on GMDSS Master Plan, as and when changes occur;
- Agreed to the establishment of a CG to consider the matter intersessionally;
- Invited Member States responsible for the dissemination of MSI and SAR-related information to submit detailed information on costs direct to the CG;
- Invited the UK and the USA, in cooperation with Inmarsat and Iridium, respectively, to advise the CG on the feasibility of eliminating or reducing the shore-to-ship charge for navigational and meteorological warnings (as is the case with distress alerts) and to share their views as to how cost issues could be addressed; and
- Requested the Secretariat to submit information directly to the CG on procedural issues related to the possible establishment of a fund, together with any other relevant information, as appropriate.
Establishment of a correspondence group. The Committee established the CG on Dissemination of MSI and SAR-related information, under the coordination of Australia with terms of reference to reflect plenary discussion and to submit a report to MSC 105. Experts representing the recognised mobile satellite service providers, NAVAREA and METAREA Coordinators, SAR authorities, Member States and international organisations concerned, in particular WMO and IHO, were encouraged to actively participate in the deliberations of the CG.
SHIP DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION.
Report of the Intersessional Working Group on Carriage of Industrial Personnel. The Committee noted the Group’s report and in particular, finalisation of draft SOLAS chapter XV and the draft IP code, including provisions for high-speed craft carrying no more than 60 industrial personnel, and the Model Industrial Personnel Safety Certificate form. Grandfathering provisions for ships permitted to operate under the interim recommendations were also noted and the outcome of the Group will be considered in detail by SDC 8.
SHIP SYSTEMS AND EQUIPMENT.
Outcome of SSE 7, HTW 7 and MSC 102. The Committee had for its consideration: draft interim guidelines on safe operation of onshore power supply (OPS) service in port for ships engaged on international voyages; draft amendments to the Guidelines for the maintenance and inspections of fixed carbon dioxide fire-extinguishing systems; and, a draft MSC circular on voluntary early implementation of the draft amendments to SOLAS chapter III and the LSA Code, which was referred to the Drafting Group in earlier discussion, for finalisation.
Draft interim guidelines on safe operation of OPS service in port. The draft interim guidelines, together with a commenting paper by IACS were referred to SSE 8 for further consideration with a view to finalisation and submission to MSC 105 for approval, pending the input from HTW 8.
Draft amendments to the Guidelines for the maintenance and inspections of fixed carbon dioxide fire-extinguishing systems (MSC.1/Circ.1318). Having agreed the modifications proposed in a document submitted by the UK and IACS, the Committee approved the Revised guidelines for the maintenance and inspections of fixed carbon dioxide fire-extinguishing systems (MSC.1/Circ.1432).
ANY OTHER BUSINESS.
General. The Committee recalled that MSC 102 had only examined documents related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on safety related matters and had postponed consideration of all remaining documents to this session.
COVID-19 related matters. The Committee noted information provided orally by the Secretariat on the current status of seafarers’ designation as “key workers” and latest developments relating to the pandemic, in particular that:
- As of 10 May 2021, 58 Member States and 2 Associate Members have notified the Organisation of their recognition of seafarers as “key workers” and urged those who have not done so yet, to do so, taking into account the relevance of this designation, including for seafarers’ prioritisation for vaccination;
- As requested by MSC 102, the new GISIS module on Crew Change and Repatriation of seafarers has been developed and is available for the notification and dissemination of information on ports that facilitate crew changes and on National Focal points on the matter (Circular Letter No.4398 of 8 April 2021); and,
- The Industry recommended framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic has been revised and disseminated by means of MSC.1/Circ.1636/Rev.1 as agreed at MSC 102. This revision took into account issues relevant to the global roll out of vaccines and the critical part they played in facilitating crew changes and the efficient movement of world trade.
Ongoing work on COVID-19 related matters. Document MSC 103/20 (Secretariat) informed the Committee of the ongoing work by IMO on COVID-19 matters, in particular on the dissemination of relevant information and statements made by the Secretary-General and joint statements with other UN organisations, including through IMO’s Seafarer Crisis Action Team (SCAT).
COVID-19 vaccination of seafarers. The Committee considered documents submitted by France and Viet Nam proposing to develop and adopt a resolution setting out the principles of a strategy for the vaccination of seafarers as key workers and to prioritise seafarers, both national and foreign, calling at ports under a State’s jurisdiction , for COVID-19 vaccination (as a result of designating seafarers as “key workers”).
The Committee noted information provided orally by the Secretariat on the latest developments to address the impact of the pandemic, particularly those related to crew change and vaccination. The global and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines is a challenge and the support from Member States to prioritise seafarers as key workers within their national vaccination programmes in accordance with the advice from the WHO SAGE Roadmap (WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts) is paramount.
Following further discussion around these issues, the Committee:
- Acknowledged the difficulties to maintain reliable and accurate information on vaccination strategies implemented by States and invited them to provide updated information on national vaccination programmes with a view to dissemination via circular letters;
- Recognised that the coordination of a global vaccination strategy, including the prioritisation of seafarers, is undertaken by WHO with the assistance of UNICEF, as part of the WHO SAGE Roadmap;
- Adopted an MSC resolution on Recommended action to prioritise COVID-19 vaccination of seafarers;
- Requested the Secretariat to prepare a draft Assembly resolution consolidating issues related to crew change, access to medical care, “key worker” designation and vaccination to further highlight the relevance of these problems, for consideration at MSC 104, with a view to adoption by Assembly 32.
Proposal for agreement by Member States to address the pandemic. The Committee considered document MSC 103/20/14 (Domenica) proposing that all IMO Member States should create and sign an agreement to commit to, and implement, five actions (designation of seafarers as “key workers”; related internationally recognised documentation of this status; allowances for travel; creation of quarantine facilities; and, provision of access to medical care, including access to vaccines) in order to address the crew change crisis, avoid adverse impact on seafarers physical and mental well-being, and ensure maritime safety.
In addressing the proposal, the Committee noted that the five actions highlighted in the document had already been the subject of substantial discussion within the UN, ILO and IMO, resulting in a number of resolutions covering all five points. In addition, the proposal raised a number of questions, inter alia, how an agreement signed by Member States would fit within IMO proceedings in terms of its nature (mandatory or non-mandatory); and that no draft text for such an agreement had been provided.
Recognising that the matters raised in the document had been addressed in resolutions of IMO, ILO, WHO, and the UN General Assembly, also that draft text had not been provided and the use of an agreement raised further questions, the Committee agreed not to take any action at this stage.
AGENDA ITEMS POSTPONED FOR CONSIDERATION AT MSC 104.
Owing to time pressure, consideration of the following items was deferred to MSC 104:
- Decisions of other IMO Bodies;
- Capacity-building for the implementation of new measures;
- Goal-Based New Ship Construction Standards;
- Unsafe Mixed Migration by Sea;
- Formal Safety Assessment
DATE OF NEXT MEETING.
MSC 104 will take place from 4 through 8 October 2021.
Captain Paddy McKnight