IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), which met at the Organization's London Headquarters for its 91st session from 26 to 30 November 2012, agreed that rules to require passenger safety drills to take place prior to, or immediately upon, departure should be made mandatory, in the wake of the Costa Concordia incident.
The MSC also adopted a number of amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), including a new mandatory requirement for new ships to be constructed to reduce on-board noise and to protect personnel from noise; and considered a range of other issues, including piracy and armed robbery against ships and other items submitted by the IMO sub-committees.
Draft amendment on muster drills approved
The MSC approved a draft amendment to SOLAS regulation III/19 to require musters of newly embarked passengers prior to or immediately upon departure, instead of “within 24 hours”, as stated in the current regulations. The draft amendment will now be circulated with a view to adoption, at the next session, MSC 92, in June 2013.
The Committee also agreed a revised circular on recommended operational measures to be implemented on a voluntary basis, and updated its long-term action plan on passenger ship safety. (See Briefing 54/2012
New mandatory requirements to reduce noise on board ships
The MSC adopted a new SOLAS regulation II-1/3-12 to require new ships to be constructed to reduce on-board noise and to protect personnel from noise, in accordance with the revised Code on noise levels on board ships, also adopted, which sets out mandatory maximum noise level limits for machinery spaces, control rooms, workshops, accommodation and other spaces on board ships. The Code supersedes the previous non-mandatory Code, adopted in 1981 by resolution A.468(XII).
The Code on noise levels on board ships will come into effect when the new regulation enters into force, on 1 July 2014.
Other SOLAS amendments adopted
The MSC also adopted the following SOLAS amendments, which are expected to enter into force on 1 July 2014:
• amendments to SOLAS regulation III/17-1 to require ships to have plans and procedures to recover persons from the water, as well as related Guidelines for development of plans and procedures for recovery of persons from the water. Also, a related MSC resolution on Implementation of SOLAS regulation III/17-1 to ships to which SOLAS chapter III does not apply;
• amendments to SOLAS regulation II-2/10 on fire fighting to require a minimum of duplicate two-way portable radiotelephone apparatus for each fire party for fire fighters’ communication to be carried; amendments to regulation II-2/15 on instructions, on-board training and drills, to require an on-board means of recharging breathing apparatus cylinders used during drills, or a suitable number of spare cylinders; and amendments to regulation II-2/20 on protection of vehicle, special category and ro-ro spaces related to fixed fire-extinguishing systems; and
• amendments to the appendix to the annex to the SOLAS Convention replacing all forms of certificates and records of equipment, including its 1988 Protocol, and amendments to the forms of the Cargo Ship Safety Construction Certificate and Cargo Ship Safety Equipment Certificate of its 1978 Protocol.
SOLAS amendments to mandate enclosed-space entry and rescue drills approved
The MSC approved, for adoption at MSC 92, draft amendments to SOLAS regulation III/19, on emergency training and drills, to mandate enclosed-space entry and rescue drills, which would require crew members with enclosed-space entry or rescue responsibilities to participate in an enclosed-space entry and rescue drill at least once every two months.
The draft amendments are aimed at ensuring seafarers are familiar with the precautions they need to take prior to entering enclosed spaces and also with the most appropriate action they should take in the event of an accident.
Piracy and armed robbery against ships statistics reviewed
The MSC reviewed the latest statistics on piracy and armed robbery against ships and noted the encouraging downward trend in piracy attacks in the western Indian Ocean. However, there were still many innocent seafarers held hostage in Somalia, some for more than two years. The increase in the number of incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Gulf of Guinea and the increasing level of violence of those attacks was also a major concern.
The MSC welcomed the news from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) that it had developed ISO PAS 28007 for Private Maritime Security Companies.
Goal-based standards implementation work continued
The MSC continued its work on goal-based standards, further developing draft guidelines for the approval of equivalents and alternatives as provided for in various IMO instruments. Work on the guidelines will continue in a correspondence group.
The development of interim guidelines for the safety level approach was also discussed, and a working group agreed a draft set of elements to be considered. The "Safety level” is defined as a measure of exposure to risk and the "Safety-level approach” is defined as the structured application of risk-based methodologies for the IMO rule-making process. Member States and interested organizations were invited to submit comments on the safety level approach elements to the next session.
IMO audit scheme Code and amendments approved
The MSC approved the draft IMO Instruments Implementation Code (III Code), which sets the standard for the IMO audit scheme, and approved draft amendments to the following treaties to make the III Code and auditing mandatory: International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, (SOLAS), 1974, as amended, and the Protocol of 1988 relating to the International Convention on Load Lines, 1966 (1988 Load Lines Protocol), as amended, for adoption by MSC 93. The MSC also adopted amendments to the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972, as amended (COLREG 1972), the International Convention on Load Lines, 1966 (LL 1966) and the International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships, 1969 (TONNAGE 1969), for subsequent adoption by the Assembly at its twenty-eighth session (following the procedures for adoption of amendments for the COLREG 1972, LL 1966 and Tonnage 1969 conventions).
Similar draft amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW), 1978, as amended and the Seafarers' Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Code were referred to the Sub-Committee on Standards of Training and Watchkeeping for further review with a view to their approval at the next session of the MSC..
The aim is to adopt the treaty amendments in 2014, once the III Code has been formally adopted by the IMO Assembly, in 2013.
Code for Recognized Organizations (ROs) approved
The MSC approved the draft Code for Recognized Organizations (ROs) and related draft amendments to SOLAS, 1974, and the Load Lines 1988 Protocol, to make it mandatory, for adoption, at a future session. The Code will provide a consolidated text containing criteria against which ROs (which may be authorized by flag States to carry out surveys and issue certificates on their behalf) are assessed and authorized/recognized, and give guidance for subsequent monitoring of ROs by Administrations.
Restructuring of sub-committees to be discussed at next session
The MSC discussed proposals to restructure the nine sub-committees reporting to MSC and to the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), which had been endorsed, in principle, by the IMO Council in June (See Briefing 49/2012). The majority of delegations which spoke expressed support, in principle, to the proposed reduction in the number of sub-committees and the related merging of some sub-committees. It was agreed to establish a working group at MSC 92 in June 2013, to discuss the proposals in detail.
In connection with other issues arising from the reports of IMO sub-committees and other bodies, the MSC:
• adopted amendments to update the Performance standard for protective coatings for dedicated seawater ballast tanks in all types of ships and double-side skin spaces of bulk carriers (resolution MSC.215(82)) and the Performance standard for protective coatings for cargo oil tanks of crude oil tankers (resolution MSC.288(87)), which are mandatory under SOLAS 74, as amended;
• adopted amendments to annex B to the 1988 Load Lines Protocol, as amended, related to Regulation 27(11) Initial condition of loading and Regulation 27(13) Condition of equilibrium;
• adopted amendments to update the International Code for Fire Safety Systems (FSS Code), as amended, including revised specifications for breathing apparatus and revised chapter 14 on fixed deck foam systems;
• adopted amendments to chapters 17, 18 and 19 of the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code), which have been concurrently adopted by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC);
• approved a COMSAR circular on guidance on smartphone and other computer devices, which points out the potential safety concerns in relation to the use of applications for smartphones and other computer devices that relate to Search and Rescue (SAR);
• adopted a number of new and amended ships' routeing measures;
• approved the Secretary-General’s report on three countries whose independent evaluations have been completed since the previous MSC meeting and confirmed those Parties continued to give full and complete effect to the provisions of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978, as amended;
• approved revised Guidelines on the Medical Examination of Seafarers (STCW.7/Circ.19);
• approved a STCW.7 circular providing Guidance on Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) Training;
• approved guidance to STCW parties, including revised circulars on Procedures regarding the consideration of information communicated in accordance with article IV and regulation I/7 of the STCW Convention (MSC.1/Circ.796/Rev.2; Guidance on the preparation, reporting and review of independent evaluations and steps taken to implement mandatory amendments required by regulations I/7 and I/8 of the STCW Convention (MSC.1/Circ.997/Rev.1); and Guidance on arrangements between parties to allow for recognition of certificates under regulation I/10 of the STCW Convention (MSC.1/Circ.950/Rev.1);
• approved amendments to the International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention (International Safety Management (ISM) Code), intended to improve its efficiency and user friendliness;
• approved a draft Assembly resolution on Revised Guidelines on implementation of the ISM Code by Administrations;
• approved a draft Assembly resolution on Revised Guidelines for the structure of an integrated system of Contingency planning for shipboard emergencies;
• approved draft amendments to the International Convention for Safe Containers (CSC), 1972, for subsequent adoption. The draft amendments incorporate amendments to the CSC Convention adopted in 1993 by resolution A.737(18), which have not yet entered into force;
• approved the MSC-MEPC circular on the Revised Guidelines for Formal Safety Assessment (FSA) for use in the IMO rule-making process (Revised FSA Guidelines), and the MSC-MEPC circular on Guidelines for the application of Human Element Analysing Process (HEAP) to the IMO rule making process (HEAP Guidelines);
• approved the revised MSC circular on Guide for cold water survival; and
• approved a revised MSC.1/Circ.1350 on Unified Interpretations of SOLAS regulation V/22.1.6 relating to navigation bridge visibility, to include a new paragraph covering the use of a remote camera system as means for achieving the view of the ship's side from the bridge wing.