IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) meets at the Organization's London Headquarters for its 91st session from 26 to 30 November 2012.
The busy agenda includes discussions on passenger ship safety; the adoption of amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS); and consideration of matters related to piracy and armed robbery against ships and other items submitted by the IMO Sub-Committees.
Passenger ship safety
The MSC is expected to establish a working group on passenger ship safety to consider relevant issues, including the action plan drawn up at the last session following the Costa Concordia incident in January.
The MSC agreed at its last session on a number of operational measures to be implemented immediately, on a voluntary basis, prior to the adoption of any measures following the analysis of the official marine investigation report into the loss of the Costa Concordia.
The MSC is also expected to receive an update from the Government of Italy on the status of the Costa Concordia casualty investigation. IMO is represented, as an observer, on the body overseeing the casualty investigation.
Adoption of SOLAS amendments
The MSC will be invited to consider, for adoption:
• draft 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 draft MSC resolution on Implementation of SOLAS regulation III/17-1 to ships other than those engaged in international voyages;
• a draft 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 draft revised Code on noise levels on board ships, also set to be adopted, which sets out mandatory noise level limits for machinery spaces, control rooms, workshops, accommodation and other spaces on board ships, and will supersede the previous Code, adopted in 1981 by resolution A.468(XII); and
• draft amendments to SOLAS regulation II-2/10 on fire fighting to require a minimum of duplicate two-way portable radiotelephone apparatus for fire fighters’ communication to be carried; and draft 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.
SOLAS amendments to mandate enclosed-space entry and rescue drills to be approved
The MSC is expected to approve, for subsequent adoption, 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 enhancing the protection of seafarers’ lives by requiring drills be held to ensure that 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
Following a high-level policy debate on arms on board ships at the last session, the MSC will review the latest statistics on piracy and armed robbery against ships and discuss current initiatives to suppress piracy and armed robbery.
The number of attacks launched by Somali-based pirates is reported to have decreased. However, the number of reported attacks off west Africa has risen.
Following the work done by MSC 90 to develop guidelines for private maritime security companies using armed security personnel, MSC 91 will receive an update on the progress made by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to develop international minimum standards for the deployment of such personnel, for use by flag States if or when appropriate.
Goal-based standards implementation work to continue
The MSC will continue its work on goal-based standards. It is expected to consider the report of a Correspondence Group, established to develop draft guidelines for the approval of equivalents and alternatives as provided for in various IMO instruments. A working group will be established to further consider the draft guidelines and the continued development of the safety level approach.
IMO audit scheme Code and amendments set to be approved
The MSC is expected to approve the draft IMO Instruments Implementation Code (III Code), which sets the standard for the IMO audit scheme, and approve 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; the International Convention on Load Lines, 1966 (LL 1966) and its 1988 Protocol; the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW), 1978, as amended and the Seafarers' Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Code; the International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships, 1969 (TONNAGE 1969); and the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972, as amended (COLREG 1972).
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) set to be approved
The MSC is expected to approve 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.
LRIT status to be updated
The MSC will be updated on developments in relation to the establishment and testing of long-range identification and tracking (LRIT) Data Centres (DCs) and the operation of the LRIT system.
In connection with other issues arising from the reports of IMO Sub-Committees and other bodies, the MSC will be invited to:
adopt 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));
adopt amendments to annex B to the Protocol of 1988 relating to the International Convention on Load Lines, 1966 (1988 Load Lines Protocol), as amended related to Regulation 27(11) Initial condition of loading and Regulation 27(13) Condition of equilibrium;
adopt 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;
adopt 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);
approve a draft 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 "Smart Phones" and other computer devices that relate to Search and Rescue (SAR);
adopt a number of new and amended ships' routeing measures;
consider the Secretary-General’s report on a number of countries whose independent evaluations have been completed since the previous MSC meeting and to confirm if those Parties continue 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;
approve revised Guidelines on the Medical Examination of Seafarers (STCW.7/Circ.19);
approve a draft STCW.7 circular providing guidance on Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) Training;
approve guidance to STCW parties, including draft 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);
approve draft 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;
approve a draft Assembly resolution on Revised Guidelines on implementation of the ISM Code by Administrations;
approve a draft Assembly resolution on Revised Guidelines for the structure of an integrated system of Contingency planning for shipboard emergencies;
approve 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;
approve the draft 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 draft MSC-MEPC circular on Guidelines for the application of Human Element Analysing Process (HEAP) to the IMO rule making process (HEAP Guidelines); and
approve a draft 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.