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Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), 92nd session, 12 to 21 June 2013 (closing remarks)

June 21, 2013

CLOSING REMARKS BY THE SECRETARY-GENERAL AT THE END OF MSC 92
Friday 21 June 2013
 
Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates and observers,
 
As we are approaching the end of another, very busy and very fruitful MSC session, the Costa Concordia safety review has been the most important safety issue at this session. The Committee has taken firm actions to set a clear direction towards a safety review over critical areas such as stability and survivability.  Despite the short time available after the casualty investigation report was released, all delegations were prepared for discussion at this session and all areas of concern were evaluated based on the preliminary recommendations from Italy.
 
I appreciate:
 
- your consideration of the official casualty investigation report and the associated preliminary recommendations provided by the Italian Government regarding the casualty investigation into the Costa Concordia accident;
 
- your immediate action in instructing the newly formed SSE and SDC Sub-Committees  to consider urgent technical issues;
 
- updating the MSC circular on Recommended interim measures for passenger ship companies to enhance the safety of passenger ships based on the latest information provided by CLIA and ICS; and
 
- your work to update the Revised long-term action plan on passenger ship safety and to invite submissions to MSC 93 containing  detailed comments and proposals on the Costa Concordia official casualty investigation report.
 
In the work to come at the next session and in the respective sub- committees, we should ensure that all action would be taken fully to meet the procedures required by the Committee's guidelines and that justification for actions would be demonstrated, so that compelling need is always be demonstrated for the necessary improvements in our regulations. I am sure we can do this and we can strengthen our regulations to avoid future tragic accidents. Lessons must be learned.
 
I hope that further critical technical information such as information on penetration depth supporting the recommendation for double skin will be provided by Italy for further consideration.  Intensive discussion at this Committee was only possible due to the availability of the casualty investigation report by Italy.  I appreciate once again that Italy managed to present the report in time for this Committee.  My thanks go to Admiral Cristiano Aliperta and Andy Winbow who tirelessly worked together to act as facilitators for the Italian authority to ensure that the report and other necessary information, including recommendations, were submitted for consideration by this session of the Committee.  They put in serious efforts indeed and I appreciate it very much.
 
***
 
I would also like to commend the Committee for adopting the Code for Recognized Organizations and the amendments to:
 
.1 the 1974 SOLAS Convention, as amended, including the 1994 and 2000 High-Speed Craft Codes, the ISM Code and the IMSBC Code;
 
.2 the 1972 Convention on Safe Containers; and
 
.3 the 1988 Load Lines Protocol;
 
and also for adopting a series of amendments to non-mandatory instruments.
 
I further welcome the Committee’s decision to establish a correspondence group to continue the development of guidance on drafting of amendments to the SOLAS Convention and related mandatory codes, with the view to finalizing this important item at MSC 93.
 
In addition, I welcome the Committee’s approval of:
 
.1  the Revised International Gas Carrier Code;
 
.2  the amendments to SOLAS mandating the fitting of inert gas systems onboard new tankers of 8,000 dwt and above transporting low-flashpoint cargoes;
 
.3 mandatory requirements for periodic servicing and maintenance of lifeboats; and
 
.4 the procedure for the calculation by the Depositary of the number of fishing vessels of each Contracting State in respect of the Cape Town Agreement of 2012, which, once again, I would urge Governments to ratify as soon as possible to secure its early entry-into-force.
 
I also note the successful completion by the working group on goal-based standards of the Guidelines for the approval of alternatives and equivalents as provided in various IMO instruments, which enabled the Committee to approve them at this session. 
 
***
 
Distinguished delegates,
 
You have expressed, once again, your clear concern about the level of piracy and armed robbery against ships off the coast of west and central Africa and I am grateful for your endorsement of the actions of the Secretariat over the last few years to address this.   I am pleased to note that during the current session of your Committee, a number of delegations from the Gulf of Guinea area were able to report on their progress as a result of these activities.  We are very grateful for their strong support for further action and for the agreement to promulgate region-specific counter-piracy guidance.
 
In my opening remarks, I announced the establishment of a new, multi-donor trust fund to support an expanded programme of capacity-building activities in West and Central Africa.  This will better enable us to continue to co-operate with our colleagues in the United Nations system and other international and regional development partners for the benefit of safe, secure and sustainable development of the African maritime sector.  I have already sent my personal letter to Mr. Ban Ki-moon, highlighting the importance of our work on maritime security and requesting his support and co-operation under the United Nations system.  I urge Member States, as well as the industry, to contribute to the new fund.
 
***
 
I am also pleased that the Committee expressed appreciation of the outcome of the Ship Safety Symposium.  Your decision to consider the recommendations emanating from the Symposium at a future session was encouraging.  I am looking forward to further developments in ensuring that IMO’s regulatory framework will continue to meet the safety and environmental protection and expectations of civil society as we move into the future.
 
***
 
Mr. Chairman,
 
It is customary at this stage of the meeting to pay tribute to delegates and observers who have left or are about to leave, for a variety of reasons.  In saying our farewells, we thank them sincerely for their valuable contribution to the work of the Committee and IMO and wish them well.  I wish to mention, in particular:
 
- Mr. Martin Pablo Ruiz of Argentina;
- Mr. Jose Accioly of Brazil;
- Mr. Adonis Pavlidis of Cyprus;
- Mr. Shin Ima of Japan;
- Mr. Manuel Carrasco E. of Peru; and
- Mr. Michael Rambaut, long-time Secretary-General of CIRM.
 
A number of long-serving IMO staff are also retiring or have retired or are returning home, and I would mention, in particular:
 
- Dr. Rosalie Balkin, Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the Legal Affairs and External Relations Division, who will retire at the end of the year;
- Mr. Jianxin Zhu, Director of the Technical Co-operation Division, who will retire in August;
- Mr. Gurpreet Singhota, who has served as Secretary of the Sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation over 26 years and will retire in October;
- Mr. Dachang Du, Senior Deputy Director of the Marine Environment Division, retiring at the end of the year;
- Mr. Vladimir Semenov, who served as the Secretary of the Sub-Committee on Fire Protection;
- Ms Rouba Ruthnum, who is the longest serving staff member at IMO, having worked for the Organization for 39 years, under four different Secretaries-General; and
- Mrs Marie-Helene Williams, of the Conference Division, who retired last month, after 35 years of service in the Secretariat.
 
Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for their loyalty and tremendous contributions provided, over the years, to the work of IMO and wish them all the best for their retirement and future endeavours.
 
***
 
On a sad note, I wish to convey sincere condolences to the family and friends of our former IMO Secretariat colleague, Captain Tore Fossum of Norway, who died recently.  He was Senior Deputy Director of the Maritime Safety Division.  We shall remember him always for his co-operation and friendship, as well as for his valuable contribution to IMO’s work and objectives.
 
Distinguished delegates,
 
In concluding, I thank and congratulate all of you on your achievements and extend sincere thanks to the officers of the Committee’s subsidiary bodies; to the chairmen of the working and drafting groups established this week, namely, the Committee’s Vice-Chairman, Captain Segar of Singapore, Mr. Groves of Australia, Mr. Sirkar of the United States, Ms Garduño-Arana of Mexico, and Mr. Tsuchiya of the United Kingdom; and, of course, to the coordinators of the various correspondence groups that have reported to this session.
 
***
 
Mr. Chairman,
 
This has, again, been a very demanding session and I wish to pay a special tribute to you, for the diligent and confident way in which you have discharged your responsibilities, always in your quiet, patient and diplomatic manner, and also with a welcome sense of humour, yet with the steady determination of a strong leader, which has resulted in the very efficient use of your Committee’s time and achieving consensus in all of the Committee’s decisions, no matter how complex, difficult or sensitive the issues involved.
 
The efficient work of the Committee under the excellent chairmanship of Cristian Breinholt is something what I would like to highlight as a clear mark of this Committee.  Efficient decision-making requires the effort of everybody; preparation by all participants for the discussion; clear statements in the debate; and coming to the point of discussion without entailing excessive explanation of background and description of an issue which is clear to everybody.
 
We have seen and witnessed the efficiency in decision making.  Once you have experienced this efficiency, I am sure you will find it difficult to return back to the previous style and formality of discussion at the Committee.  It was only possible due to the efficient chairmanship of Mr. Breinholt and I praise him really highly for his contribution.  The Committee is working and functioning well in this efficient mode of operation.
 
On the sub-committee restructuring, I appreciate everybody's effort and understanding of the need for restructuring, aiming at further efficiency of our work and contributions towards the agreement on the new structure.  I am sure that the Council will appreciate your approval of our subsidiary bodies.  It is now the Council's responsibility to ensure the necessary budget to enable your Committee to work with the sub-committees under the new structure.  This is an important system change in the process of the review and reform which I initiated.
Review and reform are the words I selected.  Modernization is another word and that is, in my view, necessary for the Organization when exploring our future in these difficult and turbulent times.  Modernization will help us to continue to deliver.
 
The decision-making process at the Committee that you have experienced is a significant contribution in the context of modernization. I praise Christian Breinholt, once again.  I am sure Andy has also made a contribution in assisting the Chairman.  Not only Andy but also all the staff of the Maritime Safety Division should be congratulated in supporting the Committee, working groups, drafting group and the report preparation process.
 
The Conference Division and the IT section and all the staff of the Secretariat should be appreciated for their efforts and passion to serve the Committee and ensure its success. I appreciate everybody’s effort.
 
As this year is ‘Assembly year’,  I look forward to the continued co-operation of all of you to make the 28th Assembly a success, but for now I wish you all a well-deserved rest and nice weekend, and those of you who have to travel back home a safe journey. 
 
Thank you.
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