Presentation of the “Oasis of the Seas” ship model to IMO
2 November 2010
Speech by Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, Secretary-General, IMO
Minister, Excellencies, Chairman of the Council, Executive Vice-Presidents of CLIA and Royal Caribbean Cruises, distinguished guests and Council Members and observers, media representatives, ladies and gentlemen,
It is always a special occasion when we receive a new model to add to the wonderful collection of ships that the Organization has been presented with over the years. Today we are privileged to receive a representation of the Oasis of the Seas, a true maritime giant. Her capacity of 6,360 passengers plus some 2,100 crew is quite astonishing, and, with a gross tonnage of 225,000 tons, makes her the largest passenger ship afloat. It is difficult to find the words to aptly describe such a feat of naval architecture, shipbuilding and marine engineering; but “monumental” and “awesome” spring to mind.
Despite the economic downturn, which has clearly had a negative impact on revenues throughout the leisure market, the Cruise Lines Industry Association reports that “the 13.44 million people, who cruised in 2009, represented a 4.8 per cent increase on 2008, a strong sign of continuing consumer interest and demand.” It seems, therefore, that the cruise and passenger sector remains one of the shipping industry’s more vibrant, witnessing substantial growth on all fronts – numbers of passengers, numbers of ships, new destinations and ship sizes.
I have little doubt that passengers on the Oasis of the Seas are already or will be spellbound by all the amazing charms, pleasures and facilities this ship has to offer. One that particularly caught my eye was the “central park” area, with thousands of live plants and trees; what, one is tempted to ask, will they think of next?
Perhaps more prosaic, but equally important, certainly from IMO’s perspective, the Oasis of the Seas also incorporates many of the exacting standards embodied in the package of amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention since the Organization started considering safety of large passenger ships matters in December 2000 and adopted in December 2006. Given that she was delivered several months before those amendments entered into force in July of this year, I think great credit is due to her owners, Royal Caribbean International, for going “beyond compliance” and bringing philosophies and concepts, such as the “safe haven”, the “dedicated safety centre” and the “ship as its own best lifeboat” into the design of this magnificent vessel.
I have found it extremely courteous and prudent at the same time that Royal Caribbean took us, in the Secretariat, in their confidence long before the construction of the ship began, while still at the drawing board stage and still under the codename “Genesis” to brief us about the concept and discuss with us, in detail, its various features and particulars. They apparently knew that they were embarking on a pioneering venture of the utmost magnitude and grandeur; that they were about to take enormous risks and produce a ship the kind of which the world had never seen before – a ship, which would embody state-of-the-art components and would incorporate thousands of systems and sub-systems necessary to ensure synchronized performance of the maximum detail and accuracy that would enable her to sail and manoeuvre like a well-oiled machine, one that would guarantee safety, security and environmental protection of the highest level under all perceivable circumstances.
You will get a measure of what I mean if I say that each of her lifeboats is designed to carry some 370 persons – a number, which, until recently, constituted the full complement of a sizeable cruise ship. May she never, in her life, have to make use of them and the other novel life-saving appliances she has been equipped with. I wish, therefore, to take this opportunity to wholeheartedly thank Mr. Harri Kulovaara, the RCCL Executive Vice President, Maritime, who was in charge of the project and led a team of representatives of the Flag State (The Bahamas), the classification society (Det Norske Veritas), the US Coast Guard, STX Finland (the shipyard where the ship was built) and her Master in the successive meetings we had here at IMO and in Southampton, during which they kept us abreast of developments while giving flesh and bones to the “Genesis” until it became the “Oasis of the Seas”. We were impressed by their meticulous attention to detail on all the ship’s critical areas and, above all, on those with an impact on safety, security and environmental protection. Thank you all for your trust and for the opportunity you give us today to celebrate shipping on the arrival of this magnificent ship to its IMO Home!
In the design, construction and equipment of the “Oasis”, environmental considerations have not been ignored either. I am told that a 20 per cent energy saving, compared to the older Freedom class ships, has been achieved – certainly a good example to follow as IMO moves forward with its own measures to increase the energy efficiency of ships and thus reduce their CO2 emissions, having already reduced the limits relating to air pollutants.
As I am sure everyone here appreciates, ensuring that the international regulatory framework retains its relevance in the light of advances that have, since the early 1990s, altered the fundamental nature of passenger shipping is a huge and complex undertaking. It would be infinitely more difficult without the active involvement of a responsible industry body, a role which CLIA has performed, and continues to perform, with great success and distinction.
Through its consultative status at IMO, CLIA participates fully in the work of the Organization, and has added its weight to our collective efforts to promote and foster a safe, secure, environmentally-friendly and healthy passenger ship sector.
Through CLIA, the cruise and passenger industry continues to demonstrate its commitment to the goals and ideals of IMO and we are indebted to it for the sound expertise and balanced industry viewpoint that it has been able to provide on so many of the issues that have been brought before IMO over many years.
Ladies and gentlemen, the delivery of this ship – in real life, a year ago, and today, in the form of the wonderful model we will unveil in a short while – gives us, once again, an ideal opportunity to celebrate excellence in shipping. And let us not forget that the technical masterpiece this model represents requires equally high standards of competence and skill in the crews that provide the essential human element.
As you all know, this year has been designated the “Year of the Seafarer”, a theme that has been extremely successful in generating wide interest, as is evident from the number of events and other initiatives conducted around the globe by Governments, international organizations and a great variety of industry stakeholders. It has been a year in which we have sought to celebrate and commend those who earn their living at sea – regardless of whether they do so in palatial surroundings such as this, or aboard the rather more down-to-earth merchant workhorses that make up the bulk of the global fleet.
Let us hope that the momentum galvanized during the “Year of the Seafarer” will continue and, in particular, inspire a younger generation by alerting ambitious and capable youngsters to the unique attractions of a seafaring career. Indeed, it would be nice to think that, henceforth, on the 25th of June, which has been designated the “Day of the Seafarer”, passengers on the Oasis of the Seas; on its sister ship, the Allure of the Seas, delivered just last week; and on all cruise ships around the globe, will be invited to raise a glass and toast the seafarers who are ensuring their wellbeing and safety and helping to make their cruise so enjoyable.
And so, Royal Caribbean, STX Finland, CLIA: Thank you for this beautiful model, which we will give pride of place in our Headquarters. May the seas be always calm to her and the winds following. May she bring fortune and prosperity to her owners and all who sail in her!