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RINA annual dinner

April 17, 2012

RINA annual dinner
17 April 2012
Speech by Koji Sekimizu
Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization

President, Chief Executive, members of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects,
 
It is a great pleasure for me to be with you at your Annual Dinner for 2012 and I am grateful for the opportunity to say a few words to you.
 
I am always fascinated to meet the various different groups from within such a diverse and multi-disciplined industry as shipping, but today I have immense pleasure in meeting you, because your profession is my profession too.
 
As a young boy growing up in Yokohama, Japan, I saw cargo ships and passenger ships that had travelled from foreign countries, and foreigners.  Yokohama was quite an international city which gave me an idea that I would go abroad sometime in the future.
 
The Yokohama Shipyard and Machinery Works was a dominant feature in the city and we children grew up in busy streets and port areas full of strong workers from the shipbuilding yards.
 
For me, it was an inspiration formed in the atmosphere of Port Yokohama that encouraged me to enrol in the Engineering Faculty of Osaka University, where I studied marine engineering and naval architecture and, in particular, ship structure and vibration and ship manoeuvrability, under Professor Kensaku Nomoto, until my graduation with a Master’s degree in 1977. Thereafter, I worked for the Ministry of Transport in Japan as a Ship Inspector, conducting initial, intermediate, periodical and annual surveys on a wide variety of ships.
 
Anyway, as this is not a job interview I will refrain from giving you my full CV: but I just wanted to convey to you that your preoccupation with this fascinating and rewarding subject is one I both understand and share.
 
Here in the UK, you have a long and proud tradition of naval architecture. The profession was already well-established as long ago as 1791, when the Society for the Improvement of Naval Architecture was founded, the predecessor of your own institution which was established more than 150 years ago.
 
Shipbuilding is a tradition in which the pre-eminent position was held for many decades by this country.   I am certain that many of the ships that inspired me as a boy would have been built on the Clyde or the Tyne and designed by naval architects who studied in Glasgow or Newcastle and who were, no doubt, members of this august institution.
 
Although the decline of British shipbuilding in the latter half of the 20th century has been well documented, the rise of the new shipbuilding powers such as Japan, the Republic of Korea and now China has not diminished the high regard and esteem in which the British naval architecture establishment is held, and the same will go for RINA.
 
Indeed, it is no coincidence that, since 2002, RINA has held Consultative Status at IMO on behalf of the entire international naval architecture profession. Although relatively short, this arrangement has been active and fruitful and I should like to offer my appreciation for the many positive contributions that RINA has made to the work of IMO during the past ten years.
 
There are far too many to list but among those that come to my mind are your input to the work on stability, both damaged and intact; on energy efficiency; and, of course, on large passenger ship safety.
 
IMO’s successful development and adoption of a wide range of measures designed to enhance the safety of large passenger ships has a particular relevance in 2012. For this is not only a year of anniversaries of several notable passenger ship accidents which give us the opportunity to recall how much has been achieved in improving safety for these ships; but also a year in which recent accidents, such as the Rabaul Queen off Papua New Guinea, the Shariatpur-1 in Bangladesh and, of course, the Costa Concordia, on the coast of Italy, have reminded us that those of us who work to improve safety will never cease our efforts.
 
This year marks 25 years since the sinking of the Dona Paz, in the Philippines, and the capsize of the Herald of Free Enterprise, in the English Channel. The Dona Paz will be remembered in particular for the huge loss of life – some estimates suggest that more than 4,000 people may have perished in the disaster – while the Herald of Free Enterprise became the catalyst for the development of the International Maritime Safety Management Code, a measure that established the very important formal acknowledgement that a considerable part of the responsibility for ship safety rests with the shore management and not just with the ship’s crew, operating at the “sharp-end”.
 
The grounding and subsequent capsize of the Costa Concordia has raised serious concern in the general public on the safety of large passenger ships.  It certainly prompted me, as the IMO Secretary-General, to reconsider and reschedule all planned activities of this year dealing with passenger ship safety.
 
Immediately I made a statement that we should not deal with this accident lightly but we should not pre-empt a response or speculate on causes and, with this in mind, I have urged the Italian Administration to carry out a rapid and full casualty investigation and report its findings to the Organization as soon as possible.  In this respect, I have pledged that the Organization will seriously consider the lessons to be learnt – and will take necessary action in the light of the findings, utilizing all possible mechanisms of IMO to take swift action under the “Fast Track” approach, in order to implement measures to re-assure the confidence in the safety of cruise ships.
 
I am grateful to the Italian authorities for agreeing to my request for the Organization to be represented, as an observer, on the body overseeing the casualty investigation, which will enable us to monitor progress closely and remain abreast of developments and ensure that any findings would be submitted to the Organization without delay.
 
In time, the Costa Concordia accident may also yield modifications and improvements to the regulatory regime surrounding this type of vessel and, for this reason, I have included an additional item on “Passenger Ship Safety” on the agenda of IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee, which meets for its 90th session next month. This will provide an opportunity for IMO to consider any issues arising from that accident.
 
The most famous of this year’s anniversaries is, of course, the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the White Star liner Titanic.
 
The Titanic disaster prompted the major shipping nations of the world, at that time, to take decisive action to address maritime safety. It led to the adoption of the first international convention on safety of life at sea, SOLAS, in 1914.
 
IMO can trace its own roots back to the Titanic disaster.  In its aftermath, the requirement for an international standard-setting body to oversee maritime safety became apparent; and safety at sea remains the core objective of IMO.
 
Today, in 2012, although much updated and revised, SOLAS is still the most important international treaty instrument addressing maritime safety. It now forms part of a comprehensive regulatory framework covering almost all aspects of ship design, construction, operation and manning. The spirit and determination of all those who have laboured to create this framework should be acknowledged and given credit.
 
But each new generation of vessels brings fresh challenges and, even today, accidents still occur, reinforcing the need for continual improvement. Our efforts to promote maritime safety and, in particular, to avoid such disasters befalling passenger ships, will never end.
 
Indeed, it is my belief that we stand on the brink of a new and positive era for ship safety, with techniques such as probabilistic risk assessment and measures such as goal-based construction standards pointing the way towards more robust and safer ship designs.
 
In the centenary year of Titanic, I had planned to organize a Ship Safety Symposium to provide an opportunity to discuss the future of ship safety.  My original intention was to provide an opportunity to Governments, all sectors of shipping and shipbuilding industries, classification societies, designers, engineers and naval architects to review past achievements in improving safety and to consider the future of our ship safety regimes, exploring new safety measures and the system 10 years ahead, 20 years ahead and even 40 years ahead. 
 
In this context, I would like to explore more scientific and more goal-based approaches employing accumulated casualty data which would allow systematic and objective risk assessment of ships of new generations.  But, I have decided to postpone this Symposium until we have completed the serious regulatory actions in the wake of Costa Concordia casualty investigation.  We cannot talk about the future until we have settled the case at hand.  I sincerely hope that we and the maritime community could settle the case of the Costa Concordia as soon as possible and hold the Ship Safety Symposium to talk about the future of ship safety next year.
 
Your profession has always faced with challenges, based around how to design safe yet cost-effective ships that can provide a satisfactory return on investment for their owners.
 
The response to those challenges is always in a constant state of flux. Many of you, I am sure, will remember when, not too long ago, the search was for speed. A containership with a 20 knot service speed would be trumped by another with a 21 knot service speed, and so on. The price of fuel eventually brought this race to an abrupt halt.  Now, operators are slow-steaming their ships.
 
Today, commercial, regulatory and environmental imperatives dictate that fuel efficiency is the new holy-grail for naval architects and marine engineers alike. The challenge is to mitigate the impact of rising fuel prices, meet impending international regulations and make sure that shipping improves even further, on its already excellent record as the most environment-friendly mode of transportation. The means to achieve this are always technology and design, and they are at your disposal.
 
Let me take this opportunity to elaborate somewhat on the regulatory imperative. Nobody here today – indeed, nobody in the shipping community – can be unaware of the breakthrough adoption, in July 2011 at IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee, of mandatory technical and operational measures to reduce greenhouse emissions from international shipping. The new regulations will make mandatory the Energy Efficiency Design Index, or EEDI.  The regulations will apply to new ships and are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2013.
 
From a political perspective, this has not been the easiest for IMO Member Governments to adopt – far from it. And this is neither the time nor the place to go back over those difficult political complexities.
 
I would encourage the shipping industry to look beyond the political aspects of EEDI and to see this as a wonderful opportunity to explore in the future.  Moments ago I spoke of a new era for ship safety. I firmly believe that we are on the brink of a new era in energy efficiency and environmental performance – and that naval architects can help lead the way forward.
 
The regulations that make EEDI mandatory are non-prescriptive: which means that, as long as the required energy-efficiency level is attained, ship designers and builders are free to use the most cost-efficient solution or solutions for each particular ship. I see this as a green light for innovation, imagination and blue-sky thinking; and there is already ample evidence to suggest that naval architects also share this view.
 
Ship designers and engineers are already developing a set of design innovations that they can draw on to meet these new challenges. Propeller technology continues to move forward, for example; hull features such as ducts, bulbs and fins are all being actively explored with excellent results; and aerodynamic superstructures are also increasingly utilized.
 
On the machinery side, engineers are far more willing than ever before to consider alternatives to the conventional solutions; thus we see increasing use of diesel electric propulsion, electronic engine controls, waste-heat recovery and alternative fuels such as LNG. Even highly unconventional technologies, such as kites and rotors, are now attracting serious interest.
 
When you add all of this to the ship-design challenges presented by, for example, the opening up of Arctic waters to more general cargo traffic; the increasing demand for special purpose ships for wind farm construction; the march of oil and gas exploration into ever more inhospitable areas; as well as the need for innovative design solutions to meet other regulatory imperatives such as the requirement for ballast water, and to design ships for safe recycling, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that these are exciting times to be a naval architect.
 
Many in the shipping industry today are facing hard times to operate profitably, or even to break even. The shipping industry may need to face an adjustment period to replace old, outmoded and inefficient ships with new generation ships.   As forward-thinking professionals, naval architects have the ability to fling open the doors and help usher in a new breed of energy-efficient, environment-friendly, safe and profitable ships – and if you do so, everybody will benefit, not just in shipping, but in the wider world community.
 
The shipping industry is one that thrives on creativity and innovation; and it is you, the naval architects, who can provide these qualities.
 
Ladies and gentlemen,
 
As a Naval Architect and a member of the Japan Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers and other Japanese professional societies in the field of marine engineering; being aware of the long history of association and co-operation between RINA and the Japanese naval architects; and, more importantly, as Secretary-General of IMO; it is a great pleasure for me to be with you this evening.  As a way to show my respect to the world’s naval architects, I would like to ask you to join me to raise a glass to the Royal Institution of Naval Architects, in recognition of the Institute’s great contributions and achievements over the past 150 years and in expectation of continuous good work for the maritime world in the future.
 
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