Goal-based standards on agenda at IMO's Maritime Safety Committee

Preview: Maritime Safety Committee - 80th session: 11-20 May 2005

The development of goal-based standards for new ship construction will be high on the agenda when IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) meets at the Organization's London Headquarters for its 80th session from 11 to 20 May 2005.

Other important issues on the MSC agenda include the adoption of revised provisions for subdivision and stability in SOLAS chapter II-1 Construction - Structure, subdivision and stability, machinery and electrical installations, continued work on passenger ship safety and implementation of the maritime security measures adopted by IMO.

Goal-based new ship construction standards
The MSC is expected to re-establish the Working Group on Goal-based New Ship Construction Standards to further progress the work on the issue, based on the premise agreed at the last session that the standards should be broad, over-arching goals against which ship safety should be verified at the design and construction stages and during ship operation. The MSC has already reached general agreement on the proposed five-tier system, consisting of goals (Tier I), functional requirements (Tier II), verification of compliance criteria (Tier III), technical procedures and guidelines, classification rules and industry standards (Tier IV) and codes of practice and safety and quality systems for shipbuilding, ship operation, maintenance, training, manning, etc. (Tier V).

The Working Group is expected to finalize the basic principles of goal-based standards, the Tier I goals and the Tier II functional requirements for consideration and approval by the Committee. In particular, extensive discussions are expected on the functional requirements preliminarily agreed at the last session, concentrating on issues such as design life, environmental conditions, fatigue life, coating life, corrosion addition, structural strength, construction quality, maintenance, transparency, operating conditions, information keeping, actual service life and watertight and weathertight integrity.

Substantial progress is expected with regard to the verification of compliance criteria (Tier III), in particular concerning the question of who should verify the compliance of the classification societies' rules with the goal-based standards and the mechanism and procedure of verification. Other issues will include the consideration of the provisions of the goal-based new ship construction standards could be incorporated in the appropriate IMO instruments, including the preparation of relevant options for the Committee to consider.

Further discussions are expected with regard to other issues raised in the submissions to the session, concentrating, inter-alia, on the linkage between goal-based standards and formal safety assessment, the role of the human element and the relationship between a performance-based and a risk-based approach.

Revised SOLAS chapter II-1 set for adoption
The revision of SOLAS chapter II-1 is intended to harmonize the provisions in the chapter on subdivision and damage stability for passenger and cargo ships. The revised provisions will be applicable to new ships.

The draft amendments, which have been intensively developed over the past decade, are based on the "probabilistic" method of determining damage stability, which is itself based on the detailed study of data collected by IMO relating to collisions. Because it is based on statistical evidence concerning what actually happens when ships collide, the probabilistic concept is believed to be far more realistic than the previously-used "deterministic" method.

The revision has taken into account the results of the HARDER (Harmonisation of Rules and Design Rational) research project: a project undertaken by a consortium of European industrial, research and academic institutions to study the probabilistic approach for assessing a ship's damage stability and to develop new criteria and indexes for subdivision based on probability of survival, taking into account effects from waves, heeling moments, cargo shift, transient effects and equalization arrangements.
The work on the revision of SOLAS chapter II-1 has been carried out largely by the Sub-Committee on Stability and Load Lines and on Fishing Vessels' Safety (SLF).

Bulk carrier construction standards - interpretations
The Committee will consider requests by Members for the preparation of interpretations to the revised SOLAS chapter XII which was adopted by MSC 79 in December 2004 and expected to enter into force on 1 July 2006. The interpretations concern, in particular, regulation XII/6 addressing side shell failure in bulk carriers. Several submissions to the meeting request the development of an authoritative interpretation of the regulation, applicable to bulk carriers of 150 m in length and upwards, carrying solid bulk cargoes having a density of 1,000 kg/m3 and above, constructed on or after 1 July 2006. The Committee is expected to consider the requests and, if there is general agreement that such interpretation is necessary, to instruct its Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment (DE) to prepare a relevant circular for approval by the Committee at its next session.

Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme and draft Code for the implementation of mandatory IMO instruments
The MSC will review the report of the third session of the Joint MSC/MEPC/TCC Working Group on the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme. The scheme is designed to help promote maritime safety and environmental protection by assessing how effectively Member States implement and enforce relevant IMO Convention standards, and by providing them with feedback and advice on their current performance.

The MSC will also consider the draft Code for the implementation of mandatory IMO instruments, developed by the Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation (FSI) to be the audit standard under the Audit Scheme. The results of the MSC's consideration of both issues will be reported to the IMO Council in June 2005 with a view to their formal adoption by the IMO Assembly in November 2005.

Other amendments to SOLAS
The MSC will also consider, with a view to adoption, other amendments to SOLAS, including:

· Draft new SOLAS regulation II-1/3-7 to require construction drawings to be maintained on board and ashore.
· Draft new SOLAS regulation II-1/3-8 concerning towing and mooring equipment. The regulation will require all ships to be provided with arrangements, equipment and fittings of sufficient safe working load to enable the safe conduct of all towing and mooring operations associated with the normal operation of the ship.
· Draft new SOLAS regulation II-1/23-3 concerning water level detectors on new single hold cargo ships other than bulk carriers.
· Draft amendment to SOLAS regulation II-1/31 Machinery control to restrict the application of paragraph 2.10 relating to propulsion control automation systems to new ships only.
· Draft amendments to SOLAS regulation V/19 concerning carriage requirements for shipborne navigational systems and equipment, relating to information provided by the Automatic Identification System (AIS).

Amendments to the ISM Code/ISPS Code
Amendments to the International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention (the ISM Code) and International ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code will be considered for adoption. The proposed amendments would add the Company identification number to the Document of Compliance, Interim Document of Compliance, Safety Management Certificate, Interim Safety Management Certificate, International Ship Security Certificate and Interim International Ship Security Certificate.

Amendments to the Guidelines on the enhanced programme of inspections during surveys of bulk carriers and oil tankers (resolution A.744(18)), as amended
The proposed draft amendments to the Guidelines on the enhanced programme of inspections during surveys of bulk carriers and oil tankers (resolution A.744(18)), as amended, incorporate some elements of the Condition Assessment Scheme (CAS) required for certain single hull tankers under the revised MARPOL regulation I/13G and include re-organization of the guidelines to include a new section on survey guidelines for the inspection of double hull tankers.

Passenger ship safety
The guiding philosophy for work on passenger ship safety is based on the premise that the regulatory framework should place more emphasis on the prevention of a casualty from occurring in the first place and that future passenger ships should be designed for improved survivability so that, in the event of a casualty, persons can stay safely on board as the ship proceeds to port. The MSC has agreed a three-hour "time to remain habitable" to allow for safe and orderly abandonment and ahs agreed to minimum casualty scenarios that a passenger ship must survive and still proceed back to port.

The Sub-Committees on Radiocommunications, Search and Rescue (COMSAR), Ship Design and Equipment (DE), Fire Protection (FP), Stability, Load Lines and Fishing Vessel Safety (SLF) will report to the MSC on their work in meeting the objectives and tasks set by the MSC. These include the preparation of guidelines, standards and proposed draft amendments to the SOLAS convention relating to passenger ship safety, such as standards relating to alternative designs and arrangements; proposed SOLAS regulations and standards for provision of personal life saving appliances for infants and large adults; standards for essential systems and equipment on passenger ships for safe return to port after a casualty and functional requirements for a safe area(s), where people could be accommodated in the event of a fire aboard a passenger ship.

The aim is to complete the work on passenger ship safety by 2006.

The MSC is also expected to consider a possible role for the World Maritime University in co-ordinating search and rescue research projects related to passenger ships.

Work by Sub-Committees on other issues
Other issues under consideration which have been considered by the Sub-Committees, include development of draft circulars or guidelines on reports on marine casualties and incidents, on recommended conditions for extending the period of validity of a certificate, on the transfer of class-related matters between recognized organizations and on interpretations of the date of completion of the survey and verification on which the certificates are based. Also relevant is the development of amendments to survey guidelines under the harmonized system of surveys and certification for MARPOL Annex VI Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships.

Measures to enhance maritime security
The MSC is expected to consider issues relating to the implementation of the special measures to enhance maritime security which were adopted by the Organization in 2002 and entered into force on 1 July 2004.

Proposed Mandatory training and certification requirements for persons to be designated as ship security officers (SSOs), endorsed by the Sub-Committee on Standards of Training and Watchkeeping (STW) will be reviewed. Proposed draft amendments to the STCW Convention and to parts A and B of the STCW Code require candidates for a certificate of proficiency as a ship security officer to demonstrate they have the knowledge to complete a range of tasks, duties and responsibilities, including: maintenance and supervision of the implementation of a ship security plan; assessment of security risk, threat, and vulnerability; undertaking regular inspections of the ship to ensure that appropriate security measures are implemented and maintained; ensuring that security equipment and systems, if any, are properly operated, tested and calibrated; and encouraging security awareness and vigilance.

Long-range identification and tracking of ships
The Committee will consider proposed draft amendments to SOLAS chapter XI-2 Special measures to enhance maritime security to include a new regulation on Long-range identification and tracking of ships. The proposed draft regulation would require ships to transmit information automatically to enable the identification and tracking of the ship by SOLAS Contracting Governments.

Formal safety assessment
A Joint MSC/MEPC Working Group on Formal Safety Assessment (FSA) is to be established to continue the review of the FSA process. The MSC has agreed on the need to improve the process so that, in the future, the Organization could have, as part of its decision-making process, a single, internationally recognized tool upon which to base its decisions and recommendations.

The MSC and the Working Group are expected to discuss the possible establishment of a group of experts which would be entrusted to provide expert judgement in relation to specific FSA studies.

The report of a Correspondence Group on FSA will also be discussed. The report includes proposed draft amendments to the Guidelines for Formal Safety Assessment (FSA) for use in the IMO rule-making process (MSC/Circ.1023 -MEPC/Circ.392).

Implementation of the revised STCW Convention
The list of Parties deemed to be giving full and complete effect to the provisions of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978, as amended, is expected to be updated when IMO Secretary-General Mitropoulos submits his report on those countries whose reports of independent evaluations have been completed since the previous MSC meeting.

IMO - the International Maritime Organization - is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

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