Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation (FSI), 16th session: 2-6 June 2008

Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme - first consolidated audit summary report reviewed

The first steps in establishing a learning process from the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme were put in place, when the first Consolidated Audit Summary Report was considered by the Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation (FSI) at its 16th session.

The Sub-Committee noted that the findings from eight of the audits conducted during 2006 and 2007 had provided valuable lessons on the enforcement and implementation of the 10 mandatory IMO instruments thus far covered by the audit scheme. The findings also identified areas where States had either fallen short in some areas or had encountered some difficulties - although, in general, the audits had found that the Member States concerned substantially met their obligations.

The Sub-Committee referred the Review of the Consolidated Audit Summary Report to a correspondence group, tasking it with developing a methodology for the analysis of the report, in order to provide feedback to Member States and the Organization on recurrent findings, including the identification of possible underlying causes and best practices; provide feedback on the effectiveness of the implementation by Member States of mandatory instruments falling within the scope of the audit scheme; and identify areas where specific technical co-operation activities would benefit Member States. The group will then conduct a trial with the methodology, summarize the outcome, and make recommendations.

So far, 21 audits have been carried out, including one in a dependent territory; 43 IMO Members have volunteered to be audited and 124 auditors have been nominated.

Casualty analysis
The Sub-Committee continued its work on casualty analysis and approved casualty analyses for release on the IMO Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS) (, as well as lessons learned for presentation to seafarers, for release on the IMO website (

Revised reporting format on marine casualties and incidents
The Sub-Committee developed revised reporting formats on marine casualties and incidents in the form of a draft MSC-MEPC.3 circular for submission to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) and Marine environment Protection Committee (MEPC). The reporting formats update and replace the reporting forms regarding Damage cards, Intact stability casualty records, Fire casualty records, Reports on investigations into serious casualties and Incidents involving dangerous goods or marine pollutants in packaged form. The Guidelines for the investigation of accidents where fatigue may have been a contributing factor and the Questionnaire on the maritime distress system are also updated and a reporting format on Incidental spillages of harmful substances of 50 tonnes or more has been added.

Investigation into the MSC Napoli
Following the review of the "Report on the investigation of the structural failure of MSC Napoli in the English Channel on 18 January 2007", the Sub-Committee identified four main issues for consideration: misdeclaration and loading of containers; the human element; the structural strength of container ships; and the pending International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) Code of good practice for the container shipping industry.

The Sub-Committee recommended that the MSC consider:

  • referring the investigation report to the Sub-Committee on ship Design and Equipment (DE) and the Joint MSC-MEPC Working Group on the Human Element for review;
  • inviting Administrations to bring to the attention of their vessel owners and operators the recommendation in the report to the ship's operator to review its safety management system and auditing procedures to ensure that: guidance and instructions to masters regarding speed in heavy weather take into account the lessons learned from this accident; the shore management consults with the relevant classification societies when there is any doubt regarding the criticality of machinery items on board its vessels, which are defective or unserviceable; and Masters are fully aware of the requirement to inform embarked pilots of all factors affecting manoeuvrability and stability; and,
  • inviting the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) to provide an update on its review of the relevant standards.

Proposed study on combining casualty and PSC data - terms of reference agreed

The Sub-Committee agreed terms of reference for a study on combining casualty and PSC data, the aim being to study whether correlation might be established between casualty statistics and PSC outcomes, including the detention ratio. Among other things, the study would consider the cause of each casualty reported, in order to separate human factors from equipment or structural failures.

Mandatory reports under MARPOL
The Sub-Committee considered the summary analysis of the reports submitted for 2006 in relation to the MARPOL Convention and noted the following:

  • 22 incidents of spillages of 50 tonnes or more were reported (in most cases, the type of substance spilled was oil);
  • 278 incidental spillages of less than 50 tonnes were reported (in most cases, oil);
  • 48 cases of alleged discharge violations were reported(in most cases, oil);
  • the total number of ships boarded for port State control was 51,589 for 2006, while the total number of ships detained in port or that were denied entry was 1,053, or 2% of those boarded; and
  • 67 ships were reported as having no IOPP Certificate or equivalency, 755 ships were reported to have discrepancies in their IOPP Certificate or equivalency; 129 ships were reported to have no Oil Record Book or equivalency; 2,930 ships were reported to have discrepancies in their Oil Record Book or equivalency; 192 ships lacked required pollution prevention equipment on board; and 2,952 ships were reported with required equipment not functioning;

Although, at 24.6 per cent, the rate of reporting in 2006 was better than in previous years, it still remained low and the Sub-Committee urged all Parties to MARPOL to submit mandatory reports

Port reception facilities
As part of its work on the Action Plan to tackle the alleged inadequacy of port reception facilities, the Sub-Committee agreed standardized forms for the Advance Notification Form and for the Waste Delivery Receipt, to be used by ships delivering wastes and residues to reception facilities and forwarded them to the MEPC for its approval.

The Sub-Committee also reviewed data submitted to the Port Reception Facility Database (PRFD), a module of GISIS, consisting of 89 cases of alleged inadequacies - of which 59 per cent of all reports received had been submitted by a single ship and by the ships of a sigle company. It was felt that the low level of reporting could be due to lack of incentives for reporting; fear (by the master and/or company) that ships may be penalized at future port calls; or a belief that reporting would only generate paper work and would not achieve any improvements towards the provision of adequate facilities. However, it was also suggested that the low numbers of reports might reflect that there is no serious problem of inadequacy of reception facilities.

The Sub-Committee urged those Member States that had not already done so to populate GISIS with records of reception facilities in their ports and with their contact points and to disseminate to shipping companies the form for reporting alleged inadequacies of port reception facilities. The Sub-Committee also urged non-governmental organizations representing shipowners to stress to their members the value of reporting in tackling the inadequacy of port reception facilities.

Review of the Survey Guidelines under the HSSC
The Sub-Committee developed draft amendments to the Survey Guidelines under the Harmonized System of Survey and Certification (HSSC) to update the guidelines with reference to amendments adopted to mandatory instruments and to include a new Appendix 3 on Survey guideline under the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on ships (AFS 2001). The draft amendments will be further developed by an intersessional correspondence group.

Unified interpretation
The Sub-Committee agreed to a draft MSC/MEPC circular on Unified interpretation of the application of regulations governed by the building contract date, the keel laying date and the delivery date for the requirements of the SOLAS and the MARPOL Conventions and a draft MSC circular on Meaning of "First Survey", for submission to MSC 85 for approval.

Applicability of regulations to FPSOs and FSUs
The Sub-Committee considered, in detail, the issue of the applicability of the SOLAS and Load Lines Conventions to floating production, storage and offloading facilities (FPSOs) and floating storage units (FSUs), recognizing that, in their normal mode of operation, they do not fall under the safety provisions of the SOLAS Convention.

While the majority of the delegations which spoke during the session were satisfied that the existing legal framework was adequate and sufficient, some Member States expressed concerns, mainly as coastal States, that the potential threat to maritime safety and the marine environment required that a technical review of the matter be conducted by the Organization with a view to developing guidelines for the application of safety requirements to FPSOs and FSUs.

Those Member States supporting a technical review were invited to make proposals for a new work programme item to MSC 85.

Establishment of PSC data exchange moves forward
The Sub-Committee reviewed an agreement, in principle, by the large majority of PSC regimes, to sign data exchange protocols with IMO for the provision of all PSC inspection data and agreed to recommend to the Committees to request the Secretariat to proceed with the finalization of protocols with the Secretariats of those PSC regimes; and to liaise with the PSC Information Centres to establish the data exchange. The aim is for the PSC regimes to use GISIS to share data among themselves.

Illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing
The Sub-Committee reviewed the report of the second meeting of the Joint IMO/FAO Ad Hoc Working Group on Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Related Matters, held in July 2007 at the Headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome and stressed the importance of future collaboration, in particular in the following areas:

  • implementation of port State measures;
  • development of a comprehensive global record of fishing vessels;
  • information sharing and co-ordination with regard to vessel identification, monitoring and tracking, such as vessel monitoring systems, LRIT and AIS;
  • development of criteria for assessing the performance of flag States, taking into account the experience of IMO in relation to the ISM Code and the Voluntary IMO Member States Audit Scheme;
  • implementation of security measures for non-convention vessels;
  • development of PSC guidelines for the implementation of the 2007 ILO Work in Fishing Convention; and
  • collaboration in relation to work on marine debris, including work on "Abandoned, Lost and Otherwise Discarded Fishing Gears" through the MEPC Correspondence Group working on the review of MARPOL Annex V Regulations for the prevention of pollution by garbage from ships.