Maritime Safety Committee - 78th session: 12 - 21 May 2004

Opening address by the Secretary-General


The implementation of the maritime security measures adopted by IMO in 2002 must be given urgent priority, the IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) agreed when it met at the Organization's London Headquarters for its 78th session from 12 to 21 May 2004.

Other important issues on the MSC agenda included the adoption of amendments to the SOLAS and SAR Conventions relating to the treatment of persons in distress at sea; and issues related to the safety of bulk carriers and to large passenger ship safety.

Implementation of maritime security measures, ISPS Code
The MSC considered issues relating to the implementation of the maritime security measures which enter into force on 1 July 2004.

Control and Compliance Measures
The MSC, recognizing that the consistent, uniform and harmonized implementation of the control and compliance measures will contribute towards the enhancement of maritime security, adopted resolution MSC.159(78) on Interim Guidance on Control and Compliance Measures to Enhance Maritime Security.

Shore leave and access to ships under the ISPS Code
The Committee once more acknowledged the need for a proper balance between the needs of security, the protection of the human rights of seafarers and port workers, and the requirement to maintain the safety and working efficiency of the ship, particularly when allowing access for activities such as the taking on board of stores, repair and maintenance of essential equipment and other vital activities that are appropriately undertaken when a ship is moored at port facilities.

Guidelines for the Implementation of SOLAS chapter XI 2 and the ISPS Code
The Committee approved an MSC Circular on Guidelines for the Implementation of SOLAS chapter XI 2 and the ISPS Code which provides guidance on:

  - security measures and procedures to be applied at the ship/port interface when either the ship or the port facility do not comply with the requirements of chapter XI 2 and of the ISPS Code;
  - security measures and procedures to be applied by a ship, which is required to comply with the requirements of chapter XI-2 and the ISPS Code, when it interfaces with an FPSO or an FSU; and
  - implementation of the ISPS Code in relation to shipyards.


Designation of the Master as the Ship Security Officer
The Committee endorsed the conclusion of the Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation (FSI) that the provisions of the ISPS Code did not prevent the master from being appointed as the Ship Security Officer, if so decided by the Administration.

ILO/IMO Code of Practice on Security in Ports.
The MSC approved for publication the draft ILO/IMO Code of practice on security in ports (http://www.imo.org/home.asp?topic_id=881 )

Large passenger ship safety
The MSC reviewed progress made to date on consideration of issues relating to the safety of large passenger ships and re-established the ad hoc Working Group on Large Passenger Ship Safety to update the work programme. The revised work programme, which includes the following main tasks/objectives, to:

- improve ship survivability in the event of grounding, collision or flooding with a view to minimizing the need to abandon the ship;
- consider fire protection and prevention measures with a view to minimizing the need to abandon the ship;
- consider escape, muster and evacuation issues with a view toward ensuring the safe and orderly movement of persons during an emergency;
- review lifesaving appliances and arrangements requirements with a view to improving evacuation, recovery measures and subsequent SAR procedures;
- evaluate recovery and rescue techniques and equipment and propose measures as appropriate;
- develop measures to assess alternative designs and arrangements so as to ease the approval of new concepts and technologies provided that an equivalent level of safety is achieved;
- review human element issues with regard to operations, management and training with a view towards improving safety;
- consider measures to ensure ships can safely proceed to port after a fire or flooding casualty;
- consider measures to improve prevention of groundings and collisions;
- review medical management practices including facilities, equipment, personnel qualifications and staffing levels;
- improve measures related to ship security; and
- review measures related to health-safety on board.

The MSC agreed that future work should continue to come under the agenda item entitled "Large passenger ship safety" with a view to resolving the scope of the work at MSC 79. In the meantime, the MSC instructed its subsidiary bodies to develop relevant parameters, as necessary, in respect of the scope of application of any proposed recommendations.


Fire and flooding thresholds and timeframes

The MSC agreed that, as a general principle, casualty thresholds (extent of damage) should be prepared to stipulate the amount of damage a ship must be able to withstand and still be able to return safely to port under its own power. In addition, the Committee agreed that, even if this casualty threshold is exceeded, a ship is to remain habitable for a minimum period of time to allow for its safe and orderly abandonment. To this end, the MSC approved casualty thresholds for fire and flooding and agreed a "time to remain habitable" of three hours. The Sub-Committees will use these criteria in the development of appropriate requirements.

Human element
The Committee re-convened the Joint MSC/MEPC Working Group on the Human Element, which began work on the development of a human element strategic plan for the Organization with a view to addressing the human element in maritime safety, environmental protection and security.

The group developed a working document including a preliminary list of possible items to be included in the action plan, which would serve as a basis for developing the strategic plan. The Committee invited Member Governments to submit comments on the proposed plan to the next sessions of the MSC/MEPC.

Goal-based new ship construction standards
The MSC examined in detail the concept that IMO should develop "goal-based" standards for ships' construction and equipment and agreed that a Working Group should meet at the next session, in December (MSC 79).

The Working Group should bear in mind environmental, human element and security issues, the MSC agreed.

The premise behind the development of goal-based standards is that IMO should play a larger role in determining the fundamental standards to which new ships are built.

There is no intention that IMO would take over the detailed work of the classification societies, but rather that IMO would state what has to be achieved, leaving classification societies, ship designers and naval architects, marine engineers and ship builders the freedom to decide on how best to employ their professional skills to meet the required standards.

At present there is no international legislation or guidance on these matters. Therefore the MSC is expected to consider the introduction of a mechanism to ensure harmonised, internationally agreed standards, under the umbrella of IMO.

Bulk carrier safety
The MSC approved proposed amendments to SOLAS chapter XII (Additional safety measures for bulk carriers), with a view to subsequent adoption at MSC 79 in December 2004.

The draft amendments propose the replacement of the existing text of chapter XII with a new text incorporating revisions to some regulations and new requirements relating to double-side skin bulk carriers.

The MSC agreed the addition of a new regulation 14 on Restrictions from sailing with any hold empty.

The MSC agreed to include requirements for double-side skin construction as an optional alternative to single-side skin construction. The option of double-side skin construction would apply to new bulk carriers of 150m in length and over, carrying solid bulk cargoes having a density of 1,000 kg/m3 and above.

In addition, the MSC approved an amendment to SOLAS regulation 31 in chapter III (Life-saving appliances and arrangements) to make mandatory the carriage of free-fall lifeboats on bulk carriers, for adoption at MSC 79.

The MSC also approved for future adoption the draft MSC resolution on Standards and criteria for side structures of bulk carriers of single-side skin construction and the draft MSC resolution on Standards for owners' inspections and maintenance of bulk carrier hatch covers.

The Committee approved MSC circulars on Guidelines for assessing the longitudinal strength of bulk carriers during loading, unloading and ballast water exchange and Guidance for checking the structure of bulk carriers.

Permanent means of access -SOLAS amendments
The MSC adopted amendments to SOLAS regulation 3 6 in chapter II-1 (Construction - Subdivision and stability, machinery and electrical installations) on Access to and within spaces in the cargo area of oil tankers and bulk carriers (resolution MSC.134(76)) and to the associated Technical Provisions for means of access for inspections (resolution MSC.133(76)). The amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2006.

The resolution adopting the amendment includes a paragraph under which the flag State Administration may provisionally apply the amended regulation to new ships to be constructed on or after 1 January 2005 instead of applying the original requirements of regulation II-1/3-6.

The Committee also approved an MSC circular on the Application of SOLAS regulation II-1/3-6 on Access to and within spaces in, and forward of, the cargo area of oil tankers and bulk carriers - Application of the Technical provisions for means of access for inspections, drawing the attention of the Member States to the provisions for their provisional early application as from 1 January 2005.

Persons rescued at sea - amendments to SOLAS and SAR adopted
The MSC (expanded to include all SOLAS Contracting Governments and SAR Parties) adopted amendments to the SOLAS and SAR Conventions concerning the treatment of persons rescued at sea, and/or asylum seekers, refugees and stowaways. The amendments were developed in response to resolution A.920 on Review of safety measures and procedures for the treatment of persons rescued at sea, adopted by IMO's 22nd Assembly following a number of incidents that highlighted concerns surrounding the treatment of persons rescued at sea.

The prime concern with respect to such incidents was that, unless the matter was considered in all its aspects and appropriate action was taken, there might be a negative impact on the integrity of the global search and rescue system which IMO has put in place.

The amendments include:

- SOLAS - chapter V (Safety of Navigation) - to add a definition of search and rescue services; to set an obligation to provide assistance, regardless of nationality or status of persons in distress, and mandate co-ordination and co-operation between States to assist the ship's master in delivering persons rescued at sea to a place of safety; and to add a new regulation on master's discretion. The SOLAS amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 July 2006,
- SAR - Annex to the Convention - addition of a new paragraph in chapter 2 (Organization and co-ordination) relating to definition of persons in distress, new paragraphs in chapter 3 (Co-operation between States) relating to assistance to the master in delivering persons rescued at sea to a place of safety and a new paragraph in chapter 4 (Operating procedures) relating to rescue co- ordination centres initiating the process of identifying the most appropriate places for disembarking persons found in distress at sea. The SAR amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2006.


The MSC also adopted related Guidelines on the treatment of persons rescued at sea. The aim is to provide guidance with regard to humanitarian obligations and obligations under the relevant international law.

Global SAR plan - international SAR Fund agreed
The MSC agreed to establish an international Search and Rescue (SAR) Fund as soon as possible to support the establishment and continued maintenance of regional Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres (MRCCs) and Maritime Rescue Sub-Centres (MRSCs) along the African coastlines.

(See IMO Briefing 19/2004 - IMO Safety meeting recommends international fund to set up African search and rescue services for ships in distress http://www.imo.org/home.asp?topic_id=848&doc_id=3612 .)

The MSC also approved the establishment and composition of the Global SAR Development Advisory Group. The Global SAR Development Advisory Group will consist of:

- the Chairman of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)/IMO Joint Working Group;
- a representative from the International Lifeboat Federation (ILF) Secretariat;
- a representative from the IMO Secretariat; and
- a representative from the ICAO Secretariat,

and would provide advice to ICAO, IMO and ILF with respect to the co ordination of the SAR development activities.

Preventing accidents with lifeboats - amendments to SOLAS
The expanded MSC adopted amendments to SOLAS chapter III (Life-saving appliances and arrangements) which are intended to help prevent accidents with lifeboats during drills. The amendments, which are expected to enter into force on 1 July 2006, stem from work by the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment (DE) intended to address the unacceptably high number of accidents with lifeboats that have been occurring over recent years. Crew have been injured, sometimes fatally, while participating in lifeboat drills and/or inspections.

The amendments to Regulation 19 (Emergency training and drills) and Regulation 20 (Operational readiness, maintenance and inspections) concern the conditions in which lifeboat emergency training and drills should be conducted and introduce changes to the operational tests to be conducted during the weekly and monthly inspections, so as not to require the assigned crew to be on board in all cases.

The MSC also approved a circular on Prevention of accidents in high free-fall launching of life boats, in view of recent reports of injuries sustained during launches of free-fall lifeboats from heights greater than 20 metres.

Carriage of immersion suits - amendments to SOLAS
The MSC adopted amendments to SOLAS chapter III Regulation 32 - Personal life-saving appliances to make changes to the number of immersion suits to be carried on all cargo ships. The amendments introduce carriage requirements for one immersion suit per person on board all cargo ships, including bulk carriers. At present, the regulation requires carriage of at least three immersion suits for each lifeboat on a cargo ship, as well as thermal protective aids for persons not provided with immersion suits.

With the adoption of the proposed amendments, which are expected to enter into force on 1 July 2006, immersion suits will become, as lifejackets, a personal life-saving appliance for each person on board thus offering better thermal protection and improved chance of survival and rescue. The MSC also adopted consequential amendments to the 1988 SOLAS Protocol relating to the records of equipment.

IMDG Code amendments including security
The MSC adopted amendments to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code. The amendments update several sections of the Code relating to the carriage of dangerous goods and also include a new chapter 1.4 on Security Provisions intended to address the security of dangerous goods being transported by sea. The amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2006, but may be applied on a voluntary basis from 1 January 2005.

Implementation of the revised STCW Convention
The MSC approved the updated list of Parties which included two additional STCW Parties approved at the session 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.

Amendments to STCW Code
The MSC adopted amendments to STCW Code Part A concerning deletion of the term 'as amended in 1995', which are expected to enter into force on 1 July 2006.

Simplified Voyage Data Recorders - SOLAS amendments approved
The MSC agreed with the recommendation of the Sub-committee on Safety of Navigation (NAV) that retrofitting existing cargo ships with Voyage Data Recorders (VDR) was feasible and desirable and that a simplified VDR (S-VDR) should be specified for existing cargo ships.

The MSC therefore approved - with a view to adoption at MSC 79 - draft amendments to regulation 20 of SOLAS chapter V (Safety of Navigation) on a phased-in carriage requirement for a shipborne S-VDR. The draft regulation requires a VDR, which may be a S-VDR, to be fitted to cargo ships above 3,000 gross tonnage. The proposed draft regulation would phase in the requirement for cargo ships over 20,000 gross tonnage first, by 2007, to be followed by cargo ships above 3,000 gross tonnage, by 2008.

Under SOLAS regulation V/20, passenger ships and ships other than passenger ships of 3000 gross tonnage and upwards constructed on or after 1 July 2002 must carry voyage data recorders (VDRs) to assist in accident investigations. At the time of the adoption of the regulation in 2000 (it entered into force in July 2002), the MSC agreed that a feasibility study on the mandatory carriage of VDRs on existing cargo ships should be carried out

The MSC also adopted resolution MSC.163(78)on Performance Standards for shipborne simplified voyage data recorders (S-VDRs).

Unique company number scheme
The MSC adopted a scheme to implement the IMO Unique Company and Registered Owners Identification Number Scheme. The aim is to facilitate the enhancement of maritime safety, security and pollution prevention and the prevention of maritime fraud by assigning a permanent identification number to companies and registered organizations which will be inserted on ships' certificates.

The MSC also approved a circular letter to Governments and non-governmental organizations on Implementation of the IMO Unique Company and Registered Owners Identification Number Scheme.

Piracy and armed robbery against ships
The MSC reviewed the reports on incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships submitted to IMO and welcomed developments in the implementation of the co-ordinated plan of action to tackle piracy and armed robbery against ships through regional agreements.

The number of acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships, which were reported to the Organization to have occurred or to have been attempted in 2003, was 456, an increase of 69 (18%) over the figure for 2002.

The areas most affected in 2003 (i.e. five incidents reported or more) were the Far East, in particular the South China Sea and the Malacca Strait, South America and the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, West Africa, and East Africa. The number of acts reported to have occurred or to have been attempted increased from 140 to 152 in the South China Sea; from 66 to 96 in the Indian Ocean; from 67 to 72 in South America and the Caribbean; from 47 to 67 in West Africa; and from 34 to 38 in the Malacca Strait, over the 2002 figures. However, the numbers decreased from 3 to 1 in the Mediterranean Sea and from 24 to 22 in East Africa, compared with the 2002 figures.

During 2003, 13 crew members were reportedly killed, including two passengers and six military personnel, 45 persons were wounded and 54 crew went missing. Amongst those still missing to date and unaccounted for are 11 crew members including three crew members thrown overboard. Eleven ships were hijacked and 11 went missing, whilst one ship was set ablaze and one ship was run aground.

Adoption of ships' routeing measures
The MSC adopted the following ships' routeing and other measures, which will take effect on 1 December 2004 at 0000 hours UTC, except for the amendment to the TSS "In the Singapore Strait", which will take effect from 1 January 2005 at 0000 hours UTC:

New traffic separation schemes (TSSs)

- "Off Ra's al Kuh";
- "Approaches to the Port of Ra's al Khafji"; and
- "In the Adriatic Sea".

Amendments to existing TSSs

- Amendment to the existing traffic separation scheme "Between Korsoer and Sprogoe".
- Amendment to the separation zone of the TSS in the Singapore Straits, by which a space for an anchorage area would be released, to take effect on 1 January 2005 at 0000 hours UTC.

Routeing measures other than TSSs

- Mandatory area to be avoided off the north east coast of the North Island of New Zealand.
- Amendment of the existing charting measure in the Great North East Channel of the Torres Strait, off the north east coast of Australia to a two-way route.
- Establishment of an Area to be Avoided (ATBA) in the Paracas National Reserve.

Mandatory Ship Reporting Systems

- Amendments to the existing mandatory Ship Reporting System "in the Torres Strait and Inner Route of the Great Barrier Reef", off the North East coast of Australia (REEFREP).
- Amendments to the existing mandatory ship reporting system "Off Cape Finisterre".

Archipelagic sea lanes - amendments to Ships' Routeing
The Committee adopted amendments to the General Provisions on Ships' Routeing (resolution A.527(14), as amended), concerning the adoption, designation and substitution of archipelagic sea lanes (paragraph 3.13 of Section H (IMO publication "Ships' Routeing)).

Resolutions adopted by MSC 78

Resolution MSC.151(78) - Adoption of amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended
Resolution MSC.152(78) - Adoption of amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended
Resolution MSC.153(78) - Adoption of amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended
Resolution MSC.154(78) - Adoption of amendments to the Protocol of 1988 relating to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974
Resolution MSC.155(78) - Adoption of amendments to the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, 1979, as amended
Resolution MSC.156(78) - Adoption of amendments to the Seafarers' Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Code
Resolution MSC.157(78) - Adoption of amendments to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) code
Resolution MSC.158(78) - Adoption of amendments to the technical provisions for means of access for inspections
Resolution MSC.159(78) - Interim guidance on control and compliance measures to enhance maritime security
Resolution MSC.160(78) - Adoption of the IMO unique company and registered owners identification number scheme
Resolution MSC.161(78) - Amendments to the existing mandatory ship reporting system "In the Torres strait and inner route of the Great Barrier Reef"
Resolution MSC.162(78) - Amendments to the existing mandatory ship reporting system "Off Cape Finisterre"
Resolution MSC.163(78) - Performance standards for shipborne simplified voyage data recorders (S-VDR)
Resolution MSC.164(78) - Revised performance standards for radar reflectors
Resolution MSC.165(78) - Adoption of amendments to the General Provisions on Ship's Routeing (resolution A.572(14), as amended)
Resolution MSC.166(78) - Application of performance standards for marine transmitting heading devices (THDS) to marine transmitting magnetic heading devices (TMHDS)
Resolution MSC.167(78) - Guidelines on the treatment of persons rescued at sea

List of circulars approved by MSC 78

MSC/Circ.1107 - Application of SOLAS regulation II-1/3-6 on Access to and within spaces in, and forward of, the cargo area of oil tankers and bulk carriers and application of the Technical provisions for means of access for inspections
MSC/Circ.1108 - Guidelines for assessing the longitudinal strength of bulk carriers during loading, unloading and ballast water exchange
MSC/Circ.1109 - False security alerts and distress/security double alerts
MSC/Circ.1110 - Matters related to SOLAS regulations XI-2/6 and XI-2/7
MSC/Circ.1111 - Guidance relating to the implementation of SOLAS chapter XI-2 and the ISPS Code
MSC/Circ.1112 - Shore leave and access to ships under the ISPS Code
MSC/Circ.1113 - Guidance to port State control officers on the non-security related elements of the 2002 SOLAS amendments
MSC/Circ.1114 - Guidelines for periodic testing of immersion suit and anti-exposure suit seams and closures
MSC/Circ.1115 - Prevention of accidents in high free-fall launching of lifeboats
MSC/Circ.1116 - Unified interpretations of the IBC and IGC Codes
MSC/Circ.1117 - Guidance for checking the structure of bulk carriers
MSC/Circ.1118 - Implementation of SOLAS regulation V/9 - Hydrographic services
MSC/Circ.1119 - Ship/terminal interface improvement for bulk carriers
MSC/Circ.1112 - Unified interpretations of the IBC and IGC Codes
MSC/Circ.1121 - Parties to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978, as amended, confirmed by the Maritime Safety Committee to have communicated information which demonstrates that full and complete effect is given to the relevant provisions of the Convention
MSC/Circ.1122 - Adoption of the revised NAVTEX Manual
MSC/Circ.1123 - Guidelines on annual testing of L-band satellite EPIRBs
MSC/Circ.1124 - Amendments to the IAMSAR Manual

Other circulars

COLREG.2/Circ.54 New and amended traffic separation schemes and associated routeing measures
SN/Circ.234 Routeing measures other than traffic separation scheme
SN/Circ.235 Mandatory ship reporting systems
SN/Circ.236 Guidance on the application of AIS binary messages
SN/Circ.237 Amendments to the General Provisions on Ships' Routeing
LL.3/Circ.155 Unified interpretations of the 1966 LL Convention
STCW.7/Circ.14 Guidance for masters on keeping a safe anchor watch
STCW.7/Circ.15 Data to be included in documentary evidence of training leading to the award of a certificate of competency
COMSAR/Circ.34 Clarification on the use of NAVTEX B3 B4 characters = 00 and NAVTEX service areas
COMSAR/Circ.3 Recommendations on MF/HF DSC test calls to coast stations

Circular letter
Circular letter No.2554 - Implementation of the IMO unique company and registered owner identification number scheme


__________


Background
IMO is the United Nations agency concerned with safety and security of shipping and protection of the marine environment and is concerned with ensuring ships comply with international standards, including financial security. The Maritime Safety Committee is the highest technical body of the Organization. Delegates from all 163 member States may attend. The main function of the MSC is to consider any matter within the scope of the Organization that directly affects maritime safety and security. It has the mandate to adopt amendments to conventions, such as the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS), Collision Regulations, Load Lines, etc. It is assisted in its work by nine sub-committees which are also open to all Member States. They deal with the following subjects: Bulk Liquids and Gases; Carriage of Dangerous Goods; Solid Cargoes and Containers; Fire Protection; Radiocommunications and Search and Rescue; Safety of Navigation; Ship Design and Equipment; Stability and Load Lines and Fishing Vessel Safety; Standards of Training and Watchkeeping and Flag State Implementation.

The seventy-eighth session of the Maritime Safety Committee was held from 12 to 21 May 2004 under the chairmanship of Mr. Tom Allan (United Kingdom).

Web site: www.imo.org
For further information please contact:
Lee Adamson, Senior External Relations Officer on 020 7587 3153 (media@imo.org) or Natasha Brown, External Relations Officer on 020 7587 3274 (media@imo.org ).