IMO Maritime Safety Committee adopts mandatory casualty investigation code

Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), 84th session: 7-16 May 2008

IMO adopted a mandatory casualty investigation code and moved forward with the implementation of long-range identification and tracking (LRIT) of ships, when the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) met in London, for its 84th session from 7 to 16 May.

New casualty investigation Code adopted
The MSC adopted a new Code of International Standards and Recommended Practices for a Safety Investigation into a Marine Casualty or Marine Incident (Casualty Investigation Code). Relevant amendments to SOLAS Chapter XI 1 were also adopted, to make parts I and II of the Code mandatory. Part III of the Code contains related guidance and explanatory material.

The Code will require a marine safety investigation to be conducted into every "very serious marine casualty", defined as a marine casualty involving the total loss of the ship or a death or severe damage to the environment.

The Code will also recommend an investigation into other marine casualties and incidents, by the flag State of a ship involved, if it is considered likely that it would provide information that could be used to prevent future accidents.

The new regulations expand on SOLAS Regulation I/21, which requires Administrations to undertake to conduct an investigation of any casualty occurring to any of its ships "when it judges that such an investigation may assist in determining what changes in the present regulations might be desirable".

Long Range Identification and Tracking
The MSC made a number of decisions to ensure the timely implementation of the LRIT system. SOLAS regulation V/19-1 on LRIT entered into force on 1 January 2008 and will apply to ships constructed on or after 31 December 2008 with a phased implementation schedule for ships constructed before 31 December 2008. The LRIT system is intended to be operational with respect to the transmission of LRIT information by ships from 30 December 2008.

The MSC adopted a resolution on the Establishment of the International LRIT Data Exchange on an interim basis, confirming that the International LRIT Data Exchange will be provided temporarily by the United States at their own expense and that a permanent solution should be found as soon as possible.

The MSC endorsed a financial model based on the "user pays" principle, agreeing that charges for the provision of LRIT information for the search and rescue of persons in distress at sea should, in all cases, be free of charge to the search and rescue service of the Contracting Government requesting such information.

The Committee adopted revised Performance Standards and functional requirements for the long-range identification and tracking of ships, to update previous versions, and agreed MSC.1 Circulars giving Guidance on the survey and certification of compliance of ships with the requirement to transmit LRIT information; Guidance on Search and Rescue Services in relation to requesting and receiving LRIT information; Guidance on the implementation of the LRIT system; and Interim revised Technical Specifications for the LRIT system.

The International Maritime Satellite Organization (IMSO), acting as LRIT Co-ordinator, will authorize the integration, on an interim basis, of the Data Centres that have undergone and satisfactorily completed developmental testing, into the production LRIT system.

Meanwhile, the ad hoc LRIT Group was authorized to consider and adopt amendments to technical specifications for the LRIT system on behalf of the Committee, during the period between MSC 84 and MSC 85 (meeting November-December 2008), and to develop, agree and adopt, the documentation for the testing and integration of the LRIT system. The Committee also instructed the ad hoc LRIT Group to consider and report to MSC 85 on all matters relating to the development of a plan for the continuity of service of the LRIT system and, if possible, to develop such a plan.

Amendments to SOLAS
The MSC adopted the following amendments to SOLAS chapters II 1, II 2, III, IV and XI 1. The amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2010:

  · amendments to SOLAS chapter II-2, regarding drainage of special category and ro-ro spaces to prevent accumulation of water on the vehicle deck of ro-ro ships;
  · amendments to SOLAS Chapter XI 1 to add a new Regulation 6 (Additional requirements for the investigation of marine casualties and incidents) to make mandatory parts I and II of the new Casualty Investigation Code;
  · a new SOLAS regulation II-1/3-9 (Means of embarkation on and disembarkation from ships), to require ships built after its adoption and entry into force to be provided with means of embarkation and disembarkation, such as gangways and accommodation ladders;
  · A new SOLAS regulation and amendments to SOLAS regulation II-1/3-4 (Emergency towing arrangements on tankers), to extend the regulation to ships other than tankers. The MSC also approved Guidelines for owners/operators on preparing emergency towing procedures; and
  · Amendments to regulations III/6, III/26 and IV/7 to replace requirements for "radar transponders" with a requirement for a "search and rescue locating device".

Amendments to 1988 SOLAS Protocol
The MSC adopted amendments to the 1988 SOLAS Protocol, to replace the reference to "radar transponders" with a reference to "search and rescue locating devices", in the form of safety certificate for passenger ships and forms of safety certificate for cargo ships.

Amendments to Guidelines on the enhanced programme of inspections during surveys of bulk carriers and oil tankers
The MSC adopted amendments to the Guidelines on the enhanced programme of inspections during surveys of bulk carriers and oil tankers (resolution A.744(18)) (ESP Guidelines), including a new part B on Survey guidelines for double skin bulk carriers applicable to bulk carriers of 500 gross tonnage and over having double-side skin construction.

Amendments to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code
The MSC adopted Amendment 34-08 to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code. The amendment includes changes to provisions for certain substances, including changes to requirements for documentation for dangerous goods in limited quantities. The amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2010, but may be applied in whole or in part voluntarily from 1 January 2009.

Amendments to HSC Codes
Amendments to the International Codes of Safety for High-Speed Craft (1994 and 2000 HSC Codes) were adopted to bring them in line with SOLAS chapter III amendments on search and rescue locating devices.

Code of Safety for Special Purpose ships adopted
The MSC adopted a revised and updated Code of Safety for Special Purpose Ships (SPS Code), such as sail training ships, cable laying ships and research vessels. The original SPS Code was adopted in 1983. The 2008 version provides an international standard of safety for new special purpose ships that will result in a level of safety for the ships and their personnel equivalent to that required by SOLAS.

Piracy and armed robbery against ships
The MSC discussed the continued concern about increased incidents of piracy off the coast of Somalia and IMO Secretary-General Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos requested Members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) to support a resolution currently being considered by the UNSC to address the issue and urged all other members to promote, through the United Nations General Assembly, action to prevent piracy off the coast of Somalia.

Meanwhile, the MSC noted that a two-stage, sub regional meeting on piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Western Indian Ocean was held in Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania from 14 to 18 April 2008. The meeting, attended by 13 States from the region, developed and agreed a draft Memorandum of Understanding concerning the suppression of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Western Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, for onward transmission to national authorities and the Council of IMO, with a view to concluding the agreement later this year.

Review of guidelines for prevention and suppression of piracy and armed robbery
The MSC established a correspondence group to review MSC/Circ.622/Rev.1, Recommendations to Governments for preventing and suppressing piracy and armed robbery against ships; MSC/Circ.623/Rev.3 Guidance to shipowners and ship operators, shipmasters and crews on preventing and suppressing acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships; and resolution A.922(22), Code of Practice for the Investigation of the Crimes of Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships. An interim report is expected to be submitted to MSC 85, with a final report being submitted to MSC 86 in 2009.

Goal-based new ship construction standards
The MSC re-established the Working Group on Goal-based Standards (GBS) for New Ship Construction to progress the work on the issue, taking into account the reports of the Working Group on Goal-Based Standards at MSC 83; the interim progress report of the Pilot Panel; and the report of the Correspondence Group on Goal-Based Standards.

A work plan for the continued development of GBS was agreed, which would see MSC 85 finalizing and approving Tiers I to III of GBS for bulk carriers and oil tankers and finalizing and approving associated SOLAS amendments; and MSC 86, in 2009, finalizing generic guidelines for developing goal-based standards.

In the longer term, the work plan would include assessing the experience gained from the application of GBS; application of GBS to other ship types on an incremental basis; and expansion of GBS to cover every aspect of the design and construction of new ships.

Review of STCW Convention and Code
The Committee noted the progress of work relating to the comprehensive review of the STCW Convention and the STCW Code by the Sub-Committee on Standards of Training (STW) and agreed to invite the Council to endorse, in principle, the holding of a Diplomatic Conference in 2010 to adopt amendments emanating from the comprehensive review.

This, the first major review since the 1995 STCW Conference, is intended to ensure that the Convention, as it may be revised, meets and responds adequately to the present and future needs of the shipping industry.

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, was updated when the Secretary-General submitted his report on those countries which had communicated information pursuant to STCW regulation I/7, or reports pursuant to STCW regulation I/8, and whose evaluations had been completed since the previous MSC meeting.

The MSC approved the revised list of confirmed Parties to the STCW convention, which now includes 119 Parties.

Amendments to International Safety Management (ISM) Code approved
Following consideration by the Joint MSC/MEPC Working Group on Human Element, the MSC approved draft amendments to the International Safety Management (ISM) Code, to harmonize the requirement for the extension of the validity of the Safety Management Certificate (SMC) with those of SOLAS certificates and the International Ship Security Certificate (ISSC). The amendments will be submitted for adoption at the next session.

The MSC also prepared a preliminary draft text of amendments to the Revised Guidelines on Implementation of the International Safety Management (ISM) Code by Administrations.

Near-miss reporting
Following consideration by the Joint MSC/MEPC Working Group on Human Element, the MSC approved a draft MSC MEPC.7/Circular on Guidance on near-miss reporting, subject to a concurrent decision by MEPC 58 (meeting in October 2008).

The circular encourages reporting of near-misses so that remedial measures can be taken to avoid recurrences; and gives guidance on the implementation of near-miss reporting. The circular notes that companies should investigate near-misses as a regulatory requirement under the "Hazardous Occurrences" part of the ISM Code.

Work programmes of the sub-committees
The Committee took a series of decisions regarding the work programmes of the Sub Committees and, in particular, the inclusion of an item on the development of an agreement on the implementation of the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol in the work programme of the SLF Sub Committee and an item on the development of a Code for recognized organizations in the work programme of the FSI Sub Committee.

Briefing 19, 23 May 2008

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