Security issues to fore at IMO safety meeting
Preview: Maritime Safety Committee - 75th session: 15-24 May 2002
Maritime security issues are high on the agenda of IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), which meets for its 75th session from 15 to 24 May, as Member States prepare for a Diplomatic Conference on Maritime Security scheduled for December 2002, at which any new or amended legislation could be adopted.
Other major issues to be tackled include the adoption of proposed amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974, as amended; ongoing work on the safety of bulk carrier ships and large passenger vessels; implementation of the revised STCW Convention; and the adoption of new and amended ships routeing measures.
The meeting will take place at IMO Headquarters in London from 15th to 24th May 2002, under the chairmanship of Mr Tom Allan from the United Kingdom.
“Prevention and suppression of acts of terrorism against shipping” was added to the agenda for the MSC’s 75th session after the IMO Assembly in November 2001 adopted resolution A.924(22), Review of measures and procedures to prevent acts of terrorism which threaten the security of passengers and crews and the safety of ships, following a submission through the Council to the Assembly by IMO Secretary-General Mr. William A. O’Neil.
The resolution calls for a review of the existing international legal and technical measures to prevent and suppress terrorist acts against ships and improve security aboard and ashore in order to reduce any associated risk to passengers, crews and port personnel on board ships and in port areas and to the vessels and their cargoes.
The MSC will review recommendations and proposals on maritime security, including the outcome of discussions during the Intersessional Working Group on Maritime Security (ISWG), which met from 11-15 February 2002, as well as the outcome of discussions on the issue in other IMO bodies.
The ISWG produced a series of recommendations for further elaboration by the MSC 75 as well as other IMO bodies, including the following proposals:
The Legal Committee will report on its work to review the 1988 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation (SUA Convention) and its related Protocol. The Legal Committee will also report on its consideration of how best to define the terms “ownership” and “control” of ships in the context of maritime security.
Amendments to SOLAS
The expanded Committee will consider, for adoption, draft amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974, as amended, to chapters II-1, IV, V, VI and VII, with anticipated entry into force likely to be set for 1 January 2004.
The draft amendments relate to the following:Making the IMDG Code mandatory - the draft amendments to SOLAS chapters VI (Carriage of Cargoes) and VII (Carriage of Dangerous Goods) would make parts of the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code) mandatory. The MSC is also expected to adopt the IMDG Code (Amendment 31-02) in a mandatory form. However, as MSC has agreed, the provisions of the following parts of the Code would remain recommendatory:
The mandatory IMDG Code (Amendment 31-02) also incorporates certain changes relating to specific products, as well as relevant elements of the amendments to the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, Model Regulations adopted by the UN Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods at its twenty-first session in Geneva from 4 to 13 December 2000.
Access to spaces in cargo areas of oil tankers and bulk carriers – the revised draft regulation II-1/12-2in SOLAS chapter II-1 (Construction – structure, sub-division and stability, machinery and electrical installations), Part B (Subdivision and stability), is intended to ensure that vessels can be properly inspected throughout their lifespan, by designing and building the ship to provide suitable means for access. Without adequate access, the structural condition of the vessel can deteriorate undetected and major structural failure can arise.
The regulation would require each space within the cargo area to be provided with a permanent means of access to enable, throughout the life of a ship, overall and close-up inspections and thickness measurements of the ship’s structures to be carried out by the Administration, the Company, as defined in regulation IX/1 and the ship’s personnel and others as necessary. Associated draft Technical provisions for means of access for inspections have been prepared and these would be mandatory under the new regulation.
The revised draft regulation was developed in response to the Erika incident and focuses on the fact that the continued adequacy of the strength of large bulk carriers and tankers depends on their being properly surveyed - which requires action at the design stage.
Currently, SOLAS chapter II-1 regulation 12-2 specifies requirements for access to spaces in the cargo area of oil tankers (only) including cofferdams, ballast tanks, cargo tanks, etc. The minimum dimensions of horizontal and vertical openings are set out. But the revised regulation is intended to address the concern that although the access to spaces in the cargo area should be sufficient to ensure their complete inspection, evidence from current ship designs suggest that a lack of detailed requirements is preventing the regulation from being fully and consistently implemented.
Updates to Chapter - IV Radiocommunications – The draft amendments to the chapter relate to changes following the full implementation of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) on 1 February 1999, which renders some of the provisions relating to implementation dates in the current chapter IV superfluous.
The draft amendments also state that a listening watch on VHF Channel 16 for distress and safety purposes should continue until 2005.
Carriage requirement for IAMSAR Manual – The proposed draft amendment to Chapter V – Safety of Navigation would require ships to carry an up-to-date copy of Volume III of the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual.
The MSC is also expected to adopt amendments to the 1988 Protocol to SOLAS, 1974, relating to updates to the Record of Equipment for the Passenger Ship Safety Certificate (Form P); Record of Equipment for the Cargo Ship Safety Radio Certificate (Form R); Record of Equipment for the Cargo Ship Safety Certificate (Form C).
Adoption of amendments to enhanced survey programme
The MSC will consider the adoption of draft amendments to resolution A.744(18) – Guidelines on the enhanced programme of inspections during surveys of bulk carriers and oil tankers.
The first set of draft amendments relate to surveys of bulk carriers and are intended to improve the survey procedures, in particular looking at repairs to bulk carriers and at the condition of the foremost holds. The draft amendments also propose to add new annexes 11 and 12 after annex 10:
The second set of draft amendments relate to surveys of oil tankers and include revisions of sections relating to repairs on oil tankers and to the intermediate enhanced survey. The draft amendments were proposed following proposals made after the Erika incident of December 1999 and consideration of issues relating to measures to improve the safety of oil tankers.
Piracy and armed robbery against ships
The MSC will be invited to consider issues relating to piracy and armed robbery at sea, in the context of discussions relating to maritime security in general. The latest reports of incidents of armed robbery and piracy at sea are expected to be reviewed as well as the report of the second assessment mission and regional meeting on piracy and armed robbery against ships for Latin American and Caribbean countries (held in Guayaquil, Ecuador - 25 and 26 September 2001) and an oral report on the third and last assessment mission and regional meeting for selected West African countries (Accra, Ghana, 25 and 26 March 2002).
Implementation of the revised STCW Convention
The list of Parties deemed to be giving full and complete effect to the provisions of the revised Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) 1978, as amended, is set to be updated when IMO Secretary-General William O’Neil submits his report on those countries whose evaluations have been completed since the previous MSC meeting, which was an extraordinary session held in November 2001 alongside the IMO Assembly’s 22nd session.
The MSC will be invited to publish the names of any countries that now qualify to be added to the list.
Bulk carrier safety
The Committee will be invited to consider the outcome of work of Sub-Committees tasked with the consideration of various topics relating to bulk carrier safety and submissions by Governments and international organizations on matters arising from the reports concerning the sinking of the bulk carrier Derbyshire and on the various formal safety assessment (FSA) studies on bulk carrier safety which are now completed or nearing completion.
A working group will be established during the session to progress this matter further.
Large passenger ship safety
The safety of large passenger ships was first raised in IMO during the 72nd meeting of the MSC in May 2000, as a result of a personal initiative by Secretary-General William O’Neil. The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) then agreed to undertake a global consideration of safety issues pertaining to these ships and a Working Group on Large Passenger Ship safety began work at the next session of the Committee (MSC 73, in November-December 2000), to review the current safety regime as it relates to large passenger ships.
At this latest session, the MSC will be invited to consider the report of a correspondence group formed to meet between sessions, as well as work carried out by a number of Sub-Committees on tasks set by the MSC. The MSC will also consider a variety of submissions by Governments and international organizations aimed at enhancing the safety of large passenger ships.
A working group will be once again be established during the session to advise the Committee on any further action needed to be taken on the issue.
Role of the human element
The MSC is expected to be invited to consider issues relating to the organization’s work on the role of the human factor in maritime safety.
New and amended ships routeing measures
The MSC will be invited to consider the adoption of the following new and amended ships routing measures which were agreed by the Sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation at its 47th session in July 2000 (with entry into force six months after adoption):
New Traffic Separation
existing Traffic Separation Schemes (TSSs)
other than TSSs
ship reporting systems
IMO is the United Nations agency concerned with safety 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 162 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. It has the power 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.
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