IMO Sub-Committee acts on ERIKA incident
Safety of Navigation - 46th session: 10-14 July 2000
mandatory ship-reporting system in English Channel approved
IMO's Sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation has approved a new mandatory ship-reporting
system which would be applicable in the central English Channel, making it easier
to track and communicate with ships in the area. The system would supplement
the existing mandatory ship-reporting systems already established at Ouessant
and in the Pas de Calais.
The system will be put forward to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) at its
73rd session in November-December 2000 for adoption and would enter
into force at 0000 hours UTC, six months after its adoption by the Committee.
The proposal for the new mandatory ship-reporting system follows the sinking
of the tanker Erika off the west coast of France in December 1999 and
should make possible a significant increase in safety, efficiency of navigation
and environmental protection in and around the traffic separation system in
operation off Les Casquets.
Under mandatory ship-reporting systems, ships are obliged to give information
about themselves, including their identity and cargo, to coastal authorities.
Authorities can then track voyages and communicate with ships immediately should
a dangerous situation, such as risk of collision or grounding, arise. Outside
mandatory reporting systems, coastal authorities may only be aware of blips
on radar screens - with no further information on the particular ship.
The implementation of a mandatory ship-reporting system makes it easier to avert
hazardous situations which can be caused by unidentified ships adopting erratic
or even dangerous routes, stopping in a traffic lane after sustaining damage,
or otherwise behaving in a manner which could give rise to confusion in the
absence of information.
The new system, to be called MANCHEREP, would apply to all ships of over 300
gross tonnage and would cover the current traffic separation system off Les
Casquets and the areas bordering upon it. Ships over 300 gross tonnage entering
the area would be required to give information to the coastal authorities, including
name of ship, position, destination and details of cargo if any potentially
dangerous cargoes are carried on board. Coastal authorities would then be able
to track the ships.
Currently, vessel traffic service (VTS) centres located at Corsen, Jobourg and
Gris-Nez monitor the traffic separation schemes (TSS) of Ouessant, les Casquets
and the Pas de Calais respectively, together with the surrounding areas. Mandatory
ship-reporting systems were put in place at Ouessant in 1996 (OUESSREP) and
in the Pas de Calais in 1999 (CALDOVREP).
The proposed mandatory ship-reporting system "Off Les Casquets and the
adjacent coastal area", would be based on the Jobourg VTS, which has been
monitoring shipping in the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) off Les Casquets
and the surrounding area since 1983. The system will replace the voluntary MAREP
reporting system in place in the area.
Some 300 ships pass through the area every day but the identification rate is
just slightly above 40%. Setting up a mandatory reporting system will enable
the rate to be increased significantly. Ships under 300 gross tonnage are recommended
to make reports on a voluntary basis.
IMO Secretary-General Mr. William A. O'Neil, in his opening remarks to the Sub-Committee,
noted that the proposal from France and the United Kingdom for the mandatory
ship reporting system stemmed from the tanker Erika accident off the
Western coast of France in December last year. Since then, the Government of
France had been considering various measures to reduce the likelihood of similar
incidents occurring around its coasts and to strengthen the safety of navigation
and marine environmental protection.
Mr. O'Neil expressed his appreciation to France and other countries for bringing
their proposals to IMO, stressing that IMO "is the right and only place
where issues concerning international shipping safety and environmental protection
should be discussed and resolved".
area" approved as new ships routeing measure
The Sub-Committee approved a proposal to allow "no-anchoring areas"
to be incorporated into the General Provisions on Ships' Routeing. This would
mean that no-anchoring areas should be adopted in areas where anchoring is unsafe,
unstable, hazardous, or it is particularly important to avoid damage to the
marine environment, and therefore anchoring should be avoided by all ships or
certain classes of ships.
The amendments to the General Provisions on Ships Routeing (resolution
A.572(14), as amended) to add "No-anchoring area" as a new ships routeing
measure will be put forward to MSC 73 for adoption, subject to confirmation
by the 22nd Assembly in 2001.
area" on Flower Garden Banks Coral reefs approved
The Sub-Committee approved the establishment of three mandatory no-anchoring
areas on coral reef banks (Flower Garden Banks) in the north-western Gulf of
The proposed measure, to be applicable to all ships, is expected to reduce significantly
the risk of damage to the coral marine environment by ships, without restricting
the sea area available for navigation. The size of the areas and the proposed
measures are limited to what is essential for the interests of safe navigation
and the protection of the marine environment.
TSSs along the Peruvian Coast approved
The Sub-Committee approved four new traffic separation schemes along the Peruvian
coast, for adoption by MSC 73:
Landfall and approaches to Talara Bay;
TSS in Humber approaches approved
The Sub-Committee approved the establishment of new traffic separation schemes
and associated routeing measures in the approaches to the River Humber on the
east coast of England to cope with the increase in the volume of maritime traffic.
to existing TSS in Prince William Sound approved
The Sub-Committee approved amendments to the existing traffic separation scheme
in Prince William Sound (United States). The proposed amendments would reduce
the potential for traffic congestion in the area and contribute to improving
vessel traffic management and safety.
Marine Communication Phrases approved
The Sub-Committee approved draft revised Standard Marine Communication Phrases
(SMCP), intended to replace the Standard Marine Navigational Vocabulary (SMNV)
adopted by IMO in 1977 (and amended in 1985).
The SMNV was developed for use by seafarers, following agreement that a common
language - namely English - should be established for navigational purposes
where language difficulties arise and the SMCP has been developed as a more
comprehensive standardized safety language, taking into account changing conditions
in modern seafaring and covering all major safety-related verbal communication.
The SMCP has been undergoing trials by governments, maritime training institutes
and others involved in maritime communications following approval of the first
draft version by the MSC in 1997.
The SMCP includes phrases which have been developed to cover the most important
safety-related fields of verbal shore-to-ship (and vice-versa), ship-to-ship
and on-board communications. The aim is to get round the problem of language
barriers at sea and avoid misunderstandings which can cause accidents.
The SMCP builds on a basic knowledge of English and has been drafted in a simplified
version of maritime English. It includes phrases for use in routine situations
such as berthing as well as standard phrases and responses for use in emergency
Under the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and
Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978, as revised in1995, the ability to understand
and use the SMCP is required for the certification of officers in charge of
a navigational watch on ships of 500 gross tonnage or above.
The SMCP will be presented to the 22nd session of the IMO Assembly
in 2001 for adoption, after approval by the MSC, following clarification by
the Sub-Committee on Standards of Training and Watchkeeping (STW) on whether
the SMCP meets requirements in the STCW Code (Table A-II/1) and review by the
Sub-Committee on Radio-Communications and Search and Rescue (COMSAR).
amendments to COLREGs approved
The Sub-Committee approved draft amendments to the Convention on the International
Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972 (COLREGs), to be put forward
to MSC 73 for adoption and to the 22nd IMO Assembly in November 2001
for final adoption. The amendments concern: