IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), which meets at the Organization's London headquarters for its 95th session from 3 to 12 June 2015, is expected to adopt a new mandatory code for gas-fuelled ships. The Committee will also consider cyber security matters and passenger ship safety, as well as a number of items put forward by the sub-committees.
IGF Code set for adoption
The MSC is expected to adopt the draft International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other Low-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code), along with draft amendments to make the Code mandatory under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).
As a fuel with lower emissions than fuel oil and marine diesel oil, the use of gas as fuel, particularly liquefied natural gas (LNG), has increased in recent years. But gas as fuel poses its own set of safety challenges, which need to be properly managed. The IGF Code aims to minimize the risk to the ship, its crew and the environment, having regard to the nature of the fuels involved.
The proposed draft amendments to SOLAS chapter II-1 (Construction – Structure, subdivision and stability, machinery and electrical installations), include amendments to Part F Alternative design and arrangements, to provide a methodology for alternative design and arrangements for machinery, electrical installations and low-flashpoint fuel storage and distribution systems; and a new Part G Ships using low-flashpoint fuels, to add new regulations to require ships constructed after the date of entry into force to comply with the requirements of the IGF Code, together with related amendments to chapter II-2 and Appendix (Certificates).
The IGF Code will provide mandatory provisions for the arrangement, installation, control and monitoring of machinery, equipment and systems using low-flashpoint fuels, focusing initially on LNG.
The Code addresses all areas that need special consideration for the usage of low-flashpoint fuels, taking a goal-based approach, with goals and functional requirements specified for each section forming the basis for the design, construction and operation of ships using this type of fuel.
The MSC will also be invited to adopt related amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), and STCW Code, to include new mandatory minimum requirements for the training and qualifications of masters, officers, ratings and other personnel on ships subject to the IGF Code.
Adoption of other amendments
The MSC will also be invited to consider, for adoption:
• draft amendments to SOLAS regulations II-2/4.5 and II-2/11.6, clarifying the provisions related to the secondary means of venting cargo tanks in order to ensure adequate safety against over- and under-pressure in the event of a cargo tank isolation valve being damaged or inadvertently closed, and SOLAS regulation II-2/20 relating to performance of ventilation systems.
• draft amendments to the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code, to improve the requirements relating to the provisions for concentrates or other cargoes which may liquefy; amendments to provisions for specially constructed cargo ships for confining cargo shift; the addition of new individual schedules such as iron ore fines, among others, and amendments to a number of existing ones, including a revised schedule for iron ore.
Cyber security on agenda
The MSC will consider a number of submissions relating to cyber security, including a proposal to develop voluntary guidelines on cyber security practices to protect and enhance the resiliency of cyber systems supporting the operations of ports, vessels, marine facilities and other elements of the maritime transportation system.
Piracy and armed robbery against ships
The MSC will review statistics on reported incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships and consider related submissions, including a proposal to review the boundaries of the “High Risk Area”, as outlined in the Best Management Practices (BMP) for Protection against Somalia Based Piracy (for the purpose of BMP, the High Risk Area is set as “an area bounded by Suez and the Strait of Hormuz to the North, 10°S and 78°E”).
Work to continue on passenger ship safety
The MSC is expected to continue its ongoing work related to passenger ship safety and update its long-term action plan.
The MSC will also receive a report on the outcome of the Conference on the enhancement of safety of ships carrying passengers on non-international voyages, held in Manila, the Philippines, in April, which adopted guidelines to aid the process of reducing the mounting toll of accidents involving such vessels by addressing the question of whether a ship is fit for purpose in its intended role.
Unsafe mixed migration by sea
The MSC will receive a report on the outcome of the inter-agency high-level meeting to address unsafe mixed migration by sea, which was held from 4 to 5 March 2015 and will be updated on the joint databases being developed by IMO, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on migrant incidents and on suspected smugglers and vessels. A special session of the MSC on unsafe mixed migration by sea will be held on the morning of Tuesday, 9 June.
Ship routeing measures to be adopted
The MSC is expected to adopt new ship routeing measures aimed at protecting sensitive areas in the south-west Coral Sea off Australia, linked to a proposed extension of the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA), including an “area to be avoided” (ATBA) and two new, five nautical mile wide, two-way routes; and to adopt five recommendatory ATBAs in the region of the Alaska Aleutian Islands.
Approval of amendments for future adoption
The MSC is expected to approve the following, for adoption at a future session:
• draft amendments to the STCW Convention and part A and B of the STCW Code related to revised training requirements for masters and deck officers on board ships operating in polar waters;
• draft amendments to SOLAS chapter II-1 on subdivision and damage stability regulations;
• draft amendments to SOLAS regulation II-2/13 on evacuation analysis; draft amendments to SOLAS regulation II-1/22 on watertight doors (the MSC will also be invited to approve the related draft Guidance for watertight doors on passenger ships which may be opened during navigation and the associated draft MSC circular);
• draft amendments to chapter 8 of the International Code for Fire Safety Systems (FSS Code) regarding prevention of internal corrosion and clogging of sprinklers and draft new chapter 17 of the FSS Code, containing mandatory requirements for helicopter facility foam fire-fighting appliances.
In connection with other issues arising from the reports of IMO sub-committees and other bodies, the MSC will be invited to:
• consider draft Guidance on a methodology for determining limitations for operation in ice, developed by a correspondence group;
• approve a draft MSC circular on Guideline on Software Quality Assurance and Human Centred Design for e-navigation;
• approve draft amendments to update the long-range identification and tracking (LRIT) system performance standards and related circulars, to improve the functioning of the LRIT system;
• approve a draft MSC circular on ECDIS – Guidance for good practice;
• approve the draft Interim Guidelines for use of Fibre Reinforced Plastic (FRP) elements within ship structures: Fire safety issues;
• approve the draft MSC circular on Revised design guidelines and operational recommendations for ventilation systems in ro-ro cargo spaces;
• approve the draft MSC circular on Amendments to the Revised guidelines for the maintenance and inspection of fire protection systems and appliances (MSC.1/Circ.1432);
• consider the views and decisions related to the work on measures for on-board lifting appliances and winches with a view to deciding on whether mandatory SOLAS requirements need to be prepared in addition to the development of guidelines for safety on-board lifting appliances and winches;
• consider which of the high-priority tasks from the approved e-navigation Strategy Implementation Plan (SIP) should be prioritized for future work; and
• consider progress made on the implementation of the Goal-based Standards (GBS) verification audits; and the draft Interim guidelines for the application of the goal based standards safety-level approach to the IMO rule-making process.