MSC 106 met in person, complemented by hybrid facilities allowing remote participation.
Adoption of amendments
New SOLAS chapter XV and the new mandatory Code for Industrial Personnel
The Committee adopted the new SOLAS chapter XV and the associated new International Code of Safety for Ships Carrying Industrial Personnel (IP Code), developed by the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction (SDC 8).
The aim is to provide minimum safety standards for ships that carry industrial personnel, as well as for the personnel themselves, and address specific risks of maritime operations within the offshore and energy sectors, such as personnel transfer operations. Such personnel may be engaged in the construction, maintenance, decommissioning, operation or servicing of offshore facilities, such as windfarms, as well as offshore oil and gas installations, aquaculture, ocean mining or similar activities.
The amendments and Code are expected to enter into force on 1 July 2024.
SOLAS chapter II-2 in relation to flashpoint
The Committee adopted draft amendments to SOLAS chapter II-2, intended to prevent the supply of oil fuel not complying SOLAS flashpoint requirements (60°C), enhancing the safety of ships using oil fuel.
The amendments add new definitions and provisions to SOLAS regulation II-2/4 (Probability of ignition), including requiring that ships carrying oil fuel shall prior to bunkering be provided with a declaration signed and certified by the fuel oil supplier's representative that the oil fuel supplied is in conformity with regulation SOLAS II.2/4.2.1 and with the test method used for determining the flashpoint.
The amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2026.
SOLAS Protocol of 1978
The amendments to the 1978 SOLAS Protocol concern the Form of Safety Equipment Certificate for Cargo Ships, ensuring harmonization with the forms of certificates in the appendix (Certificates) to the annex to the 1974 SOLAS Convention, amended by resolution MSC.496(105) for consistency, as a result of the GMDSS modernization.
The amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2026.
IGC and IGF Code amendments
The amendments to chapter 6 of the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (IGC Code) and to chapter 7 of the International Code of Safety for Ships Using Gases or other Low-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code) concern the application of high manganese austenitic steel for cryogenic service in cargo and fuel tanks of LNG carriers and LNG-fuelled ships.
The amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2026.
2011 ESP Code
The amendments to the International Code on the Enhanced Programme of Inspections during Surveys of Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers, 2011 (2011 ESP Code) include those addressing inconsistencies on examination of ballast tanks at annual surveys for bulk carriers and oil tankers the following requirement contained in the condition evaluation report.
The amendments are expected to enter into force on1 July 2024.
The amendments to the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code), relate to survivability and provide exclusions related to those openings fitted with watertight closures for application of the conditions concerning flooding or downflooding.
The amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 July 2024.
Black Sea Grain Initiative
The Committee was updated on the latest developments regarding the successful operation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. The Joint Coordination Centre in Istanbul includes representatives from the United Nations (including IMO), Ukraine, Russian Federation and Türkiye (latest vessel movements can be found on the BSGI website: https://www.un.org/en/black-sea-grain-initiative/vessel-movements).
SOLAS chapter XI-2 and the ISPS Code allow ships' inspections, which form the basis for the implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. The success to date of the Initiative is making a growing contribution to the critical problem of the alleviation of global food supply shortages resulting from the conflict in Ukraine.
Following consideration, the Committee:
encouraged the UN Secretary-General and IMO Secretary-General to continue to work on humanitarian efforts to evacuate all stranded ships and seafarers in the conflict area, including efforts to expand the Initiative to other types of ships and additional ports;
thanked the IMO Secretary-General and the Secretariat for the important contribution to the success of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, in particular the key roles played by the Director of the Legal Affairs and External Relations Division and the Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Maritime Security;
noted the success to date of the Black Sea Grain Initiative which had been achieved through an interagency "One UN approach" involving relevant UN bodies, including IMO, other international agencies, NGOs and the Member States concerned;
emphasized the important contribution that the Black Sea Grain Initiative was making to alleviate the global food supply shortages resulting from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine;
recalled that the Black Sea Grain Initiative had been recognized by the UN Secretary-General as a landmark agreement to help vulnerable people in every corner of the world; and
adopted an MSC resolution on Member States' obligations in connection with search and rescue services under the SOLAS and SAR Conventions in the context of armed conflicts.
Maritime autonomous surface ships (MASS)
The MSC made further progress on the development of a goal-based instrument regulating the operation of maritime autonomous surface ships (MASS). This follows the completion of a regulatory scoping exercise. The aim is to adopt a non-mandatory goal-based MASS Code to take effect in 2025, which will form the basis for a mandatory goal-based MASS Code, expected to enter into force on 1 January 2028.
The MSC was updated on the outcome of the first meeting (September 2022) of the Joint MSC/LEG/FAL Working Group on MASS, which was established as a cross-cutting mechanism to address common issues identified by the regulatory scoping exercises for the use of MASS conducted by the Maritime Safety, Legal and Facilitation Committees.
The Joint Working Group developed a table – intended as a living document – to identify preferred options for addressing common issues, such as: role of MASS master and crew; responsibilities of MASS master and crew; competencies required for MASS master and crew; identification and meaning of terms "remote operator" and "remote control station/centre".
The MSC endorsed the work plan of the Group and, subject to concurrent approval by LEG 110 and FAL 47, agreed to the holding of two meetings of the JWG in each 2022 and 2023, with the next meeting planned to be a hybrid five-day meeting (17 to 21 April 2023), subject to endorsement by the IMO Council.
The MSC noted the structure and draft content of the draft MASS Code, as further developed by MSC MASS Working Group during the meeting, in particular the new draft section on fire safety, based on the guidance and example for the development of functional requirements for the IMO MASS Code developed by the Group.
Recognition of the BeiDou Message Service System for use in the GMDSS
Following the assessment and evaluation of an application by China Transport Telecommunication Information Group Co. Ltd. (CTTIC) to recognize the BeiDou Message Service System (BDMSS) for use in the GMDSS, the MSC adopted an MSC resolution on Statement of recognition of the maritime mobile satellite services provided by CTTIC through BDMSS.
BDMSS was evaluated taking into account the existing requirements of the Criteria for the provision of mobile satellite communication systems in the GMDSS (resolution A.1001(25)).
The recognition is currently limited to a coverage area within 75°E to 135°E longitude and 10°N to 55°N latitude.
IMSO will continue to monitor the implementation of BDMSS and will report to the Committee when the Public Services Agreement with CTTIC has been concluded and the Letter of Compliance has been issued to mark the commencement of services.
Unsafe mixed migration by sea – resolution adopted
The Committee adopted an MSC resolution on Recommended cooperation to ensure the safety of life at sea, the rescue of persons in distress at sea and the safe disembarkation of survivors, intended to emphasize the importance of effective and timely involvement of Governments in cases of rescue of migrants at sea by merchant ships.
The IMO Secretariat has been participating in the UNHCR-led Inter-Agency Group on Protection of Refugees and Migrants moving by Sea, set up to exchange information, experience and good practices concerning mixed migration by sea, SAR activities and safe disembarkation of rescued persons.
As part of the discussion, the Committee noted an intervention by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who called on Member States to establish effective cooperative arrangements enabling safe and predictable disembarkation, as required by those engaged in rescues at sea, including the shipping sector; and engage in inter-state discussions to further define the concept of "place of safety" and consider the development of new, or amendment of existing, provisions of international law of the sea.
Safety of onboard lifting appliances and anchor handling winches
The MSC approved in principle two sets of draft guidelines on lifting appliances and on anchor handling winches to support the implementation of new draft SOLAS regulation II‑1/3-13 which covers requirements for the application, design and construction, operation, inspection, testing and maintenance of onboard lifting appliances and anchor handling winches. The draft SOLAS amendments were approved in principle by MSC 102, with a view to adoption at MSC 107, together with the related guidelines.
The aim of the draft regulation and the two sets of guidelines is to prevent accidents related to lifting appliances and anchor handling winches, which have resulted in harm to operators and damage to ships, cargo, shore-based structures and subsea structures, as well as to the marine environment.
Safety measures for non-SOLAS ships operating in polar waters - Polar Code amendments
The MSC approved, with a view to adoption at the next session, a first set of draft amendments to the Polar Code, together with associated amendments to the SOLAS Convention, to incorporate new requirements for certain non-SOLAS ships concerning safety of navigation and voyage planning. The amendments will be applicable to fishing vessels of 24 m in length overall and above, pleasure yachts of 300 GT and upwards not engaged in trade and cargo ships of 300 GT and upwards but below 500 GT.
The amendments aim to enhance the safety of ships operating under the special conditions the polar areas present, as well as that of the persons on board.
IMO's Polar Code sets out requirements to ensure the safety of ships operating under the harsh conditions of the Arctic and Antarctic areas, taking especially into account extremes of temperature, and that critical equipment remains operational under those conditions.
Ships in polar waters - revision of Interim guidelines on life-saving appliances and arrangements
The MSC approved amendments to the Interim guidelines on life-saving appliances and arrangements for ships operating in polar waters (MSC.1/Circ.1614). The Interim Guidelines outline possible means of mitigating hazards in order to comply with the Polar Code and are intended to assist ship designers and shipowners/operators, as well as Administrations, in the uniform implementation of relevant provisions of the Polar Code, complementing existing requirements of the International Life-saving Appliance (LSA) Code.
The amendments to the Interim Guidelines introduce a methodology for the calculation of the maximum time of rescue, set out in an appendix, so that ships can find out how much supply, such as food rations and fresh water, and which type of equipment they should carry on board.
Revision of Guidelines on places of refuge for ships in need of assistance
The MSC approved a revision of the Guidelines on places of refuge for ships in need of assistance (resolution A.949(23)). The draft revised Assembly resolution will subsequently be submitted to the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) and the Legal Committee (LEG), for concurrent approval, with a view to adoption by the Assembly (A 33) in 2023.
The guidelines were first adopted in 2003 to provide guidance for cases where a ship is in need of assistance, but are not intended to address the issue of operations for the rescue of persons in distress at sea (where SAR provisions shall be followed).
The proposed revision recognizes that various organizational, operational and technological developments have taken place in a rapidly changing global maritime domain. Experience in handling situations of ships in need of assistance has increasingly been gained around the world and informed the revision of the guidelines.
The revised guidelines aim to provide the basis of an operational framework for coastal States, ships' masters, operators and/or salvors as well as other involved parties on how to handle and take a decision when a ship is in need of assistance and seeks a place of refuge.
Among other changes, a new section on media information and management is proposed, recommending that States include in their administrations the capacities (including training) for dealing with media and requests for information in connection with managing a ship in need of assistance seeking a place of refuge.
Piracy and armed robbery against ships
The MSC considered the latest update on global trends relating to piracy and armed robbery against ships. Figures, based on reports submitted to IMO, show an overall 69 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships as having occurred or been attempted from January to June 2022, a decrease of approximately 22% at the global level compared to the same period last year.
However, there has been an increase in the number of incidents in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore with 36 incidents reported from January to June 2022, compared to 27 incidents in the same period last year. The number of incidents that took place in the Gulf of Guinea decreased to 13 from 27 incidents in the same period last year, thanks to the enforcement agencies of coastal States in the region and ongoing international support. The number of incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships reported in the South China Sea is nil, compared to 11 incidents in the same period in 2021 – following the downward trend in the area since 2013, when 142 incidents were reported. No incidents were reported off the coast of Somalia during the reporting period.
The MSC requested Member States to continue to report incidents of piracy and armed robbery to IMO and to complete and keep updated the Questionnaire on information on port and coastal State requirements related to privately contracted armed security personnel on board ships (PCASP) (MSC-FAL.1/Circ.2).
The MSC noted the efforts undertaken to ensure continued implementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct and encouraged Member States to continue to support the DCoC Trust Fund; and called upon Member States, in line with resolution A.1159(32), in cooperation with the Organization and as may be requested by Member States of the region, to assist efforts in the Gulf of Guinea and to consider making financial contributions to the West and Central Africa Trust Fund.
Seafarers' access to the COVID-19 vaccination and medical care
The MSC urged Member States and international organizations to join efforts regarding seafarers' vaccinations, following the example of Panama, which offers easy access to COVID‑19 vaccines to all seafarers. The MSC also agreed that IMO should encourage the establishment of other regional Maritime Humanitarian Hubs where the need was imperative due to the constant arrival of vessels and seafarers, in addition to supporting UN mechanisms led by WHO for the supply of vaccines that would be administered to seafarers in these regional humanitarian logistic centres.
The MSC encouraged all Member States with a maritime single window system to include the request for vaccine doses within the system in order to expedite the international maritime vaccination process. Member States and key sectors of the global maritime industry were urged, echoing the Neptune Declaration, to continue to promote policies and measures that facilitate priority access to vaccines for seafarers, as well as improving the coordination needed for more expeditious crew changes, complying with the health protocols of the region or country where they take place.
In the context of reports on the ongoing practice of denying seafarers medical assistance in ports, including dental and optical care, the Committee invited Member States to:
ensure that seafarers, as key workers, have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, taking into account that they spend most of their time travelling and at sea with a greater degree of testing and regular medical checks than any other person, and are only able to visit the shore for a short time, so a human approach to their medical needs and treatments must be respected; and
acknowledge seafarers' key role and facilitate their repatriation, access to medical care and protection in respect of shipowners' protocols to avoid contagion especially during the gradual relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions.
Proposals for new outputs
The MSC considered a number of proposals for new outputs at the session and consequently agreed to include inter-alia:
in the biennial agenda of the NCSR Sub-Committee for 2022-2023 and the provisional agenda for NCSR 10 an output on "Revision of SOLAS regulation V/23 and associated instruments to improve the safety of pilot transfer arrangements", with a target completion year of 2024;
in the biennial agenda of the III Sub-Committee for 2022-2023 and the provisional agenda for III 9 an output on "Development of guidance to assist competent authorities in the implementation of the Cape Town Agreement of 2012", with a target completion year of 2024;
in the biennial agenda of the CCC Sub-Committee for 2022-2023 and the provisional agenda of CCC 9 an output on "Revision of resolution A.1050(27) to ensure the safety of personnel entering enclosed spaces on board ships", with a target completion year of 2024, in association with other Sub-Committees, as and when requested;
in its post-biennial agenda outputs on:
"Development of measures to ensure the safe operation of elevators on board ships" for the SSE Sub-Committee;
"Amendments to the Guidelines for construction, installation, maintenance and inspection/survey of means of embarkation and disembarkation (MSC.1/Circ.1331) concerning the rigging of safety netting on accommodation ladders and gangways", for the SDC Sub-Committee; and
"Review of the appropriateness and effectiveness of SOLAS regulation IV/5 (Provision of radiocommunication service)", for the NCSR Sub-Committee.
Following consideration of the reports of the Sub-Committees, the MSC:
Adopted a number of ships routeing measures which were approved by the Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR). The measures adopted will be implemented on 1 June 2023.
Adopted resolution MSC.263(84)/Rev.1 on Performance standards and functional requirements for the long-range identification and tracking of ships; and approved draft amendments to a number of LRIT-related circulars.
Approved, for adoption by MSC 107, draft amendments to SOLAS chapter II-2 and the 1994 and 2000 HSC Codes to prohibit the use of fire-fighting foams containing perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). The regulations say that extinguishing media containing such foams shall be delivered to appropriate shore-based reception facilities when removed from the ship. PFOS is harmful to human health and the environment.
Approved Revised guidelines for the approval of fixed dry chemical powder fire-extinguishing systems for the protection of ships carrying liquefied gases in bulk (MSC.1/Circ.1315/Rev.1), in order to enhance the safety level.
Approved amendments to the Revised standardized life-saving appliance evaluation and test report forms (MSC.1/Circ.1630), for circulation as MSC.1/Circ.1630/Rev.1
Approved draft amendments regarding type of immersion and anti-exposure suits to the forms of the record of equipment for certificates in the 1994 and 2000 HSC Codes and the SOLAS Convention, for adoption by MSC 107.
Approved amendments to the Guidelines for the development, review and validation of model courses, to be issued as MSCMEPC.2/Circ.15/Rev.2.
Approved, for adoption by MSC 107, draft amendments to STCW regulations I/1 and I/2, concerning the inclusion of a new definition for "original form of any certificate required by the Convention" emanating from the use of electronic certificates.
Approved, for adoption by MSC 107, draft amendments to section A-I/2 of the STCW Code, clarifying the application of existing terms and terminologies to the certificates and endorsements in electronic form, for adoption by the Committee in conjunction with the adoption of related amendments to the 1978 STCW Convention.
Approved, for adoption by MSC 107, draft amendments to SOLAS chapter V and the appendix (Certificates), the 1978 SOLAS Protocol and the 1988 SOLAS Protocol, for the mandatory carriage of electronic inclinometers for containerships and bulk carriers of 3,000 GT and upwards.
Approved an MSC circular on Guidance for the dissemination of search and rescue related information through the international enhanced group call service.
Approved the revised NAVTEX Manual, to be issued as MSC.1/Circ.1403/Rev.2, with an effective date of 1 January 2023.
Approved a revision of the ECDIS Guidance for good practice, to be issued as MSC.1/Circ.1503/Rev.2. The updated guidance includes, in particular, a new section on onboard ECDIS updates.
Adopted an MSC resolution on Performance standards for electronic chart display and information systems (ECDIS), which revises resolution MSC.232(82) and introduces a phased implementation of new IHO product specifications (i.e. S-98, S-100 and S-101) for ECDIS as from 1 January 2026.
Approved the draft IMO position on relevant agenda items of ITU WRC-23 concerning matters relating to maritime services for submission to the ITU's Conference Preparatory Meeting for WRC-23. The next World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-23) will be held in the United Arab Emirates from 20 November to 15 December 2023.
Approved an MSC circular on Guidance on the training on and operation of emergency personal radio devices in multiple casualty situations.
Noted the status reports addressing audit observations and the updated list of all findings from Goal-based Standards (GBS) audits.
Election of Chair and Vice-Chair
The Committee unanimously re-elected Mrs. Mayte Medina (United States) as Chair and Mr. Theofilos Mozas (Greece) as Vice-Chair, both for 2023.
Resolution.MSC..519(106) – Member States' obligations in connection with search and rescue services under the SOLAS and SAR conventions in the context of armed conflicts
Resolution.MSC..520(106) – Amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 (chapter ii-2)
Resolution.MSC.521(106) – Amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, (chapter xv)
Resolution.MSC.522(106) – Amendments to the Protocol of 1978 relating to the Amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974
Resolution.MSC.263(84)/rev.1 – Performance standards and functional requirements for the long-range identification and tracking of ships
Resolution.MSC.529(106) – Statement of recognition of maritime mobile satellite services provided by CTTIC through BDMSS
Resolution.MSC.530(106) – Performance standards for electronic chart display and information systems (ECDIS)
Resolution.MSC.523(106) – Amendments to the international code for the construction and equipment of ships carrying liquefied gases in bulk (IGC code)
Resolution.MSC.524(106) – Amendments to the International Code Of Safety For Ships Using Gases Or Other Low-Flashpoint Fuels (IGF code)
Resolution.MSC.525(106) – Amendments to the International Code On The Enhanced Programme Of Inspections During Surveys Of Bulk Carriers And Oil Tankers, 2011 (2011 ESP Code)
Resolution.MSC.526(106) – Amendments to the International Code For The Construction And Equipment Of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals In Bulk (IBC Code)
Resolution.MSC..527(106) – International Code Of Safety For Ships Carrying Industrial Personnel (IP Code)
Resolution.MSC.528(106) – Recommended cooperation to ensure the safety of life at sea, the rescue of persons in distress at sea and the safe disembarkation of survivors
MSC.1/Circ.1500/Rev.2 Guidance on drafting of amendments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention and related mandatory instruments
MSC-MEPC.2/Circ.15/Rev.2 Guidelines for the development, review and validation of model courses
MSC.1/Circ.1164/Rev.26 Promulgation of information related to reports of independent evaluation submitted by Parties to the 1978 STCW Convention confirmed by the Maritime Safety Committee to have communicated information which demonstrates that Parties are giving full and complete effect to the relevant provisions of the Convention
MSC.1/Circ.797/Rev.38 List of competent persons maintained by the Secretary-General pursuant to section A-I/7 of the Seafarers' Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Code
MSC.1/Circ.1614/Rev.1 Revised interim guidelines on life-saving appliances and arrangements for ships operating in polar waters
MSC.1/Circ.1315/Rev.1 Revised guidelines for the approval of fixed dry chemical powder fire-extinguishing systems for the protection of ships carrying liquefied gases in bulk
MSC.1/Circ.1655 Unified interpretations of SOLAS chapter II-2
MSC.1/Circ.1630/Rev.1 Revised standardized life-saving appliance evaluation and test report forms
COLREG.2/Circ.78 Traffic separation schemes and associated measures
SN.1/Circ.342 Routeing measures other than traffic separation schemes
MSC.1/Circ.1259/Rev.9 Long-range identification and tracking system – Technical documentation (part I)
MSC.1/Circ.1307/Rev.1 Guidance on the survey and certification of compliance of ships with the requirement to transmit LRIT information
MSC.1/Circ.1376/Rev.5 Continuity of service plan for the LRIT system
MSC.1/Circ.1656 GMDSS operating guidance for ships in distress situations
MSC.1/Circ.1657 Procedure for responding to DSC distress alerts by ships
MSC.1/Circ.1658 Guidance on distress alerts
MSC.1/Circ.892/Rev.1 Guidance on alerting of search and rescue authorities
MSC.1/Circ.1659 Guidance for the dissemination of search and rescue related information through the international enhanced group call service
MSC.1/Circ.1403/Rev.2 NAVTEX Manual
MSC.1/Circ.1660 Guidance on the training on and operation of emergency personal radio devices in multiple casualty situations
MSC.1/Circ.1503/Rev.2 ECDIS – Guidance for good practice
MSC.1/Circ.1661 Guidance framework for the application of casualty cases and lessons learned to seafarers' education and training
MSC-MEPC.1/Circ.5/Rev.4 Organization and method of work of the Maritime Safety Committee and the Marine Environment Protection