IACS Council meeting

IACS Council meeting
31 May 2012
St. Petersburg
Speech by Koji Sekimizu
Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization

Council chairman, Council members, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be with you this morning, and I welcome the opportunity to be able to share a few thoughts with you at this IACS Council meeting.

I am sorry that I was not, as usual, able to be with you at the most recent winter meeting of the IACS Council but nevertheless am glad that my schedule allowed me to attend this summer meeting instead.
Let me begin by reiterating something of which I hope you are already aware, namely my strong appreciation of how important the contribution of IACS, and the classification societies you represent, has been for the work of IMO in the years since IACS was awarded consultative status in 1969.  Your continuing role in helping the Organization to achieve its main objectives, in particular, the development of a practicable and workable regulatory framework for global shipping, is crucial, universally recognized and highly valued. 

Not only that, but by making sure that ships are built and surveyed to the standards laid down by your respective member organizations, in accordance with the statutory requirements set out in the relevant international instruments, IACS has a very direct influence on the quality of ships constructed and operated under its members’ oversight.

There can be no doubt that the classification system has served the shipping industry well. The technical input of the societies to the work of IMO, through IACS, is of immense value to the Organization.  It is highly important that the links between IMO, the classification societies and the parts of the industry the classification societies are associated with, remain strong and that we work actively to maintain and reinforce them. In this context, your invitations for me to address IACS Council meetings are very much appreciated and certainly serves to strengthen these links further.

As I mentioned a moment ago, IACS contributes significantly to the detailed work of many of the Organization’s technical committees and sub-committees. One of the most important and certainly ground-breaking of these has been the development of goal-based ship (GBS) construction standards. With their successful finalization and adoption by the Maritime Safety Committee, IMO has entered new territory by setting, for the first time, comprehensive mandatory requirements for the construction of ships, thereby expanding the already-existing SOLAS and Load Line provisions which require compliance with appropriate structural standards of classification societies.

The role of classification societies, through IACS, in the development of these new Standards has been very important indeed.  From the outset, IACS has been heavily involved in the process of developing the goal-based standards; and the five-tier system finally agreed, consisting of goals, functional requirements, verification of conformity, rules and regulations for ship design and construction and industry practices and standards, is based on a proposal by IACS.  Furthermore, the active co-operation of IACS and your very helpful attitude during the trial application of the GBS verification process using the IACS Common Structural Rules was instrumental for the timely finalization of the GBS package.

I would, therefore, like to use this opportunity to again express my gratitude for the contribution of IACS to this important new safety initiative.  I very much hope that our close co-operation will continue during the next phase of developments:  the implementation of the GBS and, in particular, the conduct of the GBS verification audits.  While the Secretariat has started the necessary preparatory work, the progress made by IACS regarding the development of the Harmonized Structural Rules is a crucial factor in the timing of the implementation process and I appreciate very much the progress you are making in this regard.

May I also take this opportunity to mention the use of IACS Unified Requirements to prepare and issue relevant interpretations to IMO instruments. These cover a wide variety of issues related to SOLAS regulations and other IMO instruments dealing with subjects concerning bulk chemicals, fire test procedures, fire safety systems, safety of high-speed craft, bulk cargoes, life-saving appliances and means of access, to name just a few.
These interpretations have been proven to be a very useful tool for administrations and industry alike in cases where IMO requirements are not detailed enough or leave room for differing interpretations. This has long been recognized by the MSC, and I would, therefore, encourage you to continue this well-established practice by submitting newly developed or updated interpretations to the technical meetings of the Organization for consideration.

Ladies and gentlemen, passenger ship safety has traditionally been a high priority concern of IMO.  In this centenary year of the Titanic disaster, the subject was always going to be a focus for public interest in shipping. But the grounding and subsequent fatal capsize of the Costa Concordia, off the coast of Italy in January, has raised new challenges for IMO and for the shipping industry, challenges which need to be addressed urgently.
Earlier this month, the matter was considered by the MSC, after I included an additional item on passenger ship safety on the agenda of the Committee, to provide the opportunity to consider any issues arising from the accident.
I very much appreciated the IMO Members’ unanimous support for my various initiatives to ensure that the Organization takes appropriate and timely action in response to the loss of the Costa Concordia.
There was clearly pressure on the MSC to move forward constructively and in a timely manner with this issue, notwithstanding the fact that the formal marine casualty investigation has not yet been completed. Until it is completed, scope for concrete action is clearly limited. Nevertheless, I think the positive action taken by MSC at its 90th session shows the seriousness with which it is taking this matter.

In particular, the MSC identified a number of immediate measures of an operational nature in the wake of the accident and adopted a resolution, which invites Member States to recommend that passenger ship companies conduct a review of operational safety measures to ships flying their flags.  The MSC also adopted circulars recommending their early implementation and encouraging Member States and the passenger ship industry to ensure that their current safety standards and procedures are fully and effectively implemented.  The MSC further agreed an action plan for long-term work on passenger ship safety, which will be further updated at the Committee’s next meeting in November, pending the submission of the official casualty investigation report. 

What these actions clearly reinforce is that the cargo carried by the passenger ship and cruise industry is special – hundreds and thousands of people. The lives of thousands of people are in the hands of the ship's management, the captain and crew and the operating staff.  Safe passage is the main product of this industry – not comfort, entertainment and leisure.  Without safety, the industry will not survive, let alone sustain its growth.

Some 20 years ago, the ISM Code, adopted by IMO, represented a step-change in the establishment of a safety culture in shipping. I think the time has now come to debate, once again, how we can generate another step-change and the necessary momentum towards what I would call the establishment of a "secure safety envelope".  This will not be achieved only through legislative changes. We must generate a new impetus in the industry to go beyond compliance with regulations and explore industry-wide mechanisms to ensure a safety culture is embedded throughout all operations. I hope the cruise industry will take this opportunity and lead the way forward to rigorous application of a safety culture, because "safety" is their main product and not something that results simply as a by-product of regulation-compliance.

Ladies and gentlemen, I mentioned IACS’s laudable efforts in helping to develop the ground-breaking move towards goal-based standards for ship construction and design. IACS and its members also deserve great credit for all the work that you have put into the development of another set of ground-breaking measures – those designed to improve the energy efficiency of international shipping and thereby provide  the sector’s contribution to the global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Following much scrutiny and testing, the EEDI formula is now a robust tool, and I look forward to its being “brought to life” by all your members in the future. Indeed, I am greatly encouraged to see that this is already happening, with EEDI certification being sought by shipowners and awarded by classification societies significantly in advance of the regulations’ entry-into-force date of 1 January 2013.

Adopting the international technical standards to measure emission levels and reduce CO2 emission from ships over the coming decades was a landmark achievement of IMO and one in which all those who played a part should take great satisfaction. I have no doubt that these measures will make a significant contribution towards shipping’s quest for sustainability, something that is under a bright spotlight this year in the form of the Rio +20 conference, taking place next month.

Twenty years ago, the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio adopted Agenda 21, which included a set of recommendations related to shipping and the role of IMO.  IMO’s responses have been both multifaceted and robust – and this year, at Rio +20, IMO will be renewing its commitment to sustainable maritime development.

Together with other UN Agencies, IMO has contributed to publications such as ‘A blueprint for ocean and coastal sustainability’ and ‘Green economy in a blue world’.

At Rio, IMO will be hosting a side event, with the shipping industry, in which IACS will also be participating. Together, we will take the opportunity to highlight how, through its regulatory and technical co-operation work, IMO will play a critical role in creating the conditions in which shipping will be able to play its part in a future green economy.

Furthermore, IMO, in my view, also provides the ideal institutional framework for sustainable maritime development.
We belong to a generation that has grown familiar with the image of our planet as seen from space; an image that instantly conveys the message that ours is a blue planet. And if our planet is to sustain “blue growth”, such growth must be coordinated, integrated and inclusive. I strongly believe that establishing a sustainable maritime transportation sector is essential to the development and growth of the world's economy as we move forward.  I am greatly looking forward to Rio +20 and I am sure that IMO’s participation, together with the shipping industry, will make a significant contribution towards the its overall success.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I could not conclude these remarks without mentioning something that I know is of considerable interest to IACS and its members – the Code for Recognized Organizations. Just to recap, the draft Code for Recognized Organizations (ROs) and related draft treaty amendments to make it mandatory have been prepared by IMO’s Committee on Flag State Implementation, for submission to the MEPC and the MSC for approval.
The draft amendments proposed would make the Code mandatory under SOLAS, the Load Lines Protocol 1988 and MARPOL (Annexes I and II).

The Code will provide a consolidated text containing criteria against which recognized organizations are assessed and authorized or recognized, and give guidance for subsequent monitoring of ROs by Administrations.
Once again, I wish to express my appreciation for the help IACS has given in drafting the Code.
I believe that, with your help, we have now developed a good document, ready for approval, which will help both to improve standards and increase transparency, and provide an even stronger basis and framework of the work of classification societies within the maritime community.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me once again thank you for inviting me to attend this meeting, which I am sure will be both instructive and constructive. And I look forward very much to the fruitful collaboration between IACS and IMO continuing long into the future.
Thank you.