Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), 95th session, 3-12 June 2015 (closing remarks)

(12 June 2015)

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates and observers, as we are approaching the end of another, very busy and very fruitful MSC session, the most significant achievement for this session has been the adoption of IGF Code to help the industry to move towards cleaner energy consumption.

I would also like to commend the Committee for adopting the amendments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention and its Protocol, as amended, including the IMSBC Codes, and also the amendments to the 1978 STCW Convention and Code, and a long list of MSC circulars related to safety issues.

On the issue of mixed migration by sea, I am particularly grateful to the Committee for accepting my proposal to hold the special session and I am also grateful for your positive outcome to place a new item “Unsafe mixed migration by sea” on the agenda of your next session and even start working on some specific aspects at NCSR.

Distinguished delegates, I thank and congratulate all of you on your achievements and extend sincere thanks to the officers of the Committee’s subsidiary bodies; to the chairmen of the working and drafting groups established this week, namely, the Committee’s Vice-Chairman, Captain Abdullah Muhammad Segar of Singapore, Ms. Turid Stemre of Norway, Ms. Farrah Mohd Fadil of Singapore, Mr. Jaideep Sirkar of the United States and Mr. Henrik Tunfors of Sweden; and, of course, to the coordinators of the various correspondence groups that have reported to this session. 

Mr. Chairman, before I close my statement, I wish to thank those delegates for whom this has been their last MSC session and whose contributions to the work of the Committee and the Organization have been appreciated by all concerned.  I am sure you all join me in wishing them well for the future. 

I would like to particularly express my appreciation to Bin Okamura of Japan, on his retirement. After retirement from the IMO Secretariat in 1997, where he was my predecessor as the Senior Deputy-Director of MED, Mr Okamura has attended many IMO meetings as a part of the Japanese delegation and also chaired working groups. In this occasion of his last attendance at the IMO meeting, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mr Okamura for his life-long contribution to IMO. I wish him a long and happy retirement.

Also, my appreciation goes to Mr. Guangling Li of China, who has already returned back to his home country and Mr. Sylvain Lachance of Canada on his retirement. Mr. Lachance is a graduate of the Canadian Coast Guard College and has served both on board Canadian Vessels, as Master, and as the Director. Thereafter, he joined Transport Canada Marine Safety and Security as the Executive Director, Regulatory and International Affairs in 2009. I wish him a long and happy retirement.

My thanks also go to Dr. Leigh Mazany of Canada and Captain Mario Rubén Farinón of Argentina. Thank you for your contribution. I also cannot forget about Captain Charlie Piersall of ISO on his retirement after his services as TC 8 Chairman for over 20 years since 1993, if my memory serves me correctly. He is a retired US Navy Captain and has devoted his life to the work of TC 8 in supporting the activities of IMO and I thank him for his tremendous contribution in setting ISO standards covering various aspects of IMO instruments.

A number of long-serving IMO staff are also retiring or have retired or are returning home, and I would mention, in particular, Mr. Andrew Winbow, Mr. Carlos Ormaechea and Ms. Wilma Pereira of the Maritime Safety Division. I would also like to highlight that Mrs. Janet Tang of the Conference Division is retiring after more than 30 years of service.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to say a few words about Andy Winbow. Andy, you know the mechanism of IMO inside out. He is hardworking and his work is always meticulous, and in my view he has the power of analysis over very complicated matters and the creative ability to bring forward solutions to very complicated issues. He has the diplomatic skills supported by his acute sense of understanding of political elements involved in technical issues. His ability must have accumulated not only from his service in the Secretariat and in the UK Government but also, I believe, from his long experience at sea, handling real issues that require a real sense of duty, responsibility and leadership. If anyone has a ship and entrusts that ship to Andy, you are safe. From that point of view, I was particularly lucky to have Andy as Director of the Maritime Safety Division. Andy, I thank you very much and I wish you all the best for your retirement. 

Mr. Chairman, this has, again, been a very demanding session and once again, you have been successful in leading the Committee diligently and confidently to achieve consensus in all its decisions, with your patience and diplomatic skills, as well as your determined leadership, to secure the resolution of many complex, difficult or sensitive issues, to the satisfaction of all concerned.  We have also seen and witnessed real efficiency in the decision making process.  It was only possible due to your chairmanship and for this I praise you. As this is your last session as the Committee’s Chairman, I wish to pay a special tribute to you, Christian, for the impeccable manner in which you have discharged your responsibilities in the last four years. During the four years, you have handled and secured the success of many important issues, for example, the Costa Concordia response; anti-piracy measures with the High-Level Segment of MSC in 2012; the adoption of the Cape Town Agreement; the adoption of amendments to SOLAS and other conventions to establish the mandatory scheme of IMO Member State Audit and also the adoption of the Polar Code. Without your leadership, Christian, the Committee and IMO could not have secured such excellent achievements and I thank you for this. 

I would also like to pay tribute to Vice-Chairman Captain Segar for offering his services in the smooth and efficient running of the Committee. As a result, the Committee has been working and functioning well in an efficient mode of operation and I thank you for your leadership and contributions.

We also congratulate and welcome Mr. Brad Groves of Australia and Mr. Juan Cubisino of Argentina into their new positions as MSC Chairman and Vice-chairman for next year. You may feel you have large shoes to fill, but, I am confident that the spirit of cooperation will prevail and the Committee will continue to deliver what the industry and the maritime community would expect from us while meeting future challenges under your leadership. I am sure that Committee will appreciate new leadership.

Last but not least, I cannot forget to mention my appreciation of the tremendous efforts of all the staff in the Maritime Safety Division, those of our colleagues in the Conference Division, and, of course, the interpreters, whose skills to facilitate our communicating effectively never cease to amaze.

With this, I wish to conclude my closing statement by saying that, in my view, this was an exceptional meeting with many outcomes to be proud of.  Now it is time to put the work aside and take a well-deserved rest.  Those who are staying in London I wish a nice weekend; those who are returning home I wish a safe journey and I am sure that my successor will look forward to welcoming you back at the next MSC session in May next year.

Thank you.