Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), 96th session, 11-20 May 2016 (opening address)


Good morning, Excellencies, distinguished delegates and observers. 

Welcome to the ninety-sixth session of the Maritime Safety Committee.


Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

Since this is the first of two MSC meetings to be held this year and the first time I address the Committee in my capacity as Secretary-General, allow me please, to remind you of my vision, which is “A voyage together”.

Since IMO’s establishment in 1959, the volume of world trade has increased by over 300 times. I believe that the dedicated work of IMO has greatly contributed to the achievement and development so far.

IMO’s core goals, as stipulated in the IMO Convention, can only be achieved when all Member States join together to implement IMO standards properly. To this end, I want to act as a bridge among Member States to ensure better communication and mutual understanding. While continuing with IMO’s vital and necessary function of rule-making, I will ensure that the utmost focus is placed on improving implementation at a global level.

To this end, I believe it is necessary to enhance capacity building activities for Less Developed Countries and SILD countries, so that no one is left behind.

This will be based on an efficient and productive Secretariat, where we continually explore ways to work smarter.

I also wish to raise IMO’s profile around the world, promoting the Organization as the single, global body for maritime policy and regulation. This will also lead to increased focus on the importance of the shipping industry.


Distinguished Delegates,

As you are well aware, today, over 80% of world trade is carried by shipping. Without shipping, importing and exporting goods on the scale necessary to sustain the modern world would simply not be possible.

There are more than 50,000 merchant ships trading internationally, transporting every kind of cargo. The world fleet is registered in over 150 nations and manned by more than a million seafarers of virtually every nationality.

As I am sure some of you know, the United Nations Secretary-General visited IMO Headquarters just about two months ago. When he addressed delegates and IMO staff here he – among other things – said, and I quote:

"Every country relies, to some degree, on selling what it produces and acquiring what it lacks.  Shipping connects buyers and sellers across the world. It transports the commodities, fuel, food, goods and products on which we all depend. Shipping is indispensable." End quote.

In recognition of the importance of shipping for world trade, the IMO Council has decided that the Theme of the World Maritime Day 2016 should be "Shipping: Indispensable to the world".

This year's theme was chosen to focus on the critical link between shipping and global society and to raise awareness of the relevance of the role of IMO as the global regulatory body for international shipping. The importance of shipping to support and sustain today's global society gives IMO's work a significance that reaches far beyond the industry itself.

This year, World Maritime Day will be celebrated at IMO Headquarters on Thursday 29 September, and the annual parallel event will be held in Turkey in November. We plan to promote these activities widely, and encourage our IMO Maritime Ambassadors to spread the theme. Other events and activities will be held throughout the year, and I would request that you organize your own events around the theme – and tell us about them – so we can, together, raise a real groundswell of understanding and appreciation for shipping.

 Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Delegates,

I’d like to highlight, some key issues amongst the various agenda items of MSC 96. As regards to the important matter of implementation of the goal-based standards for new ship construction of bulk carriers and oil tankers, the five teams of independent experts have completed the audits of the rules of the 12 IACS members, all of which had submitted their rules for verification. Accordingly, you will consider the reports of these audits along with action plans that have been submitted by IACS and its Members to address all the findings of the auditors. In this context, I would like to emphasize that this was an audit exercise, which is to be seen as a new and ground-breaking element of the ongoing rule development process that is undertaken by these Recognized Organizations. The completion of this initial verification process now provides a genuine link between the classification and statutory processes and this is a significant development in the IMO rule making process.  I wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to all involved, i.e. Member States, Class Societies, Auditors and Secretariat, for the professionalism and commitment they have demonstrated in this pioneering project and completing the work before the SOLAS amendments become applicable on 1 July this year.

With regards to the carriage of more than 12 industrial personnel on board vessels engaged on international voyages, there is an urgent need to ensure the safe and efficient transfer of technicians serving and servicing installations in the growing offshore alternative energy sectors.  Therefore, it is of utmost importance that this issue, is dealt with in an efficient and urgent manner.   

Turning to maritime security and related matters, your Committee will continue its work on progressing the important and timely issue of protecting the maritime transport network from cyber threats as well as receiving updates on piracy and armed robbery against ships, and unsafe mixed migration by sea.

I would also take this opportunity to emphasize the importance of analysing statistics related to maritime casualties and incidents, caused by various factors.  On this occasion, I would like to refer to the recommendations recently made by the Experts Group on Formal Safety Assessment that more specific casualty information should be uploaded by Member Governments onto GISIS as per the Casualty Investigation Code to enhance quality, relevance and transparency of the available casualty data, for the purpose of carrying out FSA studies and further analysis and use of such casualty data.  To this end, I feel that it is appropriate that the Organization deals proactively with safety issues, based on the analysis of maritime casualties and incidents statistics.

Your Committee will also consider the reports of seven Sub-Committees that have met since your last meeting. These Sub-Committees have worked in accordance with your instructions and the results of their deliberations are the outcome of their hard work. To this end, I would like to convey my appreciation to all the delegates who attend these meetings.  Furthermore, you have many more important issues before you this week, such as the Amendments to mandatory instruments; Formal safety assessment, including general cargo ship safety, and Passenger ship safety

It remains for me to give my best wishes to your Chairman, Mr. Brad Groves of Australia, for the task ahead in tackling the agenda of this session and finding the appropriate balance between competing demands so that the Committee may reach the best and most widely acceptable outcomes. 

The Secretariat, including A. Mahapatra, Director of MSD and staff, will discharge our duties and responsibilities in supporting both the Chairman and the work of the meeting to the best of our abilities.

With this, I wish you every success in your deliberations and look forward to welcoming you all at the customary drinks reception after close of business today.

Thank you.