CLOSING REMARKS OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
AT THE 98TH SESSION OF THE MARITIME SAFETY COMMITTEE (16 June 2017)
Mr. Chair, distinguished delegates and observers,
As we are approaching the end of another busy and fruitful Maritime Safety Committee session, your hard work and the decisions made over these eight days should be recognized with high appreciation. In the interest of time, I will only mention a few matters.
Firstly, with regard to the Goal-based standards verification scheme, your Committee confirmed that the non-conformities identified by MSC 96 had been rectified and that the whole process of the initial verification audit had been successfully completed. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all Member States and auditors and all IACS Classification Societies involved for the high level of cooperation for bringing the initial verification to a successful conclusion. The Committee progressed amendments to the Goal-based Standards Verification Guidelines. You also updated the timetable and schedule of activities for the implementation of the Goal-based Standards verification scheme, including the maintenance of verification.
Secondly, concerning Maritime Security, you have adopted MSC resolution on Maritime cyber risk management in Safety Management Systems. You have approved an MSC circular on Reporting of incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Gulf of Guinea. You have also progressed on model courses related to security. I do appreciate your effort at this session, in spite of the complexity of the issue.
I would like to commend the Committee for adopting the amendments to the SOLAS Convention and its mandatory codes, including the IGF, HSC, LSA and IMSBC Codes. In this connection, your Committee approved the Guidelines on the voluntary early implementation of amendments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention and related mandatory instruments, and agreed the text that should be introduced in the Procedures for Port State Control, 2011.
In relation to the outcomes of various sub-committees, the Committee, as usual, adopted or approved many resolutions, draft amendments to mandatory instruments, together with numerous circulars. All this has been possible due to technical considerations and deliberations by various sub-committees. I commend them for their hard work and professionalism.
Last but not least, I appreciate that you have agreed to a new output on Regulatory scoping exercise for the use of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships. I believe that IMO should be proactive and take the lead on this important issue. Of course, the human element is to be carefully taken into account when considering this item.
In concluding, I thank you all and, in particular, the Committee’s Chair Mr. Brad Groves of Australia. This has been a very demanding session, but Mr. Chair, you have been successful once again 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, you have secured the resolution of many complex, difficult and sensitive issues, to the satisfaction of all concerned.
I would also like to thank the Vice-Chair, Mr. Juan Cubisino of Argentina, who supported the Chair for the smooth conduct of the meeting.
I thank and congratulate all of you on your achievements and extend sincere thanks to the officers of the Committee’s subsidiary bodies, in particular the chairs and vice-chairs of the sub-committees. With such technical inputs by the sub-committees, the outcomes of MSC are meaningful. I also wish to express my sincere thanks to the chairs of the various groups convened during this session to support the Committee’s work, namely, Mr. Jaideep Sirkar of the United States, Mr. Nicki Boldt of Germany, Ms. Farrah Mohd Fadil of Singapore and Mr. Henrik Tunfors of Sweden. And, of course, thanks to the coordinators of the various correspondence groups that have reported to this session. Also, I would like to thank all the Member States for the valuable presentations, full of information.
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.
A number of long-serving IMO staff are also retiring or have retired or are returning home, and I would mention, in particular, Mr. Ashok Mahapatra and Mr. Milhar Fuazudeen of the Maritime Safety Division. I would also like to mention that Mrs. Beatrice Ayettey of the Department for Member State Audit and Implementation Support who used to work in Maritime Safety Division, and Mr. Youqiang Li, Director of the Conference Division, are also retiring at the end of this year.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to say a few words about Ashok Mahapatra. During his long service to the Organization, Ashok has come to know the mechanism of IMO inside out. His diligence and attention to detail are renowned. Ashok also has the diplomatic skills to balance the technical and political elements of IMO work, thus helping and steering the Chairs of his Sub-Committees, and ultimately this Committee to achieve good results. All these talents have been developed over a long period of service not only to the Secretariat but also in his earlier career - both as a Master Mariner and as the chief examiner for the Indian merchant marine. His experience at sea laid a firm foundation for his ability to handle issues that require a real sense of duty, responsibility and leadership. Therefore, I have been lucky to have Ashok as Director of the Maritime Safety Division, particularly for my early years as the Secretary-General.
I also commend Mr. Milhar Fuazudeen, who has worked with Ashok for a long time, both supporting the development of robust and relevant training regimes for the world’s shipping. Ashok was a captain and Milhar was a chief engineer. What a team! Milhar has contributed, in particular, to seafarers training matters and human element issues.
I thank you all who are retiring, and I wish you all the best for your retirement.
Last but not least, I cannot forget to mention my appreciation to all staff in the Maritime Safety Division for their tremendous efforts and dedication. I also thank all staff in the Conference Division, including the Translation and Document sections, as well as the interpreters. I would also like to thank all the staff in the Legal and External Relations Division and in the Marine Environment Division for their support to this meeting. All of them often work very long hours and, together with many officers from other Divisions, serve your meetings tirelessly and with high quality support services. I would like to take this opportunity to emphasize again the importance of sea safety. Without ensuring safety of ships at sea, we would not be able to prevent a disastrous damage to human beings and the marine environment. The Maritime Safety Committee is the main decision body which takes care of all maritime safety issues.
All of you present here deserve all the compliments and commending for your devoted contribution. Also taking into consideration that on the 25th of June we will be celebrating the Day of the Seafarer, I would like to convey my sincere thanks to all seafarers working at sea at present for their hard work and dedication to the safety of navigation, complying with all relevant IMO conventions and regulations.
With this, I wish to conclude my closing statement by saying that, in my view, this has been another successful meeting with many outcomes to be proud of. Now it is time to put the work aside and take a well-deserved rest. To those who are staying in London I wish you a pleasant weekend and to those who are returning home, I wish you a safe journey and look forward to seeing you again next year.