Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), 99th session 16-25 May 2018 (closing remarks)


Mr. Chair, distinguished delegates and observers,

As we are approaching the end of another busy and fruitful Maritime Safety Committee session, the achievements over these eight meeting days should be recognized with high appreciation. In the interest of time, I will only mention a few of them:

• you commenced the work on the regulatory scoping exercise for the use of maritime autonomous surface ships, looking at how safe, secure and environmentally sound MASS operations may be addressed in IMO instruments; in this regard, you have agreed on a preliminary framework for the exercise and a plan of work for upcoming sessions, which was a milestone of innovation for future work;

• with regard to the verification scheme for goal-based ship construction standards, your Committee has incorporated the experience gained and lessons learned during the initial verification audits in the Revised Goal-based Verification Guidelines and progressed the work on the Interim guidelines on the GBS safety level approach;

• you have also progressed, during very intensive discussions, the issue of how the Polar Code provisions might be applied in the future to non-SOLAS vessels operating in polar waters, including small cargo ships, fishing vessels and pleasure yachts;

• you adopted amendments to the SOLAS Convention and a substantive number of codes, including the mandatory 2010 FTP, 1994 and 2000 HSC, IBC, IGC, IMDG and 2008 IS Codes; and the non-mandatory BHC, EGC, GC and 2008 SPS Codes.

• you approved a new maritime satellite service provider: Iridium

All these achievements would have not been possible without the devotion and spirit of cooperation from you all, the delegates, and I am grateful for your continue collaboration and support to the work of the Organization.


Mr. Chair, as MSC 99 draws to an end, I thank you all and, in particular, the Committee’s Chair, Mr. Brad Groves of Australia. This has again been a very demanding session, but, Mr. Chair, you have been successful in leading the Committee diligently and confidently to achieve consensus in all its decisions.  It never ceases to amaze me and I am sure everyone in this house to observe you at work – undeterred by complex technical issues or by diverging views and opinions, always giving everybody a fair hearing, passionately committed to finding common ground and building consensus. I would also like to thank the Vice-Chair, Mr. Juan Cubisino of Argentina, for his input and valuable support in the smooth conduct of the meeting.


I also extend sincere thanks to the officers of the Committee’s subsidiary bodies, in particular the chairs and vice-chairs of the sub-committees. In my view, the technical inputs of the six sub-committees reporting to you form the backbone of the work of the Committee. I also wish to express my sincere thanks to the chairs of the various groups convened during this session, namely, Mr. Nicki Boldt of Germany, Ms. Sanna Sonninen of Finland, Mr. Henrik Tunfors of Sweden and Mr. Jaideep Sirkar of the United States.


Distinguished delegates,

This is also an opportune moment to thank those delegates and experts who are leaving us for their contributions to the work of the Committee and of the Organization and to wish them all the best for the future. I would single out:

• John Akhurst of the Bahamas Maritime Authority known for his calm, succinct and constructive interventions, based on his many years of experience in the shipping sector and his vast knowledge;
• Capt. Nigel Campbell of South Africa who was instrumental in the work of the Committee regarding the safety of fishermen’s life and fishing vessels;
• Ari Gudmundsson of the FAO who actively participated in the work of IMO, initially on behalf of Iceland and since 2004 representing FAO;
• Peter Hinchliffe, the Secretary-General of ICS, who has been one of the strongest proponents of IMO's role as the global regulatory body for shipping; and
• David Howard who successfully served as the IMO consultant/ observer for the past nine years under the the IACS Quality System Certification Scheme; and

• on a more sombre note, I would like to acknowledge the contribution of Paul Devlin of Fulcrum Maritime Systems, who recently passed away, to the work of the Organization. He was very well known in the LRIT group of experts and active from the early days of industry setting up the LRIT system.


I wish to pay a special tribute to all the staff of the Maritime Safety Division for their tremendous efforts and dedication in the preparation of this session and throughout this week under the leadership of their Director, Ms. Heike Deggim. I also commend the commitment and collaboration of all the staff of the Conference Division, including the colleagues in the Documents and Conference Sections, as well as the translators. 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 also wish to say a special thank you to the interpreters, whose skills in facilitating our communication never cease to amaze.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to two special events taking place at IMO Headquarters next month. The first is the Special Port Event on Monday 11 June, with focus on facilitation. The second, on 12 and 13 June, is a port security focused event organized in cooperation with the International Association of Airport and Sea Port Police. This is the first time that the Secretariat has organized these type of events with regard to facilitation and port security matters, recognizing that the ports and the shipping sector need to work closer together, and to promote facilitation of international maritime traffic.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the International Association of Ports and Harbour and all the ports industry for their constructive cooperation.


Now it is time for you to put the work aside and take a well-deserved rest, while we begin to look forward to the special occasion which will be the 100th session of your Committee, marking the success story that is this Organization’s work to ensure the safety of life at sea! MSC has made a great deal of achievements for the past sixty years and the one-hundredth session of this Committee will be meaningful for many reasons.  

It now remains for me to wish you all a nice weekend – and to those who have to travel home, a safe journey.  

Thank you.