Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), 93rd session, 14 to 23 May 2014 (closing remarks)


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 finalization of the draft amendments to SOLAS for a new chapter XIV to incorporate the safety measures for ships operating in polar waters for adoption at MSC 94. Equally significant is the progress achieved towards the finalization of the polar code. I am confident that we are on track to meet the target we had set ourselves to complete this planned output.
The passenger ship safety review following the receipt of the report of investigation of the Costa Concordia accident has also been an important safety issue at this session. The Committee has taken firm actions to set a clear direction towards a safety review over critical areas such as stability and survivability.
At the opening of the Committee, I raised the questions: what went wrong, what lessons we should learn and what measures we will establish. In response, you have established action programmes.
I appreciate your consideration of matters related to the survivability of passenger ships and invitation to the SDC Sub-Committee to continue the technical consideration of related matters. I also appreciate your consideration of matters related to damage stability and consequent instructions to the SDC and HTW Sub-Committees. Of course, I appreciate your consideration of matters related to SAR Cooperation Plans and your decision on the revised long-term action plan on passenger ship safety with the time line to be settled at MSC 94 and MSC 96. You have now set the survivability of passenger ships after flooding and damage stability as important issues in the passenger ship safety review and I am looking forward to further developments in the SDC and other sub-committees, in particular, in this very important field.
I would also like to commend the Committee for adopting amendments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention, as amended, including the FSS, LSA, IBC, IGC, IMDG and the 2011 ESP Codes; the 1978 STCW Convention, as amended, and the STCW Code; and the 1988 Load Lines Protocol.
You have achieved a number of important milestone decisions but, if I single out, you have adopted Guidance on drafting of amendments to SOLAS and related mandatory instruments (of course I am referring to MSC 93/WP.5/Add.1) and in my view this will probably become the most useful single document created by the Committee at this session for the work of the Committee in years to come. I will request the Publication Section to consider whether we can produce a pocket size handy booklet for this guidance for our daily work.
Mr. Chairman, the most significant act of the Maritime Safety Committee at this session was, in my view, that you have completed the entire legal framework for mandatory audit by adopting amendments to SOLAS and STCW and 1988 Load Lines Protocol. Under Article 2(d) of the IMO Convention, the function of IMO has been expanded to carry out mandatory audit. This is truly a significant event in the history of IMO and, in my view, this session of MSC should be remembered. We have come a very long way over the last two decades.
In November 1992, the Flag State Implementation (FSI) Sub-Committee was established under the initiative and leadership of then Secretary-General Mr. O’Neil. FSI developed the Flag State Performance Self-Assessment Form (SAF), which was approved as MSC/Circ.889/ MEPC/Circ.353 in 1998. The circular was changed to a resolution and adopted by the 21st Assembly in November 1999 as resolution A.881 on Self-Assessment of Flag State Performance.
A quantum leap came from Japan, in January 2002, when the Ministerial Conference on Transport – A New Challenge for Environmentally Friendly Transport was held in Tokyo, Japan under the initiative of Vice-Transport Minister of Japan, Mr. Hanyu. The conference adopted an action plan towards the IMO audit scheme following from which 18 Member States and one Associate Member submitted a proposal to C 88 in June 2002, proposing the establishment of an IMO Model Audit Scheme, similar to the ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme.
In 2002, at the 89th session of Council, Secretary-General O’Neil presented his study on the ICAO audit programme and the Council decided to proceed with the development of the IMO Audit Scheme. One year later, in November 2003, A 23 adopted the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme.
During the tenure of Mr. Mitropoulos, in November 2005, A 24, adopted resolution A.974 – Framework and Procedures for the Scheme and the voluntary audit commenced in September 2006. His signification action was his proposal for institutionalization. At C 100, in June 2008, then Secretary-General E.E. Mitropoulos suggested that the Scheme should be further developed as an institutionalized process. This led to the development of resolution A.1018, which was adopted by A 26 in November 2009.
Over the last two years, the regulatory framework for mandatory audits was developed and now completed, commencing with the adoption of the III Code and the revised Framework and Procedures for the Scheme, amendments to Load Lines, Tonnage, COLREG, MARPOL and SOLAS and the 1988 Load Lines Protocol and STCW Convention.
Having arrived at this stage, towards formal IMO audit; we should appreciate efforts, contributions, initiatives and cooperation of all IMO Member Governments and the leadership role played by the IMO Council and we should not forget the excellent support provided by the Department on Member State Audit and Implementation Support, headed by Lawrence Barchue.
However, we could not have come to today’s situation to have completed all legal framework, without the vision and leadership of Secretary-General O’Neil, Vice-Minister Hanyu of Japan and Secretary-General Mitropoulos and I appreciate all of them.
Turning to the next session of the Council, which will take place in three weeks’ time, it will address the issue of resources and other operational issues of a mandatory Scheme. Depending on the outcome of the discussions, I will ensure the human resource arrangement to be ready within the Secretariat well before 2016, and include the budget line for audit in the budget proposal for the coming biennium, 2016-2017, and also ensure the implementation of audit from the beginning of 2016.
Distinguished delegates, Mr. Chairman, having concluded my statement, it is customary at this stage of the meeting to pay tribute to delegates and observers who have left or are about to leave, for a variety of reasons. In saying our farewells, we thank them sincerely for their valuable contribution to the work of the Committee and IMO and wish them well.  I wish to mention, in particular, Mr. Ranjeet Singh of Singapore, Mr. Fer van de Laar of IAPH, Capt. C. Lindvall of IFSMA, Mr. David Tongue of ICS and Mr. Stan Deno of CLIA.
A number of long-serving IMO staff are also retiring or have retired or are returning home, and I would mention, in particular Mrs. Jane Thompson (OSG), Ms. F. Onumonu (MSD), Ms. C. Caceres (CD) and Ms. T. Zatsepina (CD).
Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for their loyalty and tremendous contributions provided, over the years, to the work of IMO and wish them all the best for their retirement and future endeavours.
Distinguished delegates,
In concluding, 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 Segar of Singapore, Mr. Groves of Australia, Ms. Stemre of Norway and Mr. Tsuchiya of the United Kingdom; and, of course, to the coordinators of the various correspondence groups that have reported to this session.
Mr. Chairman,

This has, again, been a very demanding session and I wish to pay a special tribute to you, for the diligent and confident way in which you have discharged your responsibilities, always in your quiet, patient and diplomatic manner, and also with a welcome sense of humour, yet with the steady determination of a strong leader, which has resulted in the very efficient use of your Committee’s time and achieving consensus in all of the Committee’s decisions, no matter how complex, difficult or sensitive the issues involved.
The excellent chairmanship of Christian Breinholt is something that I would like to highlight as a clear mark of this Organization.  We have seen and witnessed real efficiency in decision making.  It was only possible due to the efficient chairmanship of Christian and I praise him really highly for his contribution.  The Committee is working and functioning well in this efficient mode of operation.
Last but not least, I cannot forget to mention my appreciation of the tremendous efforts of all the staff in the Maritime Safety Division, led by Assistant Secretary-General, Mr. Winbow and those of our colleagues in the Conference Division led by Mrs. O’Neil – involving the Documents Control and Production Section, Meeting Services, the Translation Sections, and the Terminology and Reference Section.  And, of course, the interpreters, whose skills to facilitate our communicating effectively never cease to amaze.
With this, I wish to conclude my closing remarks by saying that, in my view, this was another productive 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; I wish my colleagues who are cycling this weekend in aid of the Mission to Seafarer good luck, and, all of you, I look forward to welcoming you back at IMO soon, and certainly at the next MSC session in November.
Thank you.