Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction (SDC 7), 3-7 February 2020 (opening address)


(3 to 7 February 2020)

Good morning, distinguished delegates,

It is a pleasure for me to welcome you to the seventh session of the Sub‑Committee on Ship Design and Construction. I particularly welcome those delegates who may be attending this Sub‑Committee for the first time.

We are still in early 2020 and I would like to take this opportunity to look back and to honour the achievements of this Organization, made possible by your hard work and that of all Member States and observer organizations who have contributed to the committee, sub-committee and experts meetings that took place in 2019, paving the way for new and amended regulations and recommendations to enhance maritime safety, security and the protection of the marine environment.

As always, I urge you to be proactive and to deliver on the key issues, not only during this session of your Sub-Committee but throughout the year and beyond, fulfilling the expectations and objectives set for the Organization and creating and sustaining an even safer, more secure, more environmentally friendly and more efficient maritime sector.

Before addressing the work of your Sub-Committee, I must mention matters related to the Novel Coronavirus. In this regard, I have just released Circular letters No.4203 and No.4204, which can be downloaded from IMODOCS. The newly released circulars provide important information and guidance for delegates and seafarers, based on recommendations developed by the World Health Organization, on the precautions to be taken to minimize risks from the Novel Coronavirus. In addition, I wish to advise delegates that posters have been placed throughout the building along with dispensers for hand sanitizer. We must all do our part to prevent the spread of this dangerous virus and your cooperation in this regard is essential.

Distinguished delegates,

I would like to take this opportunity to say a few words about this year's World Maritime theme, which is "Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet". This theme is intended to raise awareness of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, the SDGs, and showcase the work that IMO is undertaking to achieve the targets set by the SDGs.

The year 2020 will mark the beginning of a decade of action and delivery for the SDGs, not only for shipping but for the global community as a whole.

The shipping industry, supported by the IMO regulatory framework, has already started the transition towards a sustainable future through the adoption and continuous development of measures to address very important issues, such as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the lower sulphur content of ships' fuel oil, the protection of the polar regions and the wider participation of women in the maritime community.

I would like to remind you that the World Maritime Day will be celebrated at IMO Headquarters on 24 September, and the annual parallel event will be organized by the Government of South Africa, in Durban, from 28 to 30 October.

A milestone achievement of the Organization, to which your Sub-Committee substantially contributed, was the adoption of the 2012 Cape Town Agreement, the internationally-binding instrument aimed at facilitating better control of fishing vessel safety by flag, port and coastal States.

The entry-into-force conditions for the Agreement are not yet fulfilled and, to speed up the process of ratification, IMO, together with the Government of Spain and the support of FAO and the Pew Charitable Trusts organized a Ministerial Conference on Fishing Vessel Safety and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing, which was held in Torremolinos, Spain in October last year.

During the Conference, 48 States signed the Torremolinos Declaration, publicly indicating their determination to ratify the Agreement by the tenth anniversary of its adoption, that is 11 October 2022. I urge States that have not yet signed the Declaration to do so at the earliest opportunity, as it will remain open for signature until October of this year.

Similarly to last year, I would like to take this opportunity to commemorate those naval architects and scientists that have shaped our modern understanding of a ship's behaviour at sea, including hydrodynamics and stability, and who have propelled modern ship design.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Aleksey Krylov's death, the great Russian naval architect who won fame with his theory of oscillating motions of the ship, building upon William Froude's rolling theory. He carried out ground-breaking research work on ship floodability. His legacy is part of our work today, especially by those of you who have been involved in the work of the second generation intact stability criteria.

Distinguished delegates,

Turning now to the items on your agenda this week, I would like to highlight some of the key technical issues you will be considering.

I urge you to complete the work on the Interim Guidelines for second generation intact stability criteria after more than 20 years of hard work.

I understand that there are concerns and doubts as to whether or not the draft in front of you addresses all situations and all types of ships that assumptions had to be made which may not reflect the level of detail that some of you may wish to see. However, for the time being, there is no IMO instrument addressing ship stability in waves for the five dynamic stability failure modes. I understand that this will be the last opportunity to complete this output, do not let two decades of hard work end with no results and get the Interim Guidelines out for trial use.

This session also offers the opportunity to finalize the work on the new draft SOLAS chapter XV and the draft International Code of Safety for Ships Carrying Industrial Personnel, the IP Code. Significant progress has been made on these draft instruments, the completion of which is paramount as the maritime offshore and energy sectors are expanding and have created a growing demand for industrial personnel to be safely carried and transferred from ships to other ships and/or offshore facilities. Their safety has been of utmost concern to this Organization and the industry and has driven the development of the IP Code. 

Following our agreed four-year cycle of SOLAS amendments, I am confident that ships carrying industrial personnel will have to comply with a new SOLAS chapter and the IP Code on 1 January 2024.

Finally, let me commend you also on the progress made on what was previously called the second phase of the Polar Code, focusing on ships not governed by the SOLAS Convention, for example fishing vessels and pleasure yachts. Vessel traffic in the Arctic and Antarctic is set to increase enormously in coming years and consequently the number of these vessels operating in polar waters will rise significantly.

Therefore, the guidelines you are currently developing for those types of vessels will help enhancing safety, particularly of fishing vessels which do not have acceptable safety standards, when compared to passenger and cargo ships.

I addressed the NCSR Sub-Committee, with whom you share responsibility for this agenda item, three weeks ago and reminded delegates that the Assembly, at its last session adopted Interim safety measures for ships not certified under the SOLAS Convention operating in polar waters by resolution A.1137(31). This resolution urges Member States to implement, on a voluntary basis, the safety measures of the Polar Code, as far as practicable, for non-SOLAS ships operating in the Arctic and Antarctic, including fishing vessels of 24 metres in length and over and pleasure yachts of 300 gross tonnage and above not engaged in trade.

Distinguished delegates,

I am confident that you will tackle the tasks before you successfully as usual, inspired by the customary IMO spirit of cooperation and under the capable leadership of your trusted Chair, Mr. Kevin Hunter of the United Kingdom. I am sure that, ably supported by the Vice-Chair and the staff of the Secretariat as always, you will make sound, balanced and timely decisions and I extend best wishes to all of you for every success in your deliberations.

Finally, as is customary, all of you are cordially invited to a cocktail reception hosted by me in the Delegates' Lounge this evening after the closure of today's session.

Thank you.