Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction (SDC), 1st session (closing remarks)

This text is an ad verbatim transcript.

(20 to 24 January 2014)

We have almost reached the conclusion of the first session of the SDC Sub-Committee – the first meeting of the restructured sub-committees in the commemorative year of SOLAS 100.
In my view, the meeting was really successful and the main achievements include clarifying the issues on the carriage of more than twelve industrial personnel and the set targets for this urgent issue; and you have established a step forward towards the second generation of intact sustainability criteria; the preparation of a set of amendments to SOLAS dealing with the safe return to port for passenger ships; and also your achievements on the draft text of SOLAS amendments and MARPOL amendments and draft text of the polar code are a milestone achievement and I am looking forward to the discussion at the Committees with a view to adoption of the polar code in this commemorative year of SOLAS 100.
What can characterize this meeting? In my view, it has been hard working, forward looking, cooperative, efficient and productive, while respecting the work methods currently in force. Your deliberations will be a good model to be followed by other sub-committees. You have set a high standard for the other sub-committees. The success of this session is due to the sense of cooperation of everybody. The IMO spirit of cooperation prevailed, maintaining firmly the basic framework of our work method in the committees’ guidelines within the allowable flexibility as required for making progress particularly as an exceptional measure for this very first session of your Sub-Committee based on a spirit of cooperation.
The efficient conduct of the plenary meeting by Madame Chairman is noteworthy. Your determination to make progress was really remarkable. Your accumulated knowledge on how IMO committees work and the mechanism of IMO committees, in my view, allowed you to ensure the super-efficient conduct of the meeting with patience and real confidence in taking decisions.
My thanks also go to Mrs. Stemre of Norway. At IMO, when we finalize technical work of any major instrument such as the High-Speed Craft Code, the ISPS Code, the Ballast Water Management Convention, MARPOL’s new annex for air pollution, many sets of SOLAS and MARPOL amendments, we always recognize the person who put everything – energy, time, devotion, and leadership – into preparing the best possible text as an accumulated effort of all involved. Turid is certainly the one for the polar code, I thank her for her tremendous contribution and, in my view, her name will be associated with the polar code forever.
Of course, my thanks also go to Messrs. Person and Eareckson of the United States, Messrs. Altmayer and Assheuer of Germany and Mr. Wilkins of the United Kingdom. I also cannot forget my appreciation for the staff in the Maritime Safety Division, the Marine Environment Division and the Conference Division. We recognize that Jack Westwood-Booth stepped in when your Sub-Committee Secretary had some problem and I hope for her speedy recovery, but I thank you Jack for stepping in and supporting this Sub-Committee.
So this is the end of your first Sub-Committee meeting. I do not want to prolong it but, taking into account that this is the first week of IMO’s meeting schedule, as I mentioned before, this year is an important year for implementation.
Our theme is “IMO conventions: effective implementation” and, in this context, I just want to mention two things. First of all, in respect to the Ballast Water Management Convention, I am writing letters to those in influential and leading maritime nations, in particular Members of the Council, to take decisive action to ratify the Convention as soon as possible so that they can show their leadership in the activities of IMO. It is obvious that it is only a matter of time for the BWM Convention to come into force. But in order to make use of the Assembly resolution we have just adopted last year, the Convention should come into force before the major process of retroactive application to existing ships starts in 2016. This could only be ensured if the conditions for entry into force are met this year.
The remaining period is getting shorter and shorter. We have only 11 months now. I would encourage all Member Governments to redouble their efforts to ratify the BWM Convention this year so that the Convention could come into force taking the ample benefit of the Assembly resolution which significantly relaxed the application dates and eased the burden of shipowners to meet the Convention requirements. The remaining tonnage to allow the Convention to come into force is just around 5% - a small tonnage, but large enough for most IMO Member Governments to achieve in one single action. We need their accumulated effort and I am sure in time we can achieve this anyway. We should do this to ensure the benefit of the Assembly resolution. Timing is now important for this issue. There are a certain number of Member Governments with large registered tonnage which can demonstrate their leadership by taking their own action to bring the Convention into force. I think this is an opportunity, in particular for Council Members of IMO to demonstrate their responsibility and their leadership to achieve this and activate this important Convention for the benefit of the environment and for the wider international maritime community.
Another instrument is the Cape Town Agreement. The simplified procedure for acceptance for Torremolinos Protocol parties will be expiring very soon. If we do not use this mechanism then what was the point of us working hard to develop something useful but never enabling it to be utilized? I would like to once again encourage the Torremolinos Protocol parties to take action to accept the Cape Town Agreement through the simplified procedure before 11 February this year. The remaining days are getting shorter and shorter and I would like to ask every country for further effort to ratify the Cape Town Agreement as soon as possible. I am sorry to raise this important issue towards the end of the Sub-Committee. I understand it is a heavy request.
My last word is it is not related to implementation. This week I mentioned that we are in a period of transition in many ways and the older generation will be replaced by the younger generation; and I see now many new faces, young delegates actively participating in this meeting. But we must always recognize and remember and keep in our minds where we came from. We must learn from our grandfathers. It is my great pleasure to mention and observe participation by one of the most senior and elder participants, in my view, the eldest member of the IMO family.
Of course, I am talking about Prof. Kobyliński, who belongs to my father’s generation, and he came to this Organization as a member of the Secretariat, 38 years ago. He joined the IMO Secretariat in 1976; at that time he was already a matured professional and, after retirement, he continued to attend this meeting and other meetings, not only sub-committees but the Council, Assembly and committees. As far as I see from here, he is really fit and attended IMO meetings very actively. I thank the Polish delegation for maintaining him within the Polish delegation and I thank Prof. Kobyliński for coming to attend IMO meetings. I am really looking forward to seeing you many, many more times returning to our meetings.
With this, distinguished delegates and Madam Chairman, I think I should conclude my statement by saying that, in my view, the meeting was really successful. Now it is time to conclude the meeting and for those who are staying in London, have a nice weekend and for those who are returning back to your home, have a safe journey home.