Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE), 3rd session, 14-18 March (opening address)

(14 to 18 March 2016)

Good morning, distinguished delegates,

I am very pleased to welcome you all to the third session of the Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment. As you are aware, this is the first session of the SSE Sub-Committee during my tenure as Secretary-General, but as this is the fifth sub-committee meeting this year, I am becoming accustomed to welcoming you to IMO.

I am very fortunate to be supported by the very competent staff of the Secretariat, and in terms of SSE 3, my special recognition goes in advance to Mr. Ashok Mahapatra, the Director of the Maritime Safety Division and his staff for all their good work in preparing for this meeting. Indeed, the support of the whole IMO family is needed to ensure success and that we together achieve our common goals.


As I am sure some of you know, the UN Secretary-General visited IMO Headquarters at the beginning of February while he was in London. When he addressed delegates and the IMO staff here in this hall, he – among other things – said, and I quote:

"Every country relies, to some degree, on selling what it produces and acquiring what it lacks.  Shipping connects buyers and sellers across the world.  It transports the commodities, fuel, food, goods and products on which we all depend.  Shipping is indispensable." End quote.

Shipping and international trade have always grown hand in-hand.  Shipping – as the only truly cost-effective, energy-efficient and sustainable means of transporting goods and commodities in bulk – has become truly indispensable to the world. That is why what we do here is so important.

I hope that the UN Secretary-General’s recognition of international shipping’s importance to the world, will spread beyond the IMO family. That is certainly something I want to achieve. International shipping is a part of a larger system, and therefore we need to engage with our partners in the ports sector and beyond to be able to really respond to global needs..  


Distinguished delegates, promoting safety in shipping was IMO’s original mandate and it remains a central pillar of the Organization’s reason for existence today.

The well-documented steadily downward trend in maritime casualties over several decades confirms that, together, IMO and the industry have been successful in achieving this objective – although recent casualties such as the groundings of the bulk carrier New Katerina in the Suez Canal and the containership APL Vanda off the UK coast remind us that we cannot be complacent and we must never consider this work to be completed.

There will always be ways we can improve.

Whenever the causes of maritime casualties are analysed, “human error” always comes high on the list. Some even suggest as many as 80 per cent of casualties can be traced back to human error – and, of course, we address this by setting standards for training, for operational practices and for management practices, such as the ISM Code.

But this is the 21st century and, more than ever, humans rely on technology in all walks of life. Shipping is no exception. Modern technology provides unprecedented opportunities to reduce the chances of human error and, thereby, help enhance maritime safety, reduce casualties still further and reduce the negative consequences of casualties on human life and the environment.

This sub-committee, with its focus on ship systems and equipment, is uniquely placed to take a strong lead in ensuring that cutting-edge technology and the very latest equipment are effectively integrated into every-day ship operations, and that the potential benefits they offer are harnessed to our collective advantage. That is why this sub-committee is so important; and I urge you, in your work this week and in the future, always to be driven by the knowledge that ship systems and equipment are essential components of safety at sea.

This is part of our overall aim to reduce casualties, and when these cannot be avoided, ensure that sufficient safeguards are in place to minimize the damages caused by casualties.

Distinguished delegates,

You have a lot to do this week, as I am sure you know, and I will move swiftly to allow you to get on with your work.

Allow me to highlight one matter in particular, namely the work related to making the provisions of MSC.1/Circ.1206/Rev.1 mandatory. This week, you are expected to finalize the draft amendments to SOLAS regulations III/3 and III/20 and the draft mandatory MSC resolution on Requirements for periodic servicing and maintenance of lifeboats and rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear. This will conclude discussions of 6 years, since the initial discussions took place at MSC 88 in 2010. The finalization of this important work is crucial to strengthening the confidence among seafarers when engaging in lifeboat drills and, more importantly, when faced with an emergency, that the life-saving appliances and equipment placed at their disposal function faultlessly. Therefore, I would like to encourage you to complete this important work at this session.

You have many other important issues before you this week, including matters related to the measures for onboard lifting appliances, passenger ship safety issues, the safety of MODUs, and the design of watertight doors.


Distinguished delegates,

I am confident that you will tackle the tasks before you successfully, inspired by the customary cooperation of the IMO family. Thanks to all the preparatory efforts and the Sub-Committee's overall record of effectively dealing with any challenges deriving from its agenda, I trust that, under the able leadership of your Chairman, Dr. Susumu Ota (Japan), you will make sound, balanced and timely decisions on which to base your advice to the Maritime Safety Committee. I am also confident that you will pursue your objectives vigorously and diligently. As always, the Secretariat will be standing by to give you all the support required. I wish you every success in your deliberations and the best of luck.

Finally, as is customary, I would like to remind you that the Secretariat will host a cocktail reception after the close of business this afternoon to which all of you are cordially invited.

Thank you.