Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE), 7th session, 2-6 March 2020 (opening remarks)


(2 to 6 March 2020)

Good morning, distinguished delegates,

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

A year has passed since the sixth session of your Sub-Committee and I would like to take this opportunity to look back and acknowledge the achievements of the Organization, made possible through your hard work and dedication. All Member States and observer organizations have contributed to the Committee, Sub-Committee and experts meetings that took place since your last session, paving the way for more robust regulations and recommendations to enhance maritime safety and security and ensure the protection of the marine environment.

As always, I encourage all of you to be attentive and motivated to deliver on the key targets, not only during this session of your Sub-Committee, but throughout the year and beyond, fulfilling the expectations and objectives set for the Organization, with a view to sustaining an even safer,
more secure, environmentally friendly and efficient maritime sector.

Before addressing the work of your Sub-Committee, I must mention matters related to the Novel Coronavirus. In this regard, I released last month Circular Letters No.4203 and No.4204 and addenda, both available on  IMODOCS. The Circular Letters provide important information and guidance for delegates and seafarers, based on the recommendations developed by the World Health Organization, on the precautions to be taken to minimize risks emanating from the Novel Coronavirus.  In addition, I wish to advise delegates that dispensers for hand sanitizer have been placed throughout the building. 

In this context, I would also remind Flag and Port State authorities, companies and shipmasters that they should cooperate, in the current context of the outbreak, to ensure that, where appropriate, passengers can be embarked and disembarked, cargo operations can occur, ships can enter and depart shipyards for repair and survey, stores and supplies can be loaded, certificates can be issued and crews can be exchanged.

In conclusion, we must all remain vigilant and 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". The 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 IMO's 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, the safety of fishing vessels and the wider participation of women in the maritime community.

I would like to remind you that this year's World Maritime Day will be celebrated here, 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 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 confirming 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.

Distinguished delegates,

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

I urge you to complete the work on the draft amendments to the LSA Code and the Revised recommendation on testing of life-saving appliances regarding ventilation requirements for survival craft, aimed at improving the micro climate in survival craft to increase the safety and comfort level of the survivors in an accident. The matter has been on the agenda of the Sub-Committee since its fourth session and I hope it will be completed at this session.

This session also offers the opportunity to address the issue on fire safety on ro-ro passenger ships to minimize the fire incidents and their consequences, which has become increasingly important, following some  recent tragic incidents. Following the meeting of the Experts Group on Formal Safety Assessment held in November last year, your Sub-Committee will embark on the development of draft amendments to relevant IMO instruments to address fire safety on ro-ro passenger ships.

Let me commend you on the progress made on the development of the draft SOLAS regulations on onboard lifting appliances and anchor handling winches at the last session. For this session,
the Sub-Committee's task is to complete the draft Guidelines for lifting appliances, as well as the draft Guidelines for anchor handling winches in order to complement the draft SOLAS regulations. This item has been on your agenda since 2011 and I am very hopeful that you will be able to finalize the work this time. The prevention of accidents related to lifting appliances and anchor handling winches, which have caused harm to operators and damage to ships, cargo, shore-based structures and subsea structures, as well as the marine environment, is a very important matter indeed.

Last but not least, I would like to stress the importance of the finalization of the  guidelines for cold ironing of ships to add your voice to the global response to climate change. IMO's recent focus has been on ship energy conservation and emission reduction. The safe application of on-shore power supply can only be achieved when there are global standards. The Committee has authorized the establishment of a special Experts Group to progress the work on this important issue. I am confident that the Sub-Committee will do its utmost to finalize the draft Guidelines at this session.

Distinguished delegates,

Considering the fact that the number of submissions has increased by almost one third compared to the last session, you have a quite ambitious agenda ahead. However, I have no doubt that you will tackle the tasks before you successfully as usual, inspired by the customary IMO spirit of cooperation and under the leadership of your new chair Mr. Umut Senturk of Turkey. I wish him good luck for this first session under his chairmanship, ably supported by the Vice-Chair and the staff of the Secretariat as always. I am sure that 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 welcome reception hosted by me in the Delegates' Lounge this evening, after the closure of today's session.

Thank you.