Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE), 5th session, 12-16 March 2018 (opening address)


Good morning, distinguished delegates,

It is a pleasure for me to welcome you to the fifth 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.

Before addressing the work of your Sub-Committee, I have to mention with great sadness the recent serious fire in a cargo hold of the Maersk Honam, a 15,000 TEU container ship, sailing under Singapore flag. On behalf of the IMO membership, the Secretariat and myself, I would like to send our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of the crew member from Thailand who perished in the accident, as well as those from the Philippines and India that remain missing. I would also like to commend all those involved in the international search and rescue and fire-fighting operations. While it is too early to fully evaluate the extent of the incident, I look forward to receiving, in due course, the report of the casualty investigation, so that the Organization can do whatever may be necessary to reduce the chances of such a tragic event happening again.

Distinguished delegates,

In attending to the work of your Sub-Committee during this week, I urge you to be proactive, and to deliver on the key issues emanating from the challenges of international shipping, not only during this meeting but throughout the year and beyond, and fulfilling the expectations and objectives set for the Organization, creating and sustaining an even safer, more secure, more environmentally friendly and more efficient maritime world.

I would also like to take this opportunity to say a few words about this year's World Maritime Day theme, which is "IMO 70: Our heritage – better shipping for a better future".

Last week, on 6 March, we celebrated the 70 years since the convention establishing IMO was adopted. We were extremely honoured to receive Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at IMO Headquarters. Her Majesty unveiled a commemorative plaque, cut an anniversary cake and met representatives from the IMO family – I know some of you here today were able to join us on that happy occasion.

We are planning a series of events and initiatives to further commemorate 70 years of achievement, during which the truly vital industry of shipping has become safer, cleaner and greener, thanks to the work of IMO. Whilst I look forward to your participation in some or all of those events, I would also encourage you to embrace the theme and use this occasion to reflect and showcase how the Organization has adapted over the years as a crucial player to the global supply chain; and to be passionate about the IMO family. This is a great opportunity to raise awareness of our work and our future and to improve our international image. We owe it to the shipping industry and in particular to the seafarers.

This year’s World Maritime Day will be celebrated at IMO Headquarters on 27 September, and the annual parallel event will be organized by the Government of Poland.


Distinguished delegates,

I would now like to highlight some key issues among the various items on the agenda of SSE 5.

With regard to the development of draft functional requirements for SOLAS chapter III, you will be invited to consider whether this work should continue with its current focus on SOLAS chapter III, or whether it should change and focus on the consistent application of SOLAS regulations III/4.3, on novel life-saving appliances or arrangements, regulation III/38, on alternative design and arrangements, and the Guidelines on alternative design and arrangements for SOLAS chapters II-1 and III set out in circular MSC.1/Circ.1212. I hope you will be able to agree on the way forward so that real progress can be made.

The long awaited Polar Code entered into force last year on 1 January 2017. Some remaining work still needs to be carried out and I would urge you to develop new test and performance criteria for Life-Saving Appliances and Arrangements (LSA) intended for use in polar waters; so that the challenges emanating from the operation of ships in the areas around the two poles can be properly addressed.

Regarding your task to review SOLAS chapter II-2 and associated codes to minimize the incidence and consequences of fires on ro-ro spaces and special category spaces of new and existing ro-ro passenger ships, I would like to highlight that you are expected to identify key issues for safety measures and which SOLAS provisions and associated codes need to be revised; as well as to develop draft interim guidelines. This will further improve the safety of ro-ro passenger ships.

As for the work related to requirements for onboard lifting appliances and anchor handling winches, you will recall that MSC 98 expressed the view that further consideration should be given to where in the SOLAS Convention the new provisions should be included. The new draft SOLAS regulations and draft guidelines for the safety of onboard lifting appliances and anchor handling winches will form an important part of your work this week.

Finally, in an effort to contribute to the global action to reduce air pollution from ships and respond to climate change, you will consider the development of guidelines for cold ironing of ships with a view to a possible development, in the future, of amendments to SOLAS chapters II-1 and II-2, as necessary. This is an exciting new field of work for the Organization, emphasizing the close connection between ships and ports and I am looking forward to seeing your conclusions on the matter.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the port authorities for their active collaboration on environmental issues, particularly the challenges related to climate change.

Distinguished delegates,

I am confident that you will tackle the many tasks before you successfully as usual, inspired by the customary IMO spirit of cooperation and under the able leadership of your Chair, Dr. Susumu Ota of Japan. I am sure that, ably supported by 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.