Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction (SDC 8) - opening remarks


(17 to 21 January 2022)

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, observers, good morning, good afternoon, and good evening. 

As this is the first formal meeting of 2022, I will also wish you all a happy new year.

I am very pleased to welcome you all to the eighth session of the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, before commencing with my speech, I would like to express my condolences to the Government and people of Tonga following the volcano eruption that caused a cloud of ash and tsunami wave. Unfortunately, there is limited information at present, due to communications challenges occasioned by the incident. The Secretariat will continue to monitor the developments and remain available to provide the necessary support to the Government of Tonga.

I am encouraged by those governments that have already offered their support and would like to offer my appreciation to them and an encouragement to all who are able to support the Government and people of Tonga at this difficult time.

Despite the ongoing pandemic and the difficult circumstances, the work of this Organization has continued in an exemplary fashion, and so has the maritime transport sector as a whole. I sincerely hope that the international community, and shipping in particular, will remain upbeat and resilient after almost two years of extraordinary sacrifices and challenges.  

We must also not relent in our efforts to support seafarers to get vaccinations and boosters, to re-join their families and facilitate their access to work and to crew change by engaging with Administrations and national authorities and by continuing to work together at the national and international level to recognize them as essential workers and to preserve their rights.

This year's World Maritime Theme is "New Technologies for greener shipping", highlighting IMO's commitment to support the transition of the maritime sector into a sustainable green future through technological innovation. The theme provides an opportunity for the entire Organization to focus on the importance of clean maritime transport and the need to build back better and greener in a post-pandemic world.

Distinguished delegates,

It has been almost two years since the last session of your Sub-Committee in February 2020. Despite the delay of this session due to the pandemic, I am pleased to note that the Sub-Committee has been taking proactive action and making pragmatic arrangements during the past two years, through a smooth continuation of the work of correspondence groups, an intersessional working group and many informal meetings to prepare for this session.

Regarding the business at hand for this week, I would firstly like to highlight those two items of work which this Sub-Committee is expected to complete at this session.

This includes the finalization of the new SOLAS chapter XV and the associated new Code for Industrial Personnel, both of which provide mandatory provisions for ships carrying industrial personnel to ensure the safety of such personnel on ships carrying them. While I understand that some challenges remain, I am confident that these issues can be solved amicably so that the SOLAS chapter XV and the IP Code can enter into force on 1 July 2024.

The other instrument that awaits completion at this session is the draft Explanatory Notes to the Interim guidelines on second generation intact stability criteria. You may recall that, at your last session, I urged you to complete the work on the Interim Guidelines for second generation intact stability criteria after more than 20 years of hard work.

This Sub-Committee delivered, and now the approved Interim Guidelines are being used on a trial basis. It is therefore absolutely paramount that we provide Administrations and the shipping industry with the specific guidance to assist in the uniform interpretation and application of the new Interim Guidelines. Hence, I urge you again to overcome any differences you may have to provide the complete package for approval by the Committee.

I would also like to single out a new output on your Sub-Committee's agenda, and that is the review of the MEPC Guidelines for the reduction of underwater noise.

There is limited uptake of the current guidelines. The experts in this meeting will examine the barriers to the uptake of the guidelines with a view to addressing them in support of efforts towards a significant and measurable reduction of underwater-radiated noise from ships, which recognize the advancements in technology and research and incorporate this knowledge to make ships quieter and to protect the world's oceans and their inhabitants from ship-induced noise pollution.

You will further consider other important matters, such as safety objectives and functional requirements of the Guidelines on alternative design and arrangements for SOLAS chapter II-1, amendments to the ESP Code, requirements for emergency towing equipment for ships in addition to those already in place for tankers, the revision of the MODU Codes to prohibit the use of asbestos, as well as the revision of the performance standards for water level detectors to address multi-cargo hold cargo ships.

Before I conclude, I wish to pay tribute to Kees Metselaar from the Netherlands, a long-time IMO delegate to this sub-committee and many others, the sad news of his passing was shared with the MEPC last year. I offer my heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues, many of who are in this meeting today

Taking into account the large volume of work to be considered at this session and the fact that time for deliberations and discussions is very limited for virtual meetings, I am confident that you will find a solution concerning the working arrangements of the Sub-Committee in order to address the challenges ahead.

Despite this session being held remotely with a heavy workload, I am confident that the customary IMO spirit of cooperation will prevail during your deliberations.

With this, I wish you every success and a happy, prosperous and healthy year 2022.