Tuesday, July 25,
acts on ERIKA incident
After the Erika pollution disaster,
it's unlikely that unilateral EU legislation on tankers can
be entirely averted, particularly with France holding the EU
Presidency. Nonetheless, IMO, the International Maritime Organization,
has started to respond in reaction to the Erika incident and
most shipowners are hoping that IMO can gain control over what
could be termed "the post-Erika process."
Earlier this month, IMO's Subcommittee
on Navigation met in London.One of its actions was to approvea
new mandatory ship-reporting system which would be applicable
in the central English Channel, making it easier to track and
communicate with ships in the area. The system would supplement
the existing mandatory ship-reporting systems already established
at Ouessant and in the Pas de Calais. The system was proposed
by France and the U.K. In opening remarks to the subcommittee,
IMO Secretary-General William A. O'Neil expressed his appreciation
to France and other countries for bringing their proposals to
IMO, stressing that IMO "is the right and only place where
issues concerning international shipping safety and environmental
protection should be discussed and resolved".
It remains to be seen whether French politicians
and their constituents will accept this. Meantime, the proposal
for the new mandatory reporting system will now go to IMO's
Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) at its 73rd session in November-December
2000 for adoption. If adopted, which seems a virtual certainty,
it will enter into force six months later, that's to say in
Under mandatory ship-reporting systems,
ships are obliged to give information about themselves, including
their identity and cargo, to coastal authorities. Authorities
can then track voyages and communicate with ships immediately
should a dangerous situation, such as risk of collision or grounding,
arise. Outside mandatory reporting systems, coastal authorities
may only be aware of blips on radar screens - with no further
information on the particular ship.
The new system, to be called MANCHEREP,
would apply to all ships of over 300 gross tonnage and would
cover the current traffic separation system off Les Casquets
and the areas bordering upon it. Ships over 300 gross tonnage
entering the area would be required to give information to the
coastal authorities, including name of ship, position, destination
and details of cargo if any potentially dangerous cargoes are
carried on board. Coastal authorities would then be able to track
Currently, vessel traffic service (VTS)
centers located at Corsen, Jobourg and Gris-Nez monitor the traffic
separation schemes (TSS) of Ouessant, les Casquets and the Pas
de Calais respectively, together with the surrounding areas.
Mandatory ship-reporting systems were put in place at Ouessant
in 1996 (OUESSREP) and in the Pas de Calais in 1999 (CALDOVREP).
The mandatory ship-reporting system now
being proposed, would be based on the Jobourg VTS, which has
been monitoring shipping in the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS)
off Les Casquets and the surrounding area since 1983. The system
will replace the voluntary MAREP reporting system in place in
Some 300 ships pass through the area every
day but the identification rate is just slightly above 40%. Setting
up a mandatory reporting system will enable the rate to be increased
significantly. Ships under 300 gross tonnage are recommended
to make reports on a voluntary basis.
The mandatory reporting scheme was just
one of the item's on the sub-committee's agenda
"No-anchoring area" approved
as new ships routeing measure
The Sub-Committee approved a proposal to allow "no-anchoring
areas" to be incorporated into the General Provisions on
Ships' Routeing. This would mean that no-anchoring areas should
be adopted in areas where anchoring is unsafe, unstable, hazardous,
or it is particularly important to avoid damage to the marine
environment, and therefore anchoring should be avoided by all
ships or certain classes of ships.
The amendments to the General Provisions
on Ships' Routeing (resolution A.572(14), as amended) to add
"No-anchoring area" as a new ships routeing measure
will be put forward to MSC 73 for adoption, subject to confirmation
by the 22nd Assembly in 2001.
"No-anchoring area" on Flower
Garden Banks Coral reefs approved
The Sub-Committee approved the establishment of three mandatory
no-anchoring areas on coral reef banks (Flower Garden Banks)
in the north-western Gulf of Mexico.
The proposed measure, to be applicable
to all ships, is expected to reduce significantly the risk of
damage to the coral marine environment by ships, without restricting
the sea area available for navigation. The size of the areas
and the proposed measures are limited to what is essential for
the interests of safe navigation and the protection of the marine
Traffic separation schemes
The Sub-Committee approved four new traffic separation schemes
along the Peruvian coast, for adoption by MSC 73:
1 Landfall and approaches to Talara Bay;
2 Landfall Off Puerto Salaverry;
3 Landfall and approaches to Ferrol Bay
(Puerto Chimbote); and
4 Landfall and approaches to San Nicolas
It also approved the establishment of new
traffic separation schemes and associated routeing measures in
the approaches to the River Humber on the east coast of England
to cope with the increase in the volume of maritime traffic.
Also approved were amendments to the existing traffic separation
scheme in Prince William Sound (United States). The proposed
amendments would reduce the potential for traffic congestion
in the area and contribute to improving vessel traffic management
Standard marine communication phrases
The Sub-Committee approved draft revised Standard Marine Communication
Phrases (SMCP. These are intended to replace the Standard Marine
Navigational Vocabulary (SMNV) adopted by IMO in 1977 (and amended
in 1985). The SMNV was developed for use by seafarers, following
agreement that a common language - namely English - should be
established for navigational purposes where language difficulties
arise and the SMCP has been developed as a more comprehensive
standardized safety language, taking into account changing conditions
in modern seafaring and covering all major safety-related verbal
The SMCP builds on a basic knowledge of
English and has been drafted in a simplified version of maritime
English. It includes phrases for use in routine situations such
as berthing as well as standard phrases and responses for use
in emergency situations.
Under the International Convention on Standards
of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW),
1978, as revised in1995, the ability to understand and use the
SMCP is required for the certification of officers in charge
of a navigational watch on ships of 500 gross tonnage or above.
The SMCP will be presented to the 22nd
session of the IMO Assembly in 2001 for adoption, after approval
by the MSC, following clarification by the Sub-Committee on Standards
of Training and Watchkeeping (STW) on whether the SMCP meets
requirements in the STCW Code (Table A-II/1) and review by the
Sub-Committee on Radio-Communications and Search and Rescue (COMSAR).
Draft amendments to COLREGs
The Sub-Committee approved draft amendments to the Convention
on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at
Sea, 1972 (COLREGs), to be put forward to MSC 73 for adoption
and to the 22nd IMO Assembly in November 2001 for final adoption.
The amendments concern:
- whistles and sound signals (Rules 33 and
- action to avoid collision (Rule 8 (a))
- to make it clear that any action to avoid collision should
be taken in accordance with the relevant rules in the COLREGs;
- amendments with respect to high-speed
craft (relating to the vertical separation of masthead lights);
- amendments with relation to Wing-In-Ground
(WIG) craft, to include a rule that WIG craft should keep well
clear of all other vessels and another rule that WIG craft should
exhibit a high-intensity all-round flashing red light when taking
off, landing and in-flight near the surface.
The Sub-Committee also:
- Prepared a draft MSC Circular on Guidelines
on Ergonomic Criteria for Bridge Equipment and Layout for submission
to the MSC for approval.
- Agreed on a draft revision of resolution
A.860(20) Maritime policy for a future global navigation satellite
system (GNSS) to update the user requirements for general
navigation and positioning and introduce user requirements for
non-general navigation and positioning.
- Agreed new and amended performance standards,
for adoption by the MSC, for:
- - shipborne global positioning system
(GPS) receiver equipment;
- shipborne GLONASS receiver equipment;
- shipborne DGPS and DGLONASS maritime radio beacon receiver
- shipborne combined GPS/GLONASS receiver equipment; and
- marine transmitting heading devices (THDs).
- Agreed in principle draft Guidelines
on the operational use of shipborne automatic identification
systems (AIS), for review by the MSC and subsequent finalization
by the next session of the Sub-Committee before they are submitted
to the 22nd session of the IMO Assembly for adoption.
- Agreed amendments to the draft revised
International Code for High Speed Craft (HSC 2000) due to be
adopted at MSC 73, to bring carriage requirements for Voyage
Data Recorders (VDRs) into line with the draft new revised Chapter
V (Safety of Navigation) of SOLAS - also scheduled to be adopted
by MSC 73.
- Agreed draft amendments to the 1994 HSC
Code, to include carriage requirements for VDRs, intended to
be submitted to the 74th session of MSC in spring 2001, following
further review by the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment.
- Agreed amendments to the draft Guidelines
for the design, construction and operation of passenger submersible
craft, to require these craft to have an underwater location
device and to be fitted with a speed and distance device. The
guidelines will be submitted to MSC 73 for approval.
- Reviewed a draft revised text of Annex
2 - Recommendation on operational procedures for maritime
pilots other than deep-sea pilots to resolution A.485(XII)
on Training, qualifications and operational procedures for
maritime pilots other than deep-sea pilots and agreed to
continue discussions at the next session of the Sub-Committee,
scheduled for July 2001.
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