2001 Maritime

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Biloxi, MS, June 5 & 6

June 1, 2001

More international safety regulation in the pipeline
The 74th meeting of IMO's Maritime Safety Committee is currently underway in London. It has a packed agenda. That will inevitably ultimately lead to yet more changes to international regulations- with large passenger ships, in particular, being a likely target for stricter rules.

Also on the agenda, though, is the issue of providing shelter for ships in distress and the state of progress with the STCW "White List."

Sheltered waters – reaction to the Castor
Earlier this year the salvors of the fully-laden tanker Castor were unable, for some 35 days,to find a sheltered place to effect cargo transfer and repairs. The Castor had sustained considerable damage in heavy weather and was deemed to present a serious risk of pollution and explosion.

IMO Secretary-General William O’Neil reacted with a call for a comprehensive review of the whole question of providing shelter for stricken vessels. He suggested that, in the interests of safety of life and environmental protection, coastal States should review their contingency arrangements so that disabled ships could be provided with assistance and facilities appropriate to the circumstances.

The MSC is now starting its consideration of issue,

Implementation of the revised STCW Convention
The so-called STCW White List of parties deemed to be giving full and complete effect to the provisions of the revised STCW Convention is set to be updated when Secretary-General William O’Neil submits his report on those countries whose evaluations have been completed since the previous MSC meeting, in November 2000.

The MSC will be invited to publish the names of any countries that now qualify to be added to the list.

Fraudulent practices associated with the issuing of certificates of competency and endorsements have been causing great concern throughout the shipping industry. IMO commissioned the Seafarers International Research Center at Cardiff University in Wales to undertake research into the problem and the MSC will receive an abridged report of the study for consideration. The report will confirm the disturbing fact that evidence of fraudulent practice was found in respect of every type of  certificates issued in accordance with the STCW Convention.

Large passenger ship safety
The safety of large passenger ships was first raised in IMO during the 72nd meeting of the MSC in May 2000,. The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) then agreed to undertake a global consideration of safety issues relating to these ships and a Working Group on Large Passenger Ship safety began work at the next session of the Committee (MSC 73, in November-December 2000), to review the current safety regime as it relates to large passenger ships.

At this latest session, the MSC will be invited to consider the report of a correspondence group formed to meet between sessions, as well as a variety of submissions by Governments and international organizations aimed at enhancing the safety of large passenger ships. A working group will be once again be established during the session to advise the committee on any further action needed to be taken on the issue.

Bulk carrier safety
The Committee will be invited to consider a number of submissions by Governments and international organizations, in particular submissions by the United Kingdom providing the results of a program of bulk carrier model tests and proposals stemming from the report of the re-opened formal investigation into the loss of the mv Derbyshire. The Committee will also consider the results to date of the various formal safety assessment (FSA) studies on bulk carrier safety being conducted by members and international organizations. A working group will be established during the session to advise the Committee on any further action needed to be taken on the issue.

Radiocommunications and search and rescue
The Committee will be invited to approve a draft circular from its Communications and Search and Rescue subcommittee (COMSAR) Circular on increasing instances of interference between stations in the International NAVTEX Service with adjoining time slots, due to over-running. It will also be asked to approve proposed draft amendments to the Joint IMO/IHO(International Hydrographic Organization)/WMO(World Meteorological Organization) Manual on MSI and instruct the Secretariat to issue the amended Manual as an IMO publication, and to adopt a proposed draft MSC resolution on the adoption of amendments to resolution A.810(19) – Performance standards for float-free satellite emergency position-indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs) operating on 406 MHz.

The MSC will also be asked to approve proposed draft amendments to SOLAS regulation V/21 to make the carriage of Volume III of the IAMSAR (International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue) Manual mandatory, together with the associated draft MSC resolution, for adoption at MSC 75; to adopt proposed draft amendments to the IAMSAR Manual and approve the associated draft MSC circular, and to approve the draft MSC Circular on Guidelines for the preparation of plans for co-operation between search and rescue services and passenger ships, to revoke MSC/Circ.864.

Role of the human element - Formal safety assessment
Against a background of increasing concern about the part played by human factors in maritime casualties, the MSC will reconvene the Joint MSC/MEPC Working Group on the Human Element and Formal Safety Assessment to consider the reports of correspondence groups on Fatigue and on Formal Safety Assessment.

Piracy and armed robbery against ships
With incidents of piracy and armed crime at sea again on the increase, the Committee is set to consider the report on the first meetings in the Asian and Pacific Region as part of the new anti-piracy project and to finalize draft Assembly resolutions on Measures to prevent the Registration of “Phantom” Ships and on a Code of Practice for the investigation of the crimes of piracy and armed robbery against ships. Member Governments will be invited to use the Code when arranging for investigations into such crimes to be conducted under their jurisdiction.