Port Security Conference

May 29, 2003

O'Neil opens busy MSC session
In opening remarks at the current session of IMO's Maritime Safety Committee, IMO Secretary-General William O'Neil trumpeted the shipping industry's continued success in improving its safety and environmental record. It was his final opening address at MSC. He retires later this year--and will be a hard act to follow.

O'Neil spoke of shipping as "an industry to be proud of", and added that no opportunity to emphasize this should be missed. Shipping, he added, "is in a much better state, from the safety and pollution prevention viewpoints, than it was a decade ago."

O'Neil pointed to recently released Lloyd's Underwriters statistics for 1991 to 2001. These show a clear and sustained drop in the number of ships over 500 gt lost each year, from over 180 in 1991 to less than 80 units just ten years later. In terms of aggregate gross tonnage, losses fell from 1.75 million gross tons in 1991 to less than 0.75 million lost in 2001.

He also made referred to the improving figures concerning bulk carrier safety, an issue with which the MSC has been dealing for more than a decade. He called conclusions reached in INTERCARGO's latest Bulk Carrier Casualty report "very encouraging indeed."

In the ten-year period from 1993 to 2002, the average number of bulk carriers, lives and deadweight tonnage lost has fallen.

"The beneficial impact of the standards adopted by this Organization, either in the form of amendments to SOLAS or the application of FSA in the IMO decision-making process, and those approved by IACS, should be recognized as contributing to the improvements in this sector of shipping," said O'Neil. He added that further gains should be expected following the adoption of the proposed amendments to the 1988 Load Line Protocol which are before the Committee at this session.

The MSC faces a heavy schedule at the current session, which started yesterday and ends June 6.

A revised Annex B to the 1988 Load Lines Protocol and amendments to the enhanced survey programme for bulk carriers and oil tankers are expected to be adopted and other issues on the agenda include the implementation of the far reaching security measures adopted in December 2002, places of refuge, the safety of bulk carriers, the proposed IMO Model Audit Scheme (which is an attempt to improve flag state performance) and implementation of the revised STCW Convention.

Revised 1988 Load Lines Protocol
The MSC (including Parties to the 1988 Load Lines Protocol) is expected to adopt what amounts to a comprehensive revision of the technical regulations of the original Load Lines Convention.

The proposed amendments to Annex B to the 1988 Load Lines Protocol (i.e. the International Convention on Load Lines, 1966, as modified by the Protocol of 1988 relating thereto) include a number of important revisions, in particular to regulations concerning: strength and intact stability of ships; definitions; superstructure and bulkheads; doors; position of hatchways, doorways and ventilators; hatchway coamings; hatch covers; machinery space openings; miscellaneous openings in freeboard and superstructure decks; cargo ports and other similar openings; spurling pipes and cable lockers; side scuttles; windows and skylights; calculation of freeing ports; protection of the crew and means of safe passage for crew; calculation of freeboard; sheer; minimum bow height and reserve buoyancy; and others.

The amendments, when adopted, would not affect the 1966 LL Convention and would only apply to approximately two-thirds of the world's fleet, i.e., to those ships flying the flags of States Party to the 1988 LL Protocol. At the end of April 2003, the Load Lines Protocol 1988 had been ratified by 63 States representing 63.25 per cent of world merchant shipping tonnage, while the 1966 LL Convention had been ratified by 150 States representing 98.45 per cent.)

At its last session the MSC agreed to the drafting of an Assembly resolution to encourage all Contracting Governments to the 1966 Load Lines Convention to become Parties to the 1988 LL Protocol, as the most practical way of achieving widespread application of the new provisions.

Amendments to SOLAS
The expanded MSC is expected to adopt amendments to chapter V on Safety of Navigation of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974, as amended.

The proposed amendments to SOLAS regulations V/2 Definitions and V/22 Navigation Bridge Visibility add the definition of "length" to regulation V/2 and a consequential editorial change is made to regulation V/22. The draft proposed definition states that "length of a vessel means her length overall".

Proposed draft amendments to SOLAS regulation V/28 on Records of navigational activities add a new paragraph on daily reporting. The proposed draft amendments would require all ships of 500 gross tonnage and above, engaged on international voyages exceeding 48 hours, to submit a daily report to their company, to include ship's position; ship's course and speed; and details of any external or internal conditions that are affecting the ship's voyage or the normal safe operation of the ship.

The aim of the proposed draft amendments is to address the responsibilities of ship operators to provide information of benefit to those responsible for mounting rescue operations.

The MSC is expected to adopt amendments to the Guidelines on the enhanced program of inspections during surveys of bulk carriers and oil tankers (resolution A.744(18)), to include a new appendix 3 to Annex 12 of Annex B of the Guidelines relating to the sampling method of thickness measurements for longitudinal strength evaluation and repair methods.

Security issues
The MSC will consider issues facilitating the implementation of the security measures adopted by the 2002 SOLAS Conference on Maritime Security.

Bulk carrier safety
The MSC is expected to establish a working group to continue the work on bulk carrier safety. The working group will consider the outcome of the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment which, at its 46th session in March, looked in detail at a significant number of bulk carrier safety-related issues which had been referred to it by the previous MSC.

Amongst other issues, the MSC at this session will be invited to adopt the draft MSC resolution on Performance standards for water level detectors on bulk carriers and the draft MSC resolution on Application of IACS Unified Requirements S26, S27, S30 and S31 to bulk carriers. It will also be invited to approve a number of bulk carrier safety-related circulars and consider preliminary draft amendments to SOLAS chapter XII, concerning the introduction of basic definitions of bulk carrier; bulk carrier of single-side skin construction; bulk carrier of double-side skin construction; and double-side skin, for the purpose of that chapter, when deciding on further action regarding the general review of SOLAS chapter XII.

Places of refuge
The MSC will review the issue of places of refuge, including two draft Assembly resolutions on Guidelines on places of refuge for ships in need of assistance and Guidelines on a Maritime Assistance Service (MAS), prepared by the Sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation (NAV). The MSC will receive the outcome of discussions on the draft resolutions from the Sub-Committee on Radiocommunications and Search and Rescue (COMSAR) and the Legal Committee.

The MSC is expected to provide further relevant instruction to NAV 49, which meets in June-July, in order for the drafts to be submitted to the Assembly in November-December 2003.

Implementation of the revised STCW Convention
The 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 IMO Secretary-General William O'Neil submits his report on those countries whose evaluations have been completed since the previous MSC meeting.
The MSC will be invited to publish the names of any countries that now qualify to be added to the list.

Proposed IMO Model Audit Scheme
The MSC will consider further the development of the proposed IMO Model Audit Scheme, which would be designed to help promote maritime safety and environmental protection by assessing how effectively Member States implement and enforce relevant IMO Convention standards, and by providing them with feedback and advice on their current performance.

The MSC will convene the Joint MSC/Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC)/Technical Co-operation Committee (TCC) Working Group on the voluntary IMO Model Audit Scheme, which will be tasked with the following:

  • develop clear objectives and clear principles for the voluntary IMO Model Audit Scheme
  • develop a work plan, including technical co-operation activities, capacity-building and financing for the achievement of the objectives of the Scheme
  • based on the objectives and principles developed, identify:
  • those areas/sectors of the competent authority of a Member State which should be audited and which would provide an objective appraisal of it, taking into account that different Member States may have different ways of discharging their responsibilities; and
  • those IMO instruments containing safety, security and environmentally-critical responsibilities and obligations of a Party thereto which could be audited for the attainment of the objectives of the Scheme;
  • develop, as far as practicable, a framework document of the Scheme; and
  • prepare a report of the Joint Working Group for the Committees and the 90th session of Council (June 2003) and the 22nd extraordinary session of the Council (November 2003, prior to the 23rd session of the IMO Assembly in November 2003), as appropriate, including pertinent recommendations to bring the Scheme into operation.

Flag State implementation
The MSC will review issues arising from the work of the Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation (FSI) which, at its 11th session in April 2003, had agreed that a new proposed draft Code for the implementation of IMO instruments - which would outline how this should be achieved by all parties involved - would play an important role in ensuring complete and uniform implementation of IMO standards by all stakeholders (i.e. flag States, port States and coastal States).

The work on the development of the Code follows a proposal to develop amendments to the Guidelines to assist flag States in the implementation of IMO instruments (resolution A.847(20)) to introduce transparent criteria for proper implementation of IMO instruments by flag States and to transform the Guidelines into a Flag State Implementation Code, to be made mandatory at a later stage.

Large passenger ship safety
The MSC will review ongoing work on large passenger ship safety.

Piracy and armed robbery against ships
The MSC will review the reports on incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships submitted to IMO and consider proposals to develop a co-ordinated plan of action for future activities to tackle piracy and armed robbery against ships through regional agreements.

IMO's ant-piracy project began in 1998. Phase one consisted of a number of regional seminars and workshops attended by Governmental representatives from countries in piracy-infested areas of the world; while phase two consisted of a number of evaluation and assessment missions to different regions.

Since then, IMO has convened one sub-regional meeting for West and Central Africa (MOWCA) for the purpose of considering the conclusion of regional agreements on the prevention and suppression of acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships, and is in the process of organizing similar meetings in other regions of the world.

The Committee will also consider plans concerning technical assistance, in agreement with, and on the request of, countries concerned, within the Organization's anti-piracy project.

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