May 29, 2003
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.
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 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 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.
Bulk carrier safety
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 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
Proposed IMO Model Audit Scheme
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:
Flag State implementation
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
Piracy and armed robbery against ships
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.