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May 12, 2004

BIMCO opposes move to mandate double skins for bulkers

One of the most controversial topics on the agenda at the 78th session of IMO's Maritime Safety Committee, is whether new bulk carriers of 150 m in length and over, carrying solid bulk cargoes having a density of 1,000 kg/m3 and above, should be of double-side skin construction;

The has been discussed internally in the various committees of BIMCO--the world's largest shipowners' group-- and after careful consideration a position has uniformly been reached to recommend that MSC 78 not adopt the double skinning proposal.

Half of BIMCO's 900 shipowner members own, manage or operate bulk carriers. In total, BIMCO members control more than 70 percent of the world's bulk carrier fleet measured by tonnage and approximately 65 percent measured in numbers.

In reaching its conclusion, BIMCO has striven to perform a factual and unbiased assessment of the pros and cons of the proposed mandate and the position of BIMCO is encapsulated in the following points:

1) The industry objective remains to create safer and more robust ships. In this context it is worth noting that the present Single Side Skin (SSS) bulk carrier design is rather well regulated, both by IMO instruments (SOLAS Ch. XII) and by more than ten IACS (International Association of Classification Societies) Unified Requirements, whereas very few uniform regulations are in place for DSS designs.

2) BIMCO considers FSA (formal safety assessment) to be the tool for the future decision making process of the IMO. The FSA studies submitted to IMO on bulk carrier safety and a Greek critical review do point out both the positive benefits of the IMO FSA technique, as well as the weaknesses of the present concept. This entire FSA exercise on bulk carrier safety provides many lessons to be learned, which should be fed back, in order to improve the IMO FSA techniques further.

3) BIMCO notes the unresolved differences in the specific FSA studies on bulk carrier safety and the Greek comparative FSA study. Given these unresolved differences and questions they have raised, BIMCO feels it would be prudent not to base such an important technical decision on the present studies.

4) BIMCO believes that the adoption of the DSS mandate has to be stopped until the IMO FSA model is sophisticated enough to tackle the unresolved differences between the FSA studies.

5) BIMCO also believes that due to the fact that IACS is not expected to deliver Unified Rules for DSS bulk carriers until the end of 2004, it would be premature to support a mandate for DSS against a set of yet unknown rules. BIMCO fully supports IACS in this work and appreciates the great task it is to develop such rules.

6) Finally, if IMO maintains the decision that double side skin is the future for bulk carriers then BIMCO will highlight the need to make the new generation of bulk carriers fit for purpose.

BIMCO, established in Denmark in 1905, is the world's largest international shipping association, with approximately 2,550 members in 123 countries. The owner-members of BIMCO control a fleet of about 525 million DWT thereby representing 65% of the world's merchant fleet. BIMCO is accredited as an official observer at the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Among its many activities, BIMCO provides practical information and assistance to the maritime community

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