Nov 30, 2004

Goal-based ship construction standards on IMO MSC agenda

Development of goal-based standards for new ship construction is high on the agenda for the IMO Maritime Safety Committee's 79th session, being held in London, Dec. 1--10. As ever, members of this key committee face a heavy program--and, as usual, buried in the laundry-list of agenda items are many that could mean that shipowners and others in the maritime industry will have to make significant changes in the way they do business.

Thus, besides considering a fundamental reappraisal of the philosophy of ship design, MSC will be looking at a number of steps that could make the newly implemented international maritime security regime work better and is looking at a "unique company identification scheme."

The MSC will also consider adopting several amendments to the SOLAS Convention, including a revised chapter on bulk carrier safety, amendments to make mandatory the carriage of simplified voyage data recorders on existing cargo ships and the introduction of a unique company identification scheme.

The MSC is also expected to adopt a number of ships' routeing measures and the proposed Western European waters mandatory ship reporting scheme.

Goal-based construction standards for new ships

In order to facilitate the debate on goal-based new ship construction standards, the MSC Chairman has invited submissions on ten potential subjects.

These include:

  • whether or not goal-based standards should set prescriptive requirements or describe specific solutions, or prescribe high-level goals of safety and pollution prevention;

  • whether the goal-based standards approach should be extended to other areas (e.g. machinery and electrical systems, lifesaving appliances, fire safety, etc.) so that the same goal-setting regime covers the entire ship;

  • how to verify compliance with goal-based standards during the design, construction, operation and maintenance of ships and whether IMO should do this, and if so, how.

In response, 19 countries and three international organizations have between them submitted 26 documents for consideration, illustrating the importance IMO Members attach to the issue.

The MSC is expected to establish a Working Group to consider the documents submitted to work towards developing a clearly defined goal-based regulatory framework for ship construction, the details of which will then need to be further developed and enhanced over subsequent MSC sessions. Special attention will be given to the role of classification societies in their implementation.

Maritime security

The MSC is expected to re-establish the Working Group on Maritime Security to consider issues relating to the implementation of the measures that entered into force on 1 July 2004.

Topics for discussion are expected to include:

  • possible development of a checklist for conducting port facility security self-assessments;

  • a standardized data-set of security-related information that ships could be expected to provide in advance of their arrival in port;

  • false security alerts and distress/security double alerts;

  • long-range identification and tracking;

  • sharing of information on maritime security and

  • concerns over the publishing of data generated by Automatic Identification Systems (AIS).

Large passenger ship safety

The MSC is expected to re-establish the Working Group on Large Passenger Ship Safety to progress the work on this subject. Topics for discussion include a review of the work program, the definition of the term "large passenger ship" and the development of "time to recover" criteria.

Bulk carrier safety

The MSC will consider, with a view to adoption, a draft amended SOLAS chapter XII (Additional safety measures for bulk carriers), incorporating revisions to some regulations and new requirements relating to double-side skin bulk carriers.

The draft amendments include the addition of a new regulation 14 on restrictions from sailing with any hold empty and requirements for double-side skin construction as an optional alternative to single-side skin construction.

If adopted, the option of double-side skin construction would apply to new bulk carriers of 150 m in length and over, carrying solid bulk cargoes having a density of 1,000 kg/m3 and above.

The MSC is also expected to adopt standards and criteria for side structures of bulk carriers of single-side skin construction and standards for owners' inspections and maintenance of bulk carrier hatch covers.

Free-fall lifeboats on bulk carriers

The MSC is expected to adopt an amendment to SOLAS regulation 31 in chapter III (Life-saving appliances and arrangements) to make mandatory the carriage of free-fall lifeboats on bulk carriers.

Simplified Voyage Data Recorders

The MSC will consider, with a view to adoption, draft amendments to regulation 20 of SOLAS chapter V (Safety of Navigation) on a phased-in carriage requirement for a shipborne simplified voyage data recorder (S-VDR).

The draft regulation requires a VDR, which may be an S-VDR, to be fitted on existing cargo ships of 3,000 gross tonnage and upwards, phasing in the requirement on cargo ships of 20,000 gross tonnage and upwards first, to be followed by cargo ships of 3,000 gross tonnage and upwards.

The S-VDR is not required to store the same level of detailed data as a standard VDR, but nonetheless should maintain a store, in a secure and retrievable form, of information concerning the position, movement, physical status, command and control of a vessel over the period leading up to and following an incident.

IMO unique company and registered owners identification number scheme

The MSC will consider, with a view to adoption, draft amendments to SOLAS chapter XI-1 (Special measures to enhance maritime safety) to add a new Regulation 3-1 Company and registered owner identification number which will require companies and registered owners of seagoing ships of 100 gross tonnage and upwards to be provided with a unique identification number to be inserted on certificates, documents and the continuous synopsis record.

The MSC will also consider for adoption amendments to the ISM and ISPS Codes to add the unique company identification number and registered owner's unique identification number in the Document of Compliance, the Safety Management Certificate, Interim Document of Compliance and the Interim Safety Management Certificate, International Ship Security Certificate and the Interim International Ship Security Certificate.

New mandatory ship reporting system (WETREP) in the Western European Waters PSSA

The MSC will consider with a view to adoption the establishment of a new mandatory ship reporting system (WETREP) as an associated protective measure (APM) in the Western European Waters PSSA. The Western European Waters PSSA was designated by the MEPC at its 52nd session in October 2004.

Implementation of the revised STCW Convention

The list of Parties deemed to be giving full and complete effect to the provisions of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978, as amended, will be updated when IMO Secretary-General Mitropoulos submits his report on those countries whose evaluations have been completed since the previous MSC meeting.

Survey certificates

The MSC will consider for adoption an amendment to the form of certificate contained in the relevant Conventions, Protocols, mandatory Codes and non-mandatory Codes and guidelines to add the words "Completion date of the survey on which this certificate is based" in order to clarify, for control purposed, the date of the last survey.

Port State Control

The Committee will review issues relating to port state control, including the recommendations of the second and third IMO Workshops for Port State control MoU (Agreement) Secretaries and Directors of Information Centres. The recommendations include establishing interregional information exchange and harmonizing the coding systems used across the MoUs/Agreements.

Investigation of Marine Casualties and Incidents

The Committee is expected to consider a proposal to revise the Code for the Investigation of Marine Casualties and Incidents (resolution A.849(20) as amended by resolution A.884(21)). The aim would be to redraft and reformat the Code to make it more effective as a tool for the conduct of investigations. A proposal to look at ways to make the Code mandatory under SOLAS will also be discussed.

Other amendments

The MSC will also consider a slew of other amendments to SOLAS,and is expected to adopt a number of ships' routeing measures.

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