Flag State Implementation Sub-committee tackles big agenda

The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Flag State Implementation Sub-committee (FSI) met this week at the IMO’s headquarters in London. FSI’s broadsweeping agenda tackled the implementation of MARPOL, reviews from port state control authorities and the general assessment of Member States’ implementation of IMO legislation.

FSI has the unenviable task of assessing the state of implementation of the IMO’s various legislative requirements and obligations, applicable to both port and flag states. As a result, the agenda is varied and full, with issues ranging from the use of unique identification numbers for companies and registered owners to the training of port state control officers.

One important matter cleared up this week involved maritime security and whether under the ISPS Code the master would be able to act as the Ship Security Officer (SSO). The FSI took no time to agree that the master could act as the SSO, unless the flag state indicated otherwise. This unanimous position taken by FSI will be forwarded to the parent committee, the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC). Additionally, MSC will also be requested to note that further implementation issues are arising with the ISPS Code as ships and ports hurry towards the 1 July enforcement date. These issues will go on the agenda of the MSC, requiring further consideration and action.

A consistent feature of FSI  is the Working Group on Casualty Statistics and Investigations. A definite step forward was taken at this meeting when the Working Group progressed further with the Casualty Database, now due for launching in June 2004. The IMO secretariat is developing and maintaining the database, with input and advice given by Member States and NGOs. To refine and finalise the database, and to continue with the processing and analysis of new casualty reports, the Working Group has re-established a correspondence group in which INTERTANKO will participate.

Reporting obligations placed on flag and port states with respect to the adequacy of port reception facilities caused a lengthy debate. The summarised outcome of the discussions was an improved reporting system, a clear outline of a state’s obligations and the development of a live database on reception facilities. This was seen as positive from the point of view of INTERTANKO, which supported the idea of ensuring that the IMO’s data on reception facilities be updated and easy to access. It was decided that this type of information should be included in the Global Information System on International Shipping (GISIS), currently under development by the IMO secretariat.

FSI agreed that the unique ID for shipping companies and registered owners would be included in GISIS, and that in the future it would also be added to the continuous synopsis record (CSR). There was agreement, though, that the CSR could not be amended in the immediate future as it would cause havoc with the current implementation process for the ISPS Code.

A positive discussion followed the presentation of the Port State Control MoUs’ Annual Reviews. In particular, the Chairman of the Paris MoU noted that several flag states had improved on their performance recently, some moving into its white list, others into its grey list. Croatia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey and the Russian Federation all made statements regarding the seriousness of such reports and the importance that was placed on improving the standing of individual states. Each of the aforementioned states went on to explain how it is improving its standards and what its aims are for the future, including training initiatives and additional spot own-fleet inspections.

Contact: Tim Wilkins