IMO continues work on lifeboat safety and maritime security

The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) sub-Committee on Standards of Training and Watchkeeping (STW) met this week for its 35th session. INTERTANKO participated at the meeting, where work continued on watchkeeping at anchor, lifeboat safety and maritime security.

A guidance document for masters on keeping a safe anchor watch was endorsed by the sub-Committee and will now go forward for approval in May by the Maritime Safety Committee. This will take the form of an IMO Circular giving guidance to the master on issues pertinent for a safe anchor watch. Within the 10-point list drawn up, account should be taken of prevailing weather, sea, ice and current conditions; traffic conditions; loading and discharging operations; and, nature, size and characteristics of the anchorage. The endorsed circular stresses that a deck officer shall at all times maintain responsibility for safe anchor watch with the master establishing watchkeeping arrangements as per the STCW Code (chapter VIII, section A-VIII/2, part 3-1, paragraph 51).

An endorsement was also given to a draft resolution on measures to prevent accidents with lifeboats. Following extensive work carried out by INTERTANKO in previous IMO meetings, it is encouraging to note that this resolution will now be sent for final approval by the end of this year. This resolution will see specific attention drawn to the dangers associated with the operation of off-load and on-load release devices in the text of the STCW Code. Together with this amendment, the sub-Committee also made amendments to SOLAS regulation III/19 regarding abandon ship drills. In essence, the sub-Committee favoured the option of only requiring the assigned operating crew to participate in free-fall launch drills. Further discussion was non-conclusive and the remaining issues will now be discussed and endorsed by the Design and Equipment sub-Committee (DE) meeting taking place at the end of February.

Regarding action on maritime security, and subject to approval by the MSC, the minimum mandatory training and certification requirements for persons to be designated as SSOs  will be included in the STCW Convention. Together with this, the periodic revalidation was deemed to be unnecessary for SSO certificates of proficiency. The sub-Committee also agreed that training and certification requirements for Company Security Officers (CSOs) was not appropriate for inclusion in either the STCW Code or STCW Convention.

Finally, following a submission by INTERTANKO at the seventh sub-Committee meeting on Bulk Liquids and Gases (BLG 7), STW was requested to endorse BLG 8’s decision to extend the work on the mandatory requirement of safety data sheets for the carriage of toxic liquids to cover MARPOL Annex I cargoes and marine fuel oils.


Steinar Kr. Digre (lifeboats)
Gunnar A. Knudsen (maritime security)
Howard Snaith  (anchor watch)