MSC 78 – Further report on the outcome of the IMO’s Marine Safety Committee sessions

1. Lifeboat safety

Free fall lifeboats.

This continues to be a high priority item for INTERTANKO and the issue was again addressed by the IMO at last week’s session of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 78). The Committee considered in particular the matter of the high free-fall launching of lifeboats, in view of the significant number of injuries being incurred. Reviewed in detail was the issue of participation of ship crews in such free fall drills. The IMO was requested to remove references to “20 metres” from its draft MSC circular and “simulated free-fall launch” but the IMO could not agree to this proposal. and in the end the MSC circular was approved. It was noted, however, that this is viewed as a short-term measure in an attempt to stem the loss of life and injuries incurred and that the Design and Equipment Sub-committee will continue to work on this aspect.

Amendments to SOLAS 1974 as amended Chapter III Life saving appliances & arrangements

Amendments to SOLAS addressing lifeboat safety were further addressed under this item, in particular Regulation 20 of chapter III.

Paragraph 3.3.3 of the current text of this regulations reads:

“ Except as provided in paragraphs 3.3.4 and 3.3.5 each lifeboat shall be launched, with its assigned operating crew onboard and manoeuvred in the water at least once every three months during abandon ship drill.”

It was agreed that this text would be replaced by the following:

“Except as provided in paragraphs 3.3.4 and 3.3.5 each lifeboat shall be launched, and manoeuvred in the water by its assigned operating crew once every three months during abandon ship drill.”

Relevant changes to existing paragraph 7 of Regulation 20 were also made which will in future require all lifeboats (except free-fall lifeboats) to be turned out from their stowed position without any persons onboard if weather and sea conditions so allow.

2. Bulk liquid gases

IBC (International Bulk Chemical) Code amendments

These were approved by the MSC with a view to adoption at MSC 79

Safety data for the evaluation of chemicals

The MSC noted that document MEPC 49/INF.24 (Click here to view) indicated that the GESAMP (Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection)/EHS Working Group (GESAMP Working Group on the Evaluation of the Hazards of Harmful Substances Carried by Ships) had not been able to find sufficient data to complete one or more of the columns C1, C2, or C3 of the GESAMP Hazard Profiles (relating to safety criteria) and that the Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC 49) had agreed that if this data was not forthcoming then these products would not appear in the revised IBC Code. This would mean that it would not be possible to transport these items in bulk after 2007.

The MSC therefore urged the chemical industry to provide the missing safety data for the products identified in document MEPC 49/INF 24 to enable GESAMP to complete its work.

The products identified in MEPC INF.24 with incomplete data in columns A1, B1 and A3 of the GESAMP Hazard Profiles (relating to marine pollution criteria) would not be included in the IBC Code.

Materials of construction

A proposal from the Working Group on the Evaluation of Safety and Pollution Hazards (ESPH) to MEPC was that column “m” of the chapter 17 of the IBC Code should be deleted as the ESPH was of the opinion that this was not widely used and was outdated. The INTERTANKO Chemical Tanker Committee (CTC) was of the opinion that this was essential information from a safety aspect (a position also strongly supported by IACS). After due debate the MSC agreed to delete column “m” from chapter 17 of the IBC Code but shared the concerns that such removal would result in a lack of requirements material and cargo compatibility.

Therefore, having reviewed the draft text for Chapter 6 of the revised IBC Code the MSC agreed to revise this further to take these concerns into account and agreed that it should be the responsibility of the shipyard to provide compatibility information to the ship operator and/or Master in a timely manner before delivery of the ship. The text also provides that the shipper is responsible for providing compatibility information to the ship operator and/or Master.

3. Maritime Security

Last Ten Ports

This concerns the specific questions "when should ship operators start to record the list of the last ten ports visited as required by the ISPS Code? " and "how would this be interpreted by PSC?".

The Plenary discussion agreed with the outcome from the Maritime Security Working Group that this should start from the implementation date 1 July 2004. The actual text produced was as follows:

"The requirements under regulations XI-2/, XI-2/, XI-2/ to keep records of past calls at port facilities and ship to ship activities commence on 1st July 2004 and only apply to calls made, or activities undertaken, on or after that date."

The Maritime Safety Working Group (MSWG) also recommended that priority be given by all FlagStates and Port State Control regimes to raising awareness of this point.

Security Measures and procedures to be applied during ship/port interface when either the ship or the port do not comply with the requirements of chapter XI-2 of the ISPS Code.

MSC 78/Working Paper 13 Annex 3 (Click here to view) contains the MSC Circular on Guidance Relating to the Implementation of SOLAS Chapter XI-2 and the ISPS Code. As agreed by the INTERTANKO Offshore Tanker Committee (IOTC), INTERTANKO raised with MSC 78 concerns with regard to potential problems which tankers may encounter after calling at offshore installations, particularly FPSOs and FSUs. This was discussed in a larger context brought in by a document submitted by the Marshall Islands which raised similar concerns with regard to possible problems to be encountered by ISPS-compliant ships after calling at non-compliant ports, at ports of Governments not party to the ISPS Code, and after ship-to-ship operation with a non-compliant ship. After many deliberations, the Committee agreed to issue a Circular for further guidance.

4. S-VDR

Implementation for retro-fit S-VDRs and draft S-VDR performance standards

Reference is made to last week’s report on this issue regarding the proposed draft amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, Chapter V, Safety of Navigation, Regulation 20 – voyage data recorders. Click here to view the amendments which state the final implementation dates for retro-fitting S-VDRs. The text was approved by the MSC. We have received some questions regarding the application of the two-year exemption for ships that will be taken out of service. This makes reference to the implementation date which is tied in with the scheduled dry-dock. The clarifying text is due to be adopted at the MSC session in December 2004. The intent, however, is that the exemption date will be the scheduled dry-dock date, subject to final confirmation by the MSC in December 2004.

Contact: Howard Snaith