MSC 81 – Safety – lifeboats, lifejackets, GISIS

At the recent meeting of the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 81), the Committee adopted several amendments to IMO instruments. A brief summary of the relevant amendments and guidelines affecting safety is given below: 


As reported in Weekly NEWS No. 03/06of 20 January 2006 a new text concerning provisions for the launching of free-fall lifeboats during abandon ship drills will amend SOLAS from 1July 2006.  

As MSC/Circ.1115, which addressed free-fall launching from high-launch heights (20 metres), will expire on 25 May 2006 and has been superseded by the new regulation III/, the Committee agreed to urge member states via MSC.1/Circ.1207(see below under MSC Circulars)to implement the new regulation as soon as possible. Consequently, the Committee agreed to replace the word “the” between the words “commence” and “launch” by the word “simulating” in the text.  

The text will now read:

' In the case of a lifeboat arranged for free-fall launching, at least once every three months during an abandon ship drill the crew shall board the lifeboat, properly secure themselves in their seats, and commence simulating launch procedure up to but not including the actual release of the lifeboat (i.e. the release hook shall not be released).  

'The lifeboat shall then either be free-fall launched with only the required operating crew on board, or lowered into the water by means of the secondary means of launching without the operating crew onboard, and then manoeuvred in the water by the operating crew.

At intervals of not more than 6 months, the lifeboat shall be either launched by free-fall with only the operating crew on board, or simulated launching shall be carried out in accordance with guidelines developed by the organization.*

*Refer to MSC/Circ. 1137 on guidelines for simulated launching of free-fall lifeboats [or its successor.]' 


The revision enters into force on 1 July 2010. 

-          Suitable lifejackets shall be provided for persons weighing over 140 kg.

-          Lifejackets shall be marked either by weight or height, or both.

-          Lifejackets shall be constructed so that at least 75% of persons who are completely unfamiliar with the lifejacket can correctly don them within a period of 1 minute. 

Click here to see all the amendments to the LSA-Code. 


Amendments enter into force 1 January 2008. 

-          Strengthening of the training requirements for rescue boats. 

Click here to see all the amendments to the STCW pertaining to rescue boats. 

MSC Circulars: 

The following MSC Circulars concerning safety were approved by the MSC and direct links will be provided in INTERTANKO’s Weekly NEWS once the circulars have been made available by the IMO.  

          MSC.1/Circ.1182: Guide to recovery techniques.

MSC.1/Circ.1185: Guide for cold water survival.

MSC.1/Circ.1196: Means of embarkation on and disembarkation from ships.

MSC.1/Circ.1205: Guidelines for developing operation and maintenance manuals for lifeboat systems.

MSC.1/Circ.1206: Measures to prevent accidents with lifeboats.

MSC.1/Circ.1207: Early implementation of SOLAS regulation III/

MSC.1/Circ.1208: Promoting and verifying continued familiarization of GMDSS operators on board ships.

MSC.1/Circ.1210: COSPAS-SARSAT International 406 MHz Beacon Registration Database.

MSC/MEPC.2/Circ.2: IMO Requirements on carriage of publications on board ships.

MSC/MEPC.2/Circ.3: Guideline on the basic elements of a shipboard occupational health and safety programme.

STCW.6/Circ.10: Amendments to part B of the Seafarers Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Code related to guidance on familiarisation and training for seafarers serving on board ships fitted with free-fall lifeboats.  

 GISIS: Global Integrated Shipping Information System  

The IMO secretariat has developed a platform to enable the maritime community easily to find shipping information on the web. Several modules are already available, and more are in the pipeline. At present there is information about the ISPS-Code, Casualties, Recognised Organisations, Port Reception Facilities, Condition Assessment Scheme (CAS) and Piracy.

Click here: for further information. 

Miscellaneous: Further, the Committee discussed several subjects, and decided to assign them to appropriate sub-committees for detailed consideration in the future. 

-          Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) - training and familiarisation courses;

-          ECDIS - mandatory requirement for certain ship types;

-          Bridge Navigation Alarm - mandatory requirement;

-          Safe Manning - review of the principles for establishing the safe manning levels of ships;

-          Alcohol limits - consider mandatory maximum alcohol limits for watch keeping personnel. 

The United Kingdom’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has produced a leaflet (click here to view) intended to help leaders and officers improve their leadership and management skills in order to ensure safe operations. The guide contains tips and best practices for ten core leadership qualities for effective safety leadership. 

Contact: Fredrik Larsson