Preview of IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) (82nd session): 29 November to 8 December 2006

This week INTERTANKO is present with a delegation in Istanbul, Turkey, where the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is holding its 82nd Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) meeting while the IMO Headquarters in London is being refurbished.


INTERTANKO will report to its members in the Weekly NEWS as soon as it possibly can on the progress of the meeting, so that members can keep up to date with the latest regulatory moves.


The MSC meeting will be chaired by the MSC Vice Chairman Neil Ferrer, from the Philippines, as the Chairman, Igor Ponomarev, sadly died last month.


The important issues on the MSC agenda included:


Prevention of accidents involving lifeboats
The MSC is expected to consider for adoption a draft amendment to SOLAS regulation III/ concerning provisions for the launch of free-fall lifeboats during abandon-ship drills. The amendment allows, during the abandon-ship drill, for the lifeboat either to be free-fall launched with only the required operating crew on board, or to be lowered into the water by the secondary means of launching without the operating crew on board and then manoeuvred in the water by the operating crew. The aim is to prevent accidents with lifeboats occurring during abandon-ship drills.


Protective coatings
The MSC is expected to consider for adoption the Performance standard for protective coatings of dedicated seawater ballast tanks on all new ships and of double-side skin spaces of bulk carriers, which will then be made mandatory by way of amendments to SOLAS regulations II-1/3-2 and XII/6 concerning the application of the performance standard. It was agreed at the last MSC session that the performance standard should apply to ships for which the building contract is placed on or after 1 July 2008; or, in the absence of a building contract, the keels of which are laid on or after 1 January 2009, or the delivery of which is on or after 1 July 2012.


Goal-based new ship construction standards
The MSC is expected to re-establish the Working Group on Goal-based Standards (GBS) for New Ship Construction to further progress work on this issue.
The Committee is working on the basis of a prescriptive approach for GBS for provisions for hull construction for bulk carriers and oil tankers and a safety level approach for all other ship types.


With regard to the hull construction of bulk carriers and oil tankers, the MSC has already agreed on a five-tier system, consisting of goals (Tier I), functional requirements (Tier II), verification of compliance criteria (Tier III), technical procedures and guidelines, classification rules and industry standards (Tier IV) and codes of practice and safety and quality systems for shipbuilding, ship operation, maintenance, training, manning, etc. (Tier V). Tier I goals and Tier II functional requirements have already been agreed in principle.

Long Range Identification and Tracking - technical specifications and guidelines
The new regulation on LRIT, which is included in SOLAS Chapter V on Safety of Navigation, was adopted at the last MSC session in May, along with performance standards. LRIT will be introduced as a mandatory requirement for the following ships on international voyages: passenger ships, including high-speed craft; cargo ships, including high-speed craft, of 300 gross tonnage and upwards; and mobile offshore drilling units. The regulation is expected to enter into force on 1 January 2008 and will apply to ships constructed on or after 31 December 2008 with a phased-in implementation schedule for ships constructed before 31 December 2008. LRIT is intended to be operational with respect to the transmission of LRIT information by ships as from 31 December 2008.

The MSC will be invited to consider, for approval, technical specifications and guidelines developed by the ad hoc Working Group on Engineering Aspects of LRIT. The Group has developed draft technical specifications for the International LRIT Data Exchange, the International LRIT Data Centre and for communication within the LRIT System network; draft protocols for the development testing of the LRIT System and for the testing of the integration into the system of new LRIT data centres; and draft guidance on setting up and maintaining the Data Distribution Plan.

Role of the human element
The Joint MSC/MEPC Working Group on Human Element will meet during the session to consider human element issues, including the report of the Group of Independent Experts established by the Secretary-General to analyse the impact of the International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention  (ISM Code) and its effectiveness in the enhancement of safety of life at sea and protection of the marine environment. It will also consider the report of the Inter-Industry Working Group (IIWG), established to study the reported incidents of explosions on chemical and product carriers; the need for guidelines for abandonment of ships alongside in port, under ISM Code provisions; and a submission on human element research into leadership qualities.


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, is expected to be updated when the Secretary-General submits his report on those countries whose reports of independent evaluations have been completed since the previous MSC meeting.


Contact: Fredrik Larsson