IMO Releases Safety Video
A new IMO safety video was launched at the 100th meeting of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) earlier this month.
The video highlights the wide spectrum of work the Committee has done over six decades to enhance safety and security at sea, including navigation, cargoes, ship construction, seafarer training, search and rescue and communications.
The meeting saw progress in the regulatory scoping exercise on maritime autonomous surface ships; approval of revised guidelines on fatigue and further updates on work on goal-based standards, polar shipping and safety issues relating to low-sulfur fuel.
Regulatory scoping exercise on Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships
The process of assessing IMO instruments to see how they may apply to ships with varying degrees of autonomy continued during the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) 100th session. Following testing of the methodology by a correspondence group, the MSC approved the framework and methodology for the regulatory scoping exercise on Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS).
Once the first step is completed, a second step will be conducted to analyze and determine the most appropriate way of addressing MASS operations, taking into account the human element, technology and operational factors. An intersessional MSC working group is expected to meet in September 2019 to move forward with the process with the aim of completing the regulatory scoping exercise in 2020.
The list of instruments to be covered in the MSC’s scoping exercise for MASS includes those covering safety (SOLAS); collision regulations (COLREG); loading and stability (Load Lines); training of seafarers and fishers (STCW, STCW-F); search and rescue (SAR); tonnage measurement (Tonnage Convention); Safe Containers (CSC); and special trade passenger ship instruments (SPACE STP, STP).
Revised guidelines on fatigue approved
The MSC approved revised Guidelines on fatigue. The IMO has considered the issue for several decades, adopting Assembly resolution A.772(18) on Fatigue factors in manning and safety, in 1993. This was followed by the development of comprehensive Guidance on fatigue mitigation and management (MSC/Circ.1014), which was issued in 2001. The guidelines have been thoroughly reviewed and updated by the Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW 5), taking into account the latest research studies.
Safety of ships in polar waters
The Committee discussed how to move forward with developing possible mandatory or recommendatory measures for ships operating in polar waters which are not currently covered by the Polar Code. A roadmap was agreed, which could see revisions to SOLAS and/or the Polar Code considered for adoption in 2022.
MSC 99 had already instructed the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction (SDC) to consider recommended safety measures for fishing vessels of 24 m in length and over, with a view to alignment with the 2012 Cape Town Agreement; and pleasure yachts above 300 gross tonnage not engaged in trade (in both cases, for those operating in Polar waters). At this session, the Committee considered the wider application of Polar Code chapters 9 (Safety of navigation), 10 (Communication) and 11 (Voyage planning).
Preliminary draft text which would extend the application of the Polar Code to all ships to which SOLAS chapter V (Safety of navigation) applies was agreed, for further consideration.
The Polar Code is mandatory for certain categories of ships under the SOLAS and MARPOL Conventions. SOLAS chapter V (safety of navigation) in principle applies to all ships on all voyages (with some specific exceptions) while the applicability of SOLAS chapter IV (radiocommunications) also extends to cargo ships of 300 gross tonnage and upwards, as opposed to the general SOLAS application to ships of 500 GT and above. SOLAS does not apply to some specific categories of ships, including cargo ships of less than 500 gross tonnage; pleasure yachts not engaged in trade; ships of war and fishing vessels.
Sulfur 2020 limit – safety issues
The Committee agreed to include in its agenda for MSC 101 a new item to consider the potential need for guidance and advice concerning possible safety issues related to the implementation of the 0.50 percent limit of the sulfur content of fuel oil. At the same time, the Committee endorsed the view that, while fuel safety was a longstanding existing concern which needed to be carefully addressed, this should not affect Member States' commitment to implementing the 2020 sulfur limit from the date of application, January 1, 2020.