IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), which met at the Organization's London Headquarters for its 89th session from 11 to 20 May 2011, completed a packed agenda, including the development of interim guidance on the employment of privately contracted armed security personnel on board ships transiting the high-risk piracy area, the adoption of amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) concerning lifeboat release hooks, an agreement on the way forward with regard to the implementation of the Torremolinos Protocol on fishing vessel safety and the approval of a number of draft resolutions for submission to the IMO Assembly, to be held in November 2011.
Piracy and armed robbery against ships
The meeting approved MSC Circulars on Interim Guidance to shipowners, ship operators, and shipmasters on the use of privately contracted armed security personnel on board ships when transiting the High Risk Area, and Interim recommendations for flag States on the use of privately contracted armed security personnel on board ships when transiting the High Risk Area. These interim Circulars provide considerations on the use of privately contracted armed security personnel if and when a flag State determines that such a measure would be appropriate and lawful. They are not intended to endorse or institutionalize their use and do not represent any change of policy by the Organization in this regard.
The MSC also approved Guidelines to assist in the investigation of the crimes of piracy and armed robbery against ships, and adopted a resolution on the Implementation of Best Management Practice Guidance. (See Briefing 27/2011 http://www.imo.org/MediaCentre/PressBriefings/Pages/27-MSC-89-piracy.aspx)
Adoption of SOLAS amendments – lifeboat release mechanisms
The MSC adopted a new paragraph 5 of SOLAS regulation III/1 to require lifeboat on-load release mechanisms not complying with new International Life-Saving Appliances (LSA) Code requirements to be replaced no later than the first scheduled dry-docking of the ship after 1 July 2014 but, in any case, not later than 1 July 2019.
The SOLAS amendment, which is expected to enter into force on 1 January 2013, is intended to establish new, stricter, safety standards for lifeboat release and retrieval systems, aimed at preventing accidents during lifeboat launching, and will require the assessment and possible replacement of a large number of lifeboat release hooks.
The Committee also adopted Guidelines for evaluation of and replacement of lifeboat release and retrieval systems and related amendments to the LSA Code and associated amendments to the Revised recommendation on testing of life-saving appliances (resolution MSC.81(70)).
Member governments were encouraged to initiate, at the earliest opportunity, approval processes for new on-load release and retrieval systems that comply with the amendments to the LSA Code.
Implementation of the Torremolinos fishing vessel safety Protocol
The MSC agreed a draft Agreement on the Implementation of the 1993 Protocol relating to the 1977 Torremolinos Convention on the Safety of Fishing Vessels, aimed at achieving the entry into force of the technical provisions of the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol on fishing vessel safety. The Committee also agreed draft amendments to the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol, which would be attached to the Agreement, to facilitate the adoption of the Agreement.
Following this, countries could consider implementation of the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol under the terms and conditions contained in the Agreement (countries should give effect to the provisions of the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol under the terms of the Agreement, when they deposit an instrument of ratification). The Agreement would be a new, legally binding, instrument, offering a firm foundation to implement the amended provisions of the Torremolinos Protocol.
The MSC agreed to recommend several options to the IMO Council, so that the draft agreement could be adopted at the IMO Assembly in November 2011, or by a diplomatic conference in 2012.
Future work to implement goal-based standards to be considered
The MSC was updated on progress made with the implementation of the International Goal-based Construction Standards for Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers, which were adopted at its 87th session, along with the associated amendments to SOLAS Chapter II-1 making their application mandatory, as well as verification guidelines and the ship construction file.
The MSC approved Generic guidelines for developing goal-based standards and agreed how the work on GBS should be progressed. The Committee also discussed its future work in the matter, including developing the safety level approach (SLA) in goal-based standards.
LRIT status updated
The MSC was updated on developments in relation to the establishment and testing of LRIT Data Centres (DCs) and the operation of the LRIT system since its last session, including the results of the first modification testing phase and the operation of an Information Distribution Facility (IDF) for the provision of flag State LRIT information to security forces operating in waters off the Gulf of Aden and the western Indian Ocean.
The MSC agreed that the transfer of operations of the International LRIT Data Exchange (IDE) from the temporary facility in the United States to the facility at the European Maritime Safety Agency in Lisbon, Portugal, should be conducted before 31 December 2011.
The MSC also reviewed the performance review and audit reports of the IDE and DCs submitted by the International Maritime Satellite Organization (IMSO), as the LRIT coordinator, together with its findings and recommendations; and issues concerning the long-term operational and financial viability of the LRIT system.
Implementation of mandatory IMO audit scheme
Following significant progress made by the Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation (FSI) towards making the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme mandatory, the MSC approved the proposed draft IMO Instruments Implementation Code (IIIC), which would be the proposed new title for the mandatory version of the current Code for the implementation of mandatory IMO instruments, 2011. The draft IMO Instruments Implementation Code will also be forwarded for consideration and approval by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), and then to the Assembly, for adoption at an appropriate future session.
Draft Assembly resolutions approved
The MSC approved, for submission to the IMO Assembly in November 2011:
• the draft Revised Recommendations for entering enclosed spaces aboard ships;
• the new draft International Code on Enhanced Programme of Inspections during Surveys of Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers, 2011 (2011 ESP Code);
• draft amendments to the International Convention on Load Lines (LL), 1966, to shift the Winter Seasonal Zone off the southern tip of Africa further southward by 50 miles;
• the draft Code of Safe Practice for Ships Carrying Timber Deck Cargoes, 2011 (2011 TDC Code), revising and updating the original code adopted in 1973;
• the draft IMO/World Metereological Organization (WMO) Worldwide Met-ocean information and warning service guidance document;
• the draft Revised procedures for Port State Control, 2011;
• the draft revised Survey Guidelines under the Harmonized System of Survey and Certification, 2011, which include references to relevant amendments to statutory instruments entering into force up to and including 31 December 2011; and
• the draft revised and updated (non-mandatory) Code for the implementation of mandatory IMO instruments, 2011, to include the requirements deriving from amendments to relevant IMO mandatory instruments that will enter into force up to and including 1 July 2012.
In connection with other issues arising from the reports of IMO Sub-Committees and other bodies, the MSC:
• Adopted amendments to the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (IMSBC), to revise individual schedules for a number of cargoes;
• Adopted amendments to Part B of the International Code on Intact Stability, 2008 (2008 IS Code) relating to application of the 2009 MODU Code for Mobile offshore drilling units (MODU Code);
• Approved Guidelines on tank entry for tankers using nitrogen as an inerting medium;
• Approved the IMO User Guide to SOLAS chapter XI-2 and the ISPS Code; and
• Approved amendments to update the IMO/International Labour Organization (ILO)/ United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Guidelines for packing of cargo transport units (CTUs), to be forwarded to ILO and the UNECE for concurrent endorsement.