The MSC has approved, in principle, the draft Polar Code and related amendments to make the Code mandatory under SOLAS, with a view to formal adoption at its next session in November, IMO confirmed on Wednesday.
The draft Polar Code covers the full range of design, construction, equipment, operational, training, search and rescue and environmental protection matters relevant to ships operating in the inhospitable waters surrounding the two poles.
The MSC also adopted important SOLAS amendments related to inert gas systems as well as amendments to a number of treaties to bring into force the mandatory IMO audit scheme. Work on passenger ship safety also continued.
Matters related to the safety of navigation and communication were referred to the Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR), which meets in July, for finalization of the relevant chapters.
The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) is expected to further consider the environmental chapter at its next session in October (MEPC 67).
Passenger ships safety
With respect to passenger ships safety, a revised action plan has been agreed, following extensive discussion in a working group on passenger ship safety.
A number of matters relating to damage stability and survivability of passenger ships were referred to the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction (SDC) for further work, including those related to the operation of watertight doors and consideration of double hull requirements in way of engine rooms. The SDC was also instructed to consider the need to develop new SOLAS amendments to require damage control drills for passenger ships.
The Sub-Committee on Human Element and Training (HTW) was instructed to include enhanced damage stability training in its planned outputs.
Meanwhile, the Committee instructed the Sub-Committee on Implementation of IMO Instruments (III) to complete its consideration of the report on the grounding, in 2012, of the Costa Concordia, as a matter of priority, to upload the “lessons learnt” on IMO’s Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS) and to bring to the attention of MSC 94 the contributing factors, issues raised/lessons learnt and observations on the human element factors involved.
Revised IGC Code adopted
The revised International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (the IGC Code) was adopted by the MSC. The completely revised and updated Code has been developed following a comprehensive five-year review and is intended to take into account the latest advances in science and technology. It will enter into force on 1 January 2016, with an implementation/application date of 1 July 2016.
Safety of container ships – weight verification amendments approved
The MSC approved, for adoption at MSC 94 in November, draft amendments to SOLAS chapter VI to require mandatory verification of the gross mass of containers, either by weighing the packed container or by weighing all packages and cargo items and adding the tare mass. The Committee also approved related draft guidelines regarding the verified gross mass of a container carrying cargo, to be issued as an MSC circular.
Piracy and armed robbery against ships reviewed
The MSC reviewed the latest statistics on piracy and armed robbery against ships and discussed current initiatives to suppress piracy and armed robbery, noting that the number of worldwide piracy attacks had decreased and that no SOLAS ship had been hijacked in the western Indian Ocean area since May 2012, as a welcome result of the robust actions taken by the international naval forces in the region, the shipboard measures implemented by shipping companies, masters and their crews as well as the deployment of professional security teams.
However, the Committee noted with concern the situation in the Gulf of Guinea which had not substantially improved. Nine ships were reported hijacked in 2012 and another nine ships were reported hijacked in 2013.
The MSC expressed its support, in principle, for draft interim guidelines on measures to support seafarers and their families affected by piracy incidents off the coast of Somalia, developed by Working Group 3 (WG3) of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), and agreed to forward them to the International Labour Organization (ILO), as many of the aspects fall under ILO’s purview, being complementary to the 2006 Maritime Labour Convention (MLC).
Lifeboat safety: amendments to SOLAS chapter III
The MSC, noting a number of inconsistencies between the requirements of the draft amendments to SOLAS regulations III/3 and 20 and the draft MSC resolution on Requirements for periodic servicing and maintenance of lifeboats and rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear, agreed to refer these draft amendments to the Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE) for further consideration.