IMO MSC 108 Unveils Maritime Safety Innovations And Security Measures

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The IMO Maritime Safety Committee will meet in person for its 108th session (MSC 108) at IMO Headquarters from 15 to 24 May 2024. The Committee deals with all matters related to maritime safety and maritime security that fall within the IMO scope. This includes many issues, including enhancing maritime security, setting global safety standards, seafarer issues and the human element, regulating autonomous vessels, piracy and armed robbery against ships, addressing cyber security and safety issues related to greenhouse gas emissions reduction, reports Safety4sea.

MSC 108 highlights

  1. Measures to enhance maritime security, including Red Sea security
  2. Development of a code for autonomous ships (Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships – MASS)
  3. Development of a safety regulatory framework to support the reduction of GHG emissions from ships using new technologies and alternative fuels
  4. Revision of the Guidelines maritime Cyber Risk Management
  5. Addressing violence and harassment in the maritime sector – training requirements to be adopted
  6. Training and certification of fishing vessel personnel – revised treaty and a new code to be adopted
  7. Guidelines on the medical examination of fishers – to be approved
  8. Amendments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention and associated instruments– to be adopted
  9. Piracy and armed robbery updates to be considered
  10. Reports from the Sub-Committees – approval of various sets of provisions
Measures to enhance maritime security, including Red Sea security

The Committee will address the urgent issue of maritime security in the Red Sea Area. The Committee is expected to consider a proposed resolution condemning the attacks. The Committee will also discuss various documents and proposals for actions to address some of the challenges seafarers and ships are facing in the area.

Development of a code for autonomous ships  

IMO is working to develop a non-mandatory goal-based Code for Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) to ensure these ships operate safely and in coexistence with conventional ships.

The Committee will continue to work to develop a MASS Code at this session, taking into account the various documents submitted to MSC 108 as well as the Joint MSC-LEG-FAL Working Group on MASS (MASS-JWG), which brings together the Maritime Safety, Legal, and Facilitation Committees. The MASS-JWG met for its third session from 8 to 10 May.

Given the significant volume of work to be completed, the Committee is expected to update the road map for developing a non-mandatory MASS code and establish relevant intersessional working and correspondence groups to continue the work.

Development of a safety regulatory framework to support the reduction of GHG emissions from ships using new technologies and alternative fuels   

IMO’s goal of achieving net zero shipping will require the uptake of zero or near-zero GHG emission technologies, fuels, and/or energy sources. Suitable provisions will be needed to ensure the safe operation of these new technologies and alternative fuels on ships. A correspondence group was established at the Committee’s last session (MSC 107) to start working on this issue.

The Committee will consider the report of the Correspondence Group on the Development of a Safety Regulatory Framework to Support the Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships Using New Technologies and Alternative Fuels.

The report includes a summary list of fuels and technologies that could support the reduction of GHG emissions from ships, as well as an assessment of technical aspects, hazards, and risks to ship/shoreside for each of these listed fuels and technologies. Safety obstacles and gaps in existing regulations were also assessed.

Revision of the Guidelines maritime Cyber Risk Managementnt    

The Committee will consider submissions from various Member States and observer organizations regarding the revision of the Guidelines on maritime cyber risk management (MSC-FAL.1/Circ.3/Rev.2). The Committee will consider the proposals put forward to update these guidelines and discuss next steps to enhance maritime cybersecurity.

Addressing violence and harassment in the maritime sector

The Committee will consider, with a view to adoption, draft amendments to the Seafarers’ Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Code (STCW Code), to prevent and respond to violence and harassment in the maritime sector, including sexual harassment, bullying, and sexual assault.

The draft amendments were approved by MSC 107 and reviewed by the joint ILO/IMO Tripartite Working Group to Identify and Address Seafarers’ Issues and the Human Element (JTWG), which met in February 2024.

The draft amendments are included in table A-VI/1-4 (Specification of minimum standard of competence in personal safety and social responsibilities) of the STCW Code. They outline new mandatory minimum requirements for basic training and instruction for all seafarers. These aim to equip seafarers with knowledge and understanding of violence and harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying, and sexual assault, and information on how to prevent and respond to incidents.

The Committee will discuss recommendations from the JTWG, including the launching of awareness campaigns and other further measures applicable to Administrations, shipping companies, social partners, and UN agencies to address violence and harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying, and sexual assault.

Amendments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention and associated instruments on safety 

The Committee will consider, with a view to adoption, draft amendments to the following IMO instruments related to safety:

1974 SOLAS Convention 

Draft amendments tChapterer II-1 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) 1974, on the structure of ships, to include a new section requiring emergency towing arrangements to be fitted on ships other than tankers.

Draft amendments to chapters II-2 and V of SOLAS 1974, on oil fuel parameters other than flashpoint; fire detection within control stations and cargo control rooms; fire safety of ro-ro passenger ships; and reporting of the loss of containers.

IGF Code 

Draft amendments to the International Code of Safety for Ships Using Gases or other Low-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code), including regulations about specific requirements for ships using natural gas as fuel; bunkering operations; and manufacture and testing for the fuel containment system.

Grain Code 

Draft amendments to the International Code for the Safe Carriage of Grain in Bulk (Grain Code), introducing a new class of loading conditions for special compartments.

2011 ESP Code 

Draft amendments to the International Code on the Enhanced Programme of Inspections during Surveys of Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers, 2011 (2011 ESP Code), regarding procedures for approval and certification of a firm engaged in thickness measurement of hull structures.

LSA Code 

Draft amendments to the International Life-Saving Appliance (LSA) Code, regarding the in-water performance of lifejackets; single fall and hook systems; and lowering speed of survival craft and rescue boats.

FSS Code 

Draft amendments to the International Code for Fire Safety Systems (FSS Code), with regards to fire safety of ro-ro passenger ships.

IMDG Code 

Draft amendments to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code), including updates throughout the document from the list of contents, foreword, and preamble, parts 1 to 7, to the appendices and index. This covers parts 1 (General provisions, definitions, and training), 2 (Classification), 3 (Dangerous goods list, special provisions, and exceptions), 4 (Packing and tank provisions), 5 (Consignment procedures), 6 (Construction and testing of packagings, intermediate bulk containers, large packagings, portable tanks, multiple-element gas containers, and road tank vehicles, and 7 (Provisions concerning transport operations).

Other  

The Committee will also consider other mandatory instruments, with a view to adoption: Performance standards for protective coatings (resolutions MSC.215(82) and MSC.288(87)) as well as Requirements for maintenance, thorough examination, operational testing, overhaul and repair of lifeboats and rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear (resolution MSC.402(96)).

Piracy and armed robbery 

Incidents of piracy and armed robbery of ships reported to IMO have increased by approximately 15% between 2022 and 2023. According to information received and made available via IMO’s Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS) platform, 150 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported to the Organization as having occurred or been attempted in 2023, compared to 131 reported incidents in 2022. While the full report for 2024 is still being compiled, current figures show 43 incidents being reported over the first quarter of 2024 (January to March).

The Committee will discuss these developments and hear updates on IMO work to address piracy and armed robbery at the regional level. This includes initiatives such as the Djibouti Code of Conduct (with Jeddah Amendment), covering the Western Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden, and the Yaoundé Code of Conduct, covering the Gulf of Guinea.

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Source: Safety4sea