Major topics discussed in the MSC meeting at IMO last November

4 years ago
In the last week of November 2012 the 91st session of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) was held at the IMO in London. The topics for this session were amendments to the SOLAS convention covering new requirements for passenger vessels, the Code for noise levels on board ships, procedures for recovery of persons from the water, requirements for on board drills related to fire fighting and furthermore piracy, goal-based standards and the approval of circulars from other subcommittees.
One of the major developments which took place during the MSC 91 committee meeting was the introduction of the new SOLAS II-1/3-12 regulation covering reduction of noise on board.

New ships will have to be constructed in a noise reducing manner and personnel must be protected from noise. The maximum noise level limits for control rooms, machinery spaces workshops, accommodation and other areas are laid down in the new “Code on noise levels on board ships”. It will enter into force on July, 1st 2014.

It will be applicable to new ships of 1600 GT or above for which the building contract is placed on 1st of July 2014, or, if there is no contract, construction (keel laid) is 1st of January 2015 or the delivery is on or after the 1st of July 2018. The code includes both mandatory and non-mandatory parts.

SOLAS II-2 Fire Fighting
With regard to the topic of fire fighting some new requirements were discussed during the meeting. Most of them will be reflected in SOLAS II-2. They are expected to enter into force on 1st of July 2014.

To ensure good communication between different fire fighter teams a minimum number of explosion proof portable radio telephones is required to be available on board of tankers (II-2/10).

As regards training, the fire fighting regulation II-2/15 will require on-board means of recharging breathing apparatus cylinders, or at least a suitable number of spare cylinders.

In accordance with the FSS code Ch 3, an audible and visual alarm of low level of air must be available. Regular drills and training on board are essential elements of the operational safety of a vessel.

FSS Code
As well as adding new fire fighting requirements to SOLAS, the FSS Code (Code for Fire Safety Systems) was also amended. The main changes are new requirements for a fixed pressure water-spraying fire extinguishing system to be installed in ro-ro spaces (chapter 7), the designation of a cargo control room to be equipped with a fixed fire detection system (chapter 9) and revised requirements for a fixed deck foam system to be installed on vessels carrying liquid substances according to the IBC Code (chapter 14). These and other amendments to the FSS Code are expected to enter into force on 1st July 2014.
SOLAS II/17 Recovery of persons from the water

“One hand on deck, one hand for the vessel” – This is an old seaman’s saying. Nonetheless, there is always the possibility that passengers or crew fall or are swept overboard, either from one’s own, or another vessel. Consequently every ship must be ready and able to assist in this situation. This requirement is reflected in the new SOLAS III/17, which mandates that ships have a plan and procedure on board to recover persons from the water. In addition there are guidelines for the development of such plans and procedures. The requirement will apply to all ships from 1st July 2014. The guidelines incorporate the plans and procedures into paragraph 8 of the ISM Code (Part A: Emergency Preparedness).

Ships which are exempted from SOLAS III will also be covered by a resolution.

Covering the issue from another point of view, the revised MSC circular for cold water survival was also approved.

SOLAS III/19 Enclosed space entry
Entering into enclosed spaces is always a risk. Good training is one of the preparations to minimise the risk of accidents. So MSC 91 approved, for final adoption at MSC 92, amendments to SOLAS Reg III/19 on emergency training and drills. Crew members with enclosed space entry or even rescue responsibilities will be required to participate in an enclosed space entry and rescue drill at least once every two months.

Goal Based Standards
The MSC continued its work on goal-based standards. They developed draft guidelines for the approval of equivalents and alternatives. The work on the guidelines will continue in a correspondence group. Member States and interested organisations were invited to submit comments on the safety level approach elements at the next session.

With regard to other issues arising from reports of IMO subcommittees, the MSC adopted amendments to update the performance standard for protective coatings for dedicated seawater ballast tanks in all types of ships and double skin spaces of bulk carriers. Furthermore the performance standard for protective coatings for cargo oil tankers was adopted. Reference is made to MSC.215(82) and MSC.288(87). Both are mandatory under SOLAS.

IBC Code
The Code for Construction and Equipment of Ships carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code) was also amended. Changes were made to chapters 17 (liquid substances), 18 (hazardous liquids) and chapter 19 (products), with new substances being added.

Covering the operational safety of vessels the International Safety Management Code (ISM) is well known. The MSC has now approved amendments to improve their user friendliness and efficiency. There will be changes to the foreword clarifying some of the Code’s intentions and some further amendments. The changes will be circulated to all contracting governments with a view to adoption by MSC 92.

The issue of Formal Safety Assessment (FSA) was discussed during the committee meeting. They approved a circular on the Revised Guidelines for Formal Safety Assessment (FSA) and a circular on Guidelines for the application of Human Element Analysing Process (HEAP) for use in the IMO rule making process.
Forms of certificates

The amendments to the appendix of the annex to SOLAS are expected enter into force on 1 July 2014. Several forms of certificates and records of equipment were revised and will be amended, including the forms for the Cargo Ship Safety Construction Certificate and the Cargo Ship Safety Equipment Certificate.

Passenger Ship Safety
Responding to the Costa Concordia incident in January 2012 the issue of passenger ship safety is an ongoing topic. The committee agreed on a revised circular on recommended operational measures. Voluntary measures are already in place, such as:

(1) carrying additional lifejackets at places other than cabins
(2) the adequacy of the dissemination and communication of the emergency instructions for passengers
(3) carrying out the muster for passengers prior to departure if passengers are scheduled to be on board for more than 24 hours
(4) limiting access to the bridge
(5) ensuring that the voyage is in accordance with the voyage plan
(6) enhancement of emergency instructions to passengers (adding the instructions on the timing to put on a life jacket and confirmation of escape routes)
(7) recording the nationalities of passengers and crews
(8) carrying out the drills for crews to be prepared for the rescue boat embarkation of passengers.

The MSC approved a draft amendment to SOLAS regulation III/19 to require musters of newly embarked passengers prior to or immediately upon departure, instead of “within 24 hours”, as stated in the current regulations. The draft amendment will now be circulated with a view to adoption, at the next session, MSC 92, in June 2013.

With regard to training for seafarers, the MSC 91 approved revised Guidelines on the Medical Examination of Seafarers (STCW.7/Circ.19) and approved a STCW.7 circular providing Guidance on Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) Training. Both were discussed in detail at the last STW committee meeting in May 2012. If you want to learn more about specific training requirements, please feel free to contact your GL Academy.

Piracy is still an ongoing subject of concern in the maritime world, although the MSC 91 reviewed the latest statistics and observed a downward trend in the incidences of piracy and armed robbery. However, many seafarers are still being held hostage in Somalia, some of them for more than two years. The committee also noted the increasing number of incidents in the Gulf of Guinea.

Many shipping companies are now hiring armed security guards for the protection of their vessels. Consequently the International Organisation for Standardization has developed a new ISO PAS 28007 for Private Maritime Security Companies. One quality criteria that should be checked before working with one of these companies is whether the guards have adequate maritime knowledge in addition to their military knowledge.

GL Academy has the experience of undertaking a number of tailor-made programs supplying the necessary shipping knowledge to armed guards; making them aware of on board routines, procedures and requirements. Please contact us for details.

EEDI guidelines
The Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) in its 64th session approved interim guidelines for determining the minimum propulsion power required to maintain the manoeuvrability of ships in adverse conditions. The interim guidelines, which were disseminated as MSC-MEPC.2/Circ.11, can be used from the entry into force of the EEDI regulations on 1 January 2013 until the finalised guidelines are available.

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A summary of all amendments from the latest IMO meeting will be available soon in our seminar “Latest Amendments”. Look out for new dates from January 2013 onward.

Source: GL Academy

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