IMO'S MSC Meeting Preview


Published May 29, 2019 6:29 PM by The Maritime Executive

The IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), 101st session, will take place June 5-14, 2019, and some of the highlights include amendments to SOLAS:

The MSC is expected to consider, for adoption:

• Draft amendments to the appendix to SOLAS, to the record of equipment, relating to rudder, propeller, thrust, pitch and operational mode indicator.
• Draft amendments to the International Code for Fire Safety Systems (FSS Code), relating to inert gas systems. 
• Draft amendments to the International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other low-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code), including those relating to regulations on loading limit for liquefied gas fuel tanks, regulations for fuel distribution outside of machinery space, regulations for internal combustion engines of piston type and fire protection for fuel storage hold space; and amendments relating to the protection of the fuel supply for liquefied gas fuel tanks, aimed at preventing explosions. 
• Draft amendments to the International Life-Saving Appliances Code (LSA Code), relating to general requirements for lifeboats and launching and embarkation appliances.  
• A comprehensive set of draft amendments to the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code), including the revised chapters 17 (Summary of minimum requirements), 18 (List of products to which the code does not apply), 19 (Index of Products Carried in Bulk) and 21 (Criteria for assigning carriage requirements for products subject to the IBC Code). Consequential amendments to the Code for the construction and equipment of ships carrying dangerous chemicals in bulk (BCH Code) are also set to be adopted. 
• The draft consolidated edition of the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (IMSBC Code), incorporating amendment 05-19. The 2019 amendments include updates to various schedules, such as new individual schedule for BAUXITE FINES as a Group A cargo, as well as editorial amendments. The amendments are incorporated into a consolidated IMSBC Code, to include all amendments to date, since the IMSBC Code was first adopted in 2008.    

Regulatory scoping exercise on Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships

The MSC will be updated on progress with the scoping exercise to look at how the safe, secure and environmentally sound operation of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) may be introduced in IMO instruments.

The Committee is also expected to consider proposals related to the development of interim guidelines for MASS trials. Provisional principles for the development of such guidelines were discussed during the last session, including ensuring that such guidelines should be generic and goal-based, and taking a precautionary approach to ensuring the safe, secure and environmentally sound operation of MASS.

Safety of ships in polar waters

The MSC is expected to approve draft guidance for navigation and communication equipment intended for use on ships operating in polar waters. The guidance includes recommendations on temperature and mechanical shock testing, and on how to address ice accretion and battery performance in cold temperatures.

The Committee will also further consider how to move forward with developing requirements for ships operating in polar waters but not currently covered by the Polar Code. A proposed draft Assembly resolution urging Member States to take steps, on a voluntary basis, to implement safety measures of the Polar Code on non-SOLAS ships will be considered by the MSC. If agreed, it could go forward to the IMO Assembly in late 2019 for adoption. 

E-navigation progress

The MSC is expected to approve a number of circulars related to the development of e-navigation. E-navigation is defined as "the harmonized collection, integration, exchange, presentation and analysis of marine information on board and ashore by electronic means to enhance berth to berth navigation and related services for safety and security at sea and protection of the marine environment". An updated IMO e-navigation Strategy Implementation Plan (SIP) was approved by MSC 99 in May 2018 (MSC.1/Circ.1595). 

The MSC is expected to approve:

• Draft MSC circular on Guidelines for the standardization of user interface design for navigation equipment. The aim is to promote improved standardization of the user interface and information used by seafarers to monitor, manage and perform navigational tasks will enhance situation awareness and improve safety of navigation. The guidelines, including icons, apply to Integrated Navigation Systems (INS), Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS) and Radar equipment, and they may be applied to other electronic navigation equipment where applicable, improving standardization and usability.
• Draft amendments to the Performance standards for the presentation of navigation-related information on shipborne navigational displays (resolution MSC.191(79)), including implementation dates, for radar equipment, electronic chart display and information systems (ECDIS) and integrated navigation systems (INS). The implementation date of the revised standard should be January 1, 2024; and for all other navigational displays on the bridge of a ship July 1, 2025.
• Draft SN.1/Circ.243/Rev.2 to update the Guidelines for the presentation of navigational-related symbols, terms and abbreviations, which provide guidance on the appropriate use of navigation-related symbols to achieve a harmonized and consistent presentation.
• Draft MSC resolution on Guidance on the definition and harmonization of the format and structure of Maritime Services in the context of e navigation. The purpose of the guidance is to ensure that Maritime Services are implemented internationally in a standardized and harmonized format. All Maritime Services should be conformant with the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) S-100 framework standard, which specifies the method for data modelling and developing product specifications.
• Draft MSC circular on Initial descriptions of maritime services in the context of e-navigation. The circular includes what is intended to be the first draft of Maritime Service descriptions and is an initial contribution for the harmonization of their format and structure. The Initial descriptions are expected to be periodically updated, taking into account developments and related work on harmonization.

Domestic ferry safety

The MSC  will be invited to consider a strategy for dealing with matters pertaining to domestic ferry safety and a plan of work. This could include:

• As an initial step, consulting with stakeholders to collate best practices and tested and tried domestic legislation in order to contribute to safer domestic ferry operations; 
• Developing model regulations on domestic ferry safety;
• Developing online training material on domestic ferry safety;
• Strengthening the national capacity of some countries to incorporate of legislation into national law, through technical assistance activities.