IMO to Toughen Passenger Safety Rules in Concordia Aftermath

The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) meets at the Organization’s London headquarters for its 93rd session, from 14 to 23 May 2014.

The MSC is expected to adopt amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) related to lifeboat safety; continue its action plan of work on passenger ship safety, following the Costa Concordia incident; review the draft mandatory Polar Code and related draft SOLAS amendments; adopt amendments to SOLAS and other treaties to make mandatory the IMO Member State Audit Scheme; adopt a number of other important amendments; and consider items submitted by the sub-committees.

Lifeboat safety: SOLAS amendments set to be adopted
The MSC is expected to adopt draft amendments to SOLAS chapter III to make mandatory the Requirements for periodic servicing and maintenance of lifeboats and rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear, which are also expected to be adopted at the session. The MSC is also expected to approve a related draft MSC circular on Guidelines on safety during abandon ship drills using lifeboats, providing additional recommendatory provisions.

The package of mandatory and recommendatory measures follows work by IMO to review recommendations previously issued (MSC.1/Circ.1206/Rev.1 on Measures to prevent accidents with lifeboats and MSC.1/Circ.1277 on Interim Recommendation on conditions for authorization of service providers for lifeboats, launching appliances and on-load release gear), which were themselves developed as part of long-standing work on measures to prevent accidents with lifeboats.

The draft amendments to SOLAS regulation III/20 on Operational readiness, maintenance and inspections introduce requirements for the periodic servicing of lifeboats, rescue boats and fast rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear to be carried out in accordance with the adopted requirements for periodic servicing and maintenance. Administrations will be required to ensure that the thorough examination, operational testing, repair, and overhaul of equipment is carried out in accordance with SOLAS regulation III/20 by authorized service providers that are qualified in these operations for each make and type of equipment for which they provide the service.

Work to continue on passenger ships safety
The MSC is expected to establish a working group to continue its work related to passenger ship safety, stemming from recommendations arising from the Costa Concordia incident. The long-term action plan on passenger ship safety will be reviewed.

Specific issues for consideration include those relating to subdivision and damage stability. The MSC will have for its consideration a number of submissions, including the report of the Experts Group on Formal Safety Assessment, incorporating the review of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) study on damage stability of ro-ro passenger ships and the reports of the GOAL based Damage Stability project (GOALDS) on collision and grounding damage statistics, probability of survival and development of a new risk-based damage stability requirement for passenger ships.

Draft mandatory Polar Code and SOLAS amendments to be considered
The MSC will be invited to consider, with a view to approval for future adoption, the draft mandatory international code for ships operating in polar waters (Polar Code), which was agreed in principle by the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction (SDC), and the proposed draft new SOLAS chapter XIV “Safety measures for ships operating in polar waters”, to make the Code (Introduction and part I-A) mandatory.


*Mandatory audit scheme of amendments to be adopted along with other amendments and issues up for consideration can be viewed here.

IMO, May 13, 2014

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