IMO issues summary of MSC 100

Paul Gunton
Paul Gunton

17 December 2018

A summary of the outcomes from last week’s well attended (see heading photo) 100th meeting of IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 100) underlines the importance of its discussions about autonomous ships while providing an overview of other topics covered during the week.

Importantly, it adds more detail to its plans to integrate maritime autonomous surface ships into IMO’s various conventions than could be included in our report yesterday about the working group that has been set up to explore this topic.

The summary lists what MSC has defined as four ‘degrees of autonomy’ that will categorise autonomous ships based on the level of automation installed in a vessel and explains that, for each instrument related to maritime safety and security, and for each degree of autonomy, provisions will be identified which:

  • apply to MASS and prevent MASS operations; or
  • apply to MASS and do not prevent MASS operations and require no actions; or
  • apply to MASS and do not prevent MASS operations but may need to be amended or clarified, and/or may contain gaps; or
  • have no application to MASS operations.

IMO’s summary also mentions discussions about safety concerns surrounding the fuel sulphur limit die to come into effect in 2020, which were covered by ShipInsight earlier this week.

Another technical topic detailed in the summary include notes about which recognised organisations have passed its audits to confirm that they continue to conform with goal-based ship construction standards. All but one member of IACS is included, the exception being DMV GL, “a classification society formed as the result of a merger between DNV and GL, which would be subject to a re-verification audit of its rules,” the summary notes.

MSC 100 also considered the initial verification audit report of a further recognised organisation, the Turkish class society Türk Loydu, and confirmed that its construction rules conform to goal-based standards.

As a result of these audits, however, MSC adopted revised guidelines for verification of conformity with goal-based ship construction standards for bulk carriers and oil tankers, to come into effect on 1 January 2020, one year after adoption.

Other points covered in the summary include revised guidelines on fatigue, which were approved. These provide comprehensive information on the causes and consequences of fatigue, and the risks it poses to the safety and health of seafarers, operational safety, security and protection of the marine environment.

Safety of ships operating in polar waters was also discussed and a ‘roadmap’ was agreed on how to develop mandatory and/or recommendatory measures for ships operating in polar waters that are not currently covered by the Polar Code. Revisions to SOLAS and/or the Polar Code could be considered for adoption in 2022.

Amendments to the SPS Code and the STCW Code were adopted but draft amendments to the ESP Code were deferred until MSC 101, pending further work. Approvals were given for a number of draft amendments, guidance and guidelines, all of which are listed in the summary.