IMO moves forward on autonomous ships, e-navigation standardsJun 20, 2019 01:09 PM
The Maritime Safety Committee adopts a long list of guidelines and amendments
The following is text of a news release from the International Maritime Organization (IMO):
(LONDON) — The IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) adopted the following guidelines and amendments to the SOLAS Convention, and to codes mandatory under the convention, at its meeting June 5-14:
Interim guidelines for maritime autonomous surface ship (MASS) trials approved
Among other things, the guidelines say that trials should be conducted in a manner that provides at least the same degree of safety, security and protection of the environment as provided by the relevant instruments. Risks associated with the trials should be appropriately identified and measures to reduce the risks, to as low as reasonably practicable and acceptable, should be put in place.
Onboard or remote operators of MASS should be appropriately qualified for operating MASS subject to the trial. Any personnel involved in MASS trials, whether remote or onboard, should be appropriately qualified and experienced to safely conduct MASS trials. Appropriate steps should be taken to ensure sufficient cyber risk management of the systems and infrastructure used when conducting MASS trials.
The MSC made progress with the scoping exercise to look at how the safe, secure and environmentally sound operation of MASS may be introduced in IMO instruments.
A working group met during the session and terms of reference were agreed for an intersessional working group to be held in September 2019 to continue the work. The first step is underway – identifying, in the relevant treaties, provisions 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.
Once the first step is completed, a second step will be conducted to analyse and determine the most appropriate way of addressing MASS operations, taking into account, inter alia, human element, technology and operational factors. The analysis will identify the need for: equivalences as provided for by the instruments or developing interpretations; and/or amending existing instruments; and/or developing new instruments; or none of the above as a result of the analysis.
The intersessional working group (meeting in September 2019) has been tasked with considering the results of the first step; considering how the outcome of the second step should be reported to MSC 102; based on a high-level discussion on the gaps, themes and/or relevant findings identified during the first step, providing guidance to Member States for use in the second step; and providing a report to MSC 102 (May 2020).
Goal-based standards – revised generic guidelines approved
The MSC approved revised generic guidelines for developing IMO goal based standards (MSC.1/ Circ.1394/Rev.2), taking into account experience gained by the Subcommittee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE) in applying the generic guidelines in order to develop draft goals and functional requirements in relation to onboard lifting appliances and anchor handling winches.
IMO has increasingly been applying a goal-based approach to the development of new requirements.
In 2010, IMO adopted the goal-based ship construction standards for bulkers and oil tankers (GBS). These so-called “rules for rules” require that rules for the design and construction of bulk carriers and oil tankers of a recognized organization or administration need to meet the IMO GBS. As of mid-2019, a total 13 Recognized Organizations (ROs) have undergone successful initial verification of compliance with the IMO GBS, by IMO GBS audit teams.
Safety of ships in polar waters – navigation equipment guidance and draft resolution approved
The MSC approved 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.
This is expected to be an important tool in support of the implementation of the mandatory Polar Code. IMO’s Polar Code helps ensure that ships operating in the harsh Arctic and Antarctic areas take into account extremes of temperature and that critical equipment remains operational under those conditions.
The MSC also approved interim guidelines on life-saving appliances and arrangements for ships operating in polar waters.
The committee approved a draft assembly resolution urging member states to implement, on a voluntary basis, safety measures of the Polar Code on ships not certified under the SOLAS Convention. The draft resolution will be submitted to the IMO Assembly in late 2019 for adoption.
The Polar Code is mandatory for certain ships under the SOLAS and MARPOL Conventions. While SOLAS Chapter V (safety of navigation) applies to all ships on all voyages (with some specific exceptions), the other chapters of the convention do not apply to some categories of ships, including cargo ships of less than 500 gross tonnage; pleasure yachts not engaged in trade; and fishing vessels (sometimes termed “non-SOLAS ships”).
The Subcommittee on Navigation, Communication and Search and Rescue (NCSR) was instructed to consider the consequences and feasibility of applying chapters 9 (safety of navigation) and 11 (voyage planning) of the Polar Code to non-SOLAS ships; and to consider how best to enhance the safety of non-SOLAS ships operating in polar waters, including possible development of amendments to SOLAS and/or the Polar Code.
Oil fuel and the safety of ships – interim measures adopted
Following discussion on ship safety issues relating to the implementation of the 0.5 percent limit of the sulfur content of fuel oil (outside emission control areas) and on enhancing the safety of ships relating to the use of fuel oil, the MSC adopted a resolution providing recommended interim measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of oil fuel.
The resolution highlights existing SOLAS regulations and recognizes the need to further consider oil fuel safety issues. It recommends that SOLAS contracting governments:
• Inform the organization, for transmission to parties and member states of the organization, of all confirmed cases where oil fuel suppliers delivered oil fuel failing to meet the requirements specified in SOLAS regulation II-2/4.2.1, taking into account regulation 18.9.6 of MARPOL Annex VI;
• Take action as appropriate against oil fuel suppliers in confirmed cases of deliveries of oil fuel that does not comply with the requirements specified in SOLAS regulation II-2/4.2.1, taking into account regulation 18.9.4 of MARPOL Annex VI;
• Encourage the widest possible application of the latest edition of relevant industry standards and guidance to enhance the safety of ships related to supply and use of oil fuel; inform the organization, for transmission to parties and member states of the organization, of confirmed cases where oil fuel suppliers had delivered fuel that jeopardized the safety of ships or personnel; or adversely affected the performance of the machinery.
The MSC also endorsed an action plan to further consider measures relating to the flashpoint of oil fuel, with a view to finalizing such measures by MSC 104 (2021).
The MSC established a Correspondence Group on Oil Fuel Safety, to:
• Further consider the development of mandatory requirements regarding the reporting of confirmed cases where oil fuel suppliers have failed to meet the flashpoint requirements of the organization, taking into account that feedback should also be provided to the supplier;
• Further consider the development of mandatory requirements to ensure SOLAS contracting governments take action as appropriate against oil fuel suppliers in confirmed cases of deliveries of oil fuel that does not comply with the requirements specified in SOLAS regulation II-2/4.2.1, taking into account regulation 18.9.4 of MARPOL Annex VI;
• Further consider the development of mandatory requirements regarding the documentation of the flashpoint of the actual fuel batch when bunkering, providing a statement that the oil fuel delivered complies with SOLAS regulation II-2/4.2.1;
• Further consider the development of guidelines for ships to address situations where they have indicative test results suggesting that the oil fuel supplied may not comply with SOLAS regulation II 2/4.2.1;
• Collect information on possible measures related to oil fuel parameters other than flashpoint; and
• Submit a report to MSC 102.
The 0.5 percent limit (reduced from 3.5 percent currently) on the sulfur content of ships’ fuel oil, in force from Jan. 1, 2020 under IMO’s MARPOL treaty, will greatly benefit the environment and human health.
The MSC concurrently approved an MSC-MEPC circular (already approved by MEPC 74) on delivery of compliant fuel oil by suppliers.
Piracy and armed robbery against ships
The MSC noted the latest figures on piracy and armed robbery against ships based on reports received by IMO.
In 2018, 223 incidents occurred worldwide as compared to 204 incidents reported in 2017, an increase of about 9 percent at the global level. So far in 2019, incidents in West and Central African waters have accounted for about half of all reported incidents.
The MSC reminded companies, masters and seafarers to continue the diligent application of existing IMO guidance and the revised best management practices (BMP) guidance as well as the new Global Counter Piracy Guidance and the updated guidance for protection against piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea region contained in MSC.1/Circ.1601 on revised industry counterpiracy guidance.
The MSC also invited member states to continue to provide naval assets; and flag states to continue to monitor the threat to ships flying their flag and set appropriate security levels in accordance with the ISPS Code.
Activities to support capacity building in the Gulf of Guinea were noted. It was also noted that the IMO Secretariat is an active participant in the international Friends of the Gulf of Guinea (FoGG) group under the G7++ framework. This group is open to all interested member states, NGOs and IGOs.
The MSC approved 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 approved/adopted:
• 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 which will enhance situational 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.
* Amendments to the performance standards for the presentation of navigation-related information on shipborne navigational displays (resolution MSC.191(79)). The implementation date of the revised standard for shipborne navigational displays on the bridge of a ship for radar equipment, ECDIS and INS should be Jan. 1, 2024; and for all other navigational displays on the bridge of a ship July 1, 2025.
• 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.
• 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-related information and data exchanged as part of different maritime services are implemented internationally in a harmonized, standardized and unified format. All maritime services should be conformant with the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) S-100 framework standard, which specifies the method for data modeling and developing product specifications.
• 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 of maritime services include, inter alia, vessel traffic service information, navigational assistance, traffic organization, maritime safety information, pilotage, tugs, vessel shore reporting, telemedical assistance, local port information, nautical charts and publications, ice navigation, meteorological, hydrographic and environmental information and search and rescue. These are expected to be periodically updated, taking into account developments and related work on harmonization being conducted in collaboration with other international organizations, such as International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA), the International Maritime Pilots Association (IMPA) and the International Harbour Masters Association (IHMA).
Domestic ferry safety put on the agenda
Taking into consideration the ongoing occurrence of passenger ferry incidents with often high numbers of casualties, the MSC agreed to include a new item on measures to improve domestic ferry safety on its agenda for the next session (with an estimated four sessions needed to complete the work).
This work will focus on developing model regulations on domestic ferry safety; providing guidance on the incorporation of model regulations on domestic ferry safety in domestic law; developing online training material on domestic ferry safety; and continuing to provide technical assistance to countries in need through the organization’s Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP).
Approval of other draft amendments, guidance and guidelines
• Adopted amendments to the Safety Certificate and the Record of Equipment for the Special Purpose Ship (SPS) Safety Certificate of the Code of Safety for Special Purpose Ships (SPS Code).
• Adopted amendments to the Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (BCH Code), to update in line with corresponding amendments to the IBC Code.
• Adopted performance standards for float-free emergency position-indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs) operating on 406 MHz, which are proposed to be applicable to float-free EPIRBs operating on the frequency 406 MHz installed on or after three years from the date of their adoption by MSC 101 in June 2019. The performance standards include, inter alia, requirements for EPIRBs to be provided with an automatic identification system (AIS) locating signal and consolidate type approval provisions.
• Adopted new traffic separation schemes (TSSs) and associated routing measures and of precautionary areas with recommended directions of traffic flow in the Sunda and Lombok Straits, Indonesia, to minimize the risk of collision between ships and grounding.
• Adopted amendments to the recommendations on navigation through the English Channel and the Dover Strait (resolution A.475(XII), related to the termination of the voluntary movement ship reporting system MAREP.
• Approved a procedure for the submission of documents containing proposals for the establishment of, or amendments to, ships’ routing systems or ship reporting systems.
• Approved amendments to update the guidelines on annual testing of voyage data recorders (VDR) and simplified voyage data recorders (S-VDR) (MSC.1/Circ.1222), clarifying the examination of float-free capsules approved in accordance with resolution MSC.333(90).
• Approved interim guidelines for minimizing the incidence and consequences of fires in ro-ro spaces and special category spaces of new and existing ro-ro passenger ships.
• Approved revised guidelines on alternative design and arrangements for SOLAS chapters II-1 and III.
• Approved, in relation to the Long-Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) of ships, amendments to MSC.1/Circ.1376/Rev.3 on continuity of service plan for the LRIT system and MSC.1/Circ.1259/Rev.7 on LRIT system – Technical documentation (Part I) and approved a revision of the principles and guidelines relating to the review and audit of the performance of LRIT Data Centres and the International LRIT Data Exchange (MSC.1/Circ.1412/Rev.1).
• Approved the IMO position on maritime radiocommunication matters for submission to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19), to be held in November 2019.
• Approved amendments to Maritime Safety Information (MSI)-related instruments to accommodate amendments to SOLAS adopted in 2018 (entering into force on Jan. 1, 2020), in connection to new mobile satellite services recognized by IMO to be used in the global maritime distress and safety system (GMDSS), and allow the broadcast of MSI to a defined geographical area through those newly recognized services, in addition to the existing Inmarsat services (MSI includes navigational and meteorological warnings, meteorological forecasts and other urgent safety-related messages broadcast to ships). The amendments relate to: Revised International SafetyNET Manual (MSC.1/Circ.1364/Rev.1), Promulgation of maritime safety information (resolution A.705(17), as amended), World-Wide Navigational Warning Service (resolution A.706(17), as amended), IMO/WMO Worldwide Met-Ocean Information and Warning Service guidance document (resolution A.1051(27)).
• Approved interim guidance on technical requirements for Fleet Safety, a new enhanced group calling service provided by Inmarsat for use in the GMDSS in the coverage area under the Inmarsat-4 Middle East and Asia (MEAS) region satellite.
• Agreed to circulate an interim Iridium SafetyCast service manual providing information on Iridium’s enhanced group calling service for use in the GMDSS, to be taken into account when conducting system trials and tests until a final text of the manual is approved by the Subcommittee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR).
• Agreed to hold the fourth session of the Joint FAO/ILO/IMO Ad Hoc Working Group on IUU Fishing and Related Matters (JWG 4), from Oct. 23-25, 2019 directly after the Ministerial Conference on Fishing Vessel Safety and IUU Fishing, in Torremolinos, Spain, from Oct. 21-23, 2019.