IMO to discuss amendments to maritime safety standards

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        15 May 2014


The International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) is to adopt amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), relating to lifeboat and passenger ship safety.

The MSC is currently discussing the proposed plans at its on-going 93rd session, which will run through 23 May at IMO's London headquarters.

The meeting will consider issues relating to subdivision and damage stability, with recommendations from the Experts Group on Formal Safety Assessment report, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) study on damage stability of roll-on/roll-off passenger ships and studies from the GOAL-based Damage Stability project (GOALDS).

Among the changes likely to be approved are amendments to SOLAS chapter III, which would require operators to periodically service lifeboats and rescue boats, launch appliances and release gear.

Administrations will be required to ensure that authorised service providers carry-out proper examinations, operational testing, repairs and overhaul of equipment in compliance with SOLAS regulation III/20 on operational readiness, maintenance and inspections.

The MSC would approve an updated version of additional recommendations through its circular guidelines on safety during abandon ship drills using lifeboats.

Additionally, it is expected to establish a working group and review a long-term passenger ship safety action plan in response to recommendations arising from the Costa Concordia incident in 2012, that claimed 32 lives.

The MSC would also review a draft mandatory polar code for ships operating in polar waters, and related SOLAS amendments as well as to implement amendments to SOLAS and other treaties to make mandatory the IMO member state audit scheme and use of the IMO Instruments Implementation Code (III Code).

Other issues that will be reviewed include new traffic routing systems, guidance on the bridge navigational watch alarm system, safety guidelines for transferring persons at sea and recommendations for the development of national maritime security legislation.

The decision by the MSC comes as divers continue to recover bodies from the South Korean passenger ferry, Sewol, which capsized off the south-west coast last month, leaving more than 280 dead and 23 still missing.