Skip to content
Current Issue

Developments in Maritime Safety 2020

A significant part of ICS resources is dedicated to representing the global industry on a range of complex technical issues covered by the IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) of IMO’s 174 Member States, and its numerous technical Sub Committees and Correspondence Groups.

Tug boat guiding a Container Ship

The IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) meeting scheduled for May 2020 was postponed due to COVID-19, but has now been rescheduled as a virtual meeting in November 2020.

Key agenda items include: the ongoing regulatory scoping exercise for the use of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS); development of further measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of fuel oil; new goal based ship construction standards; and measures to improve domestic ferry safety.

Some additional specific safety issues include IMO work on Interim Guidelines for Determining Minimum Propulsion Power to Maintain the Manoeuvrability of Ships in Adverse Conditions (in the context of IMO work on CO2 emission reduction). ICS submitted a document to the MEPC meeting, which will now be held in November 2020, to help IMO to finalise these minimum power guidelines, either by completing work started by the EU funded SHOPERA study or alternatively by retaining the current interim guidelines as the final and definitive guidelines.

to the world fleet would be around US$ 500 million. ICS has therefore co-sponsored a submission to IMO rejecting the proposal from ECC.

Meanwhile, in response to a proposed revision to the Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) Guidance from the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA), ICS made a submission to the IMO NCSR Sub Committee, which met in February 2020, addressing safety concerns around voluntary VTS outside of territorial waters.

With regard to anchoring equipment, ICS is participating in a Joint Industry Working Group which is addressing mismatches between the design criteria utilised and the reality of the operations being undertaken, which raises a significant safety concern.

With respect to rules governing Life-Saving Appliances (LSA), a number of proposed changes to LSA were considered by the IMO Sub Committee on Safety Systems and Equipment (SSE) which met in March 2020. All of these issues have been discussed by the Industry Lifeboat Group (ILG), which continues to be chaired by ICS.

ICS continues to lead representation of shipowner interests on a wide range of detailed technical issues in
preparation for the resumption of IMO Committee meetings in Autumn 2020

Navigational safety

With respect to navigational safety issues, ICS participated in the development of a proposal to revise IMO Guidance on Places of Refuge for Ships in Need of Assistance which was submitted to the IMO Sub Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR) in February 2020.

Other important issues include the introduction of 5G. The Electronic Communications Committee (ECC) – which develops electronic communications policies at the European level – wishes to agree to the sale of bandwidth which includes that currently used by the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), which could interfere with use of GMDSS in proximity to shore base stations. The ECC is proposing that all vessels replace equipment to mitigate any interference. However, new type-approved equipment does not currently exist and the collective cost

Cargo safety
In response to a concerning spate of containership fires, an ICS Container Panel working group has been established and, in conjunction with other industry associations and governments, ICS has made submissions to IMO in support of a holistic approach to the issue, rather than simply amending current SOLAS regulations on fire-fighting equipment.

Ship powered by Natural Gas

ICS continues to be actively engaged at the IMO Sub Committee on the Carriage of Cargoes and Containers. This includes work to amend the definition of Group A cargoes in the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (MSBC Code) to include phenomena other than liquefaction; ammonium nitrate based fertilizer reclassification (a topical issue following the tragic onshore explosion which destroyed much of Beirut in August 2020); amendments to the Code of Safe Practice for Cargo Stowage and Securing with regard to weather dependent lashing; and changes to container inspections with respect to the misdeclaration of cargoes.