Note of meeting of the IMO Maritime Safety Committee MSC99 – 16 to 25 May 2018
Author: Kim Fisher
This was an 8 day meeting of the Maritime Safety Committee under the chairmanship of Mr Bradley Groves (Australia). The Maritime Safety Committee meets three times in a two year cycle nominally for 5 days but is permitted a longer meeting when the period between meetings exceeds 6 months.
A substantive issue at the meeting concerned a regulatory scoping exercise for the use of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS). This was new work which was progressed in a Working Group. A framework was developed including the aim and objective, the preliminary definition of MASS and degrees of autonomy, the list of mandatory regulations to be considered and the applicability in terms of type and size of ships. This will be further developed by a correspondence group for the next meeting.
A further Working Group discussed the issue of safety measures for non-SOLAS ships operating in polar waters as an extension to the Polar Code. This proved to be a difficult topic and will be further discussed at the next meeting. Meanwhile the Sub-committee on Ship Design and Construction (SDC) was tasked with developing recommendatory safety measures for fishing vessels over 24 m in length and pleasure yachts over 300 gross tonnage.
Limited changes to Chapter IV (Radiocommunications) of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) to replace references to “Inmarsat” by “recognized mobile satellite service” were adopted to enter into force on 1 January 2020. This facilitates the introduction of other satellite operators to provide Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) services. The Iridium system had been proposed for recognition and after some debate this was agreed. Further work on its implementation will be carried out by the International Maritime Satellite Organization (IMSO). An initial application for the BeiDou messaging service to be recognised as a further service was accepted.
New work items were agreed for the Japanese Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) to be considered as a future component of the World-Wide Radionavigation System (WWRNS) and for a revision of the guidelines for Vessel Traffic Services.
The workload of the Sub-committee on Navigation Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR) was discussed as it has been proving difficult to achieve all the work. This resulted in a proposal to extend the length of the meeting from 5 to 8 days for the next two years.
The next meeting of MSC is scheduled to take place from 3 to 7 December 2018. A meeting of the Joint IMO/ITU Experts Group is planned for 3 to 7 September 2018 and a meeting of the ICAO/IMO Joint working group is planned for 17 to 21 September 2018. The meeting of the IMO/IHO Harmonization Group on Data Modelling (HGDM) is planned for 29 October to 2 November 2018. A meeting of NCSR is planned for 16 to 25 January 2019.