A muster drill aboard a cruise ship.

The International Maritime Organization has agreed with international cruise industry recommendations requiring passenger safety drills to take place prior to, or immediately upon, departure in the wake of the Costa Concordia incident.

From November 26th to November 30th, IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) convened for its 91st session at the Organization’s London headquarters and approved draft amendments to chapter III (Life-saving appliances and arrangements) of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) to require musters of newly embarked passengers prior to or immediately upon departure, instead of “within 24 hours”, as stated in the current regulations.

Similar policies have already been voluntarily adopted by members of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) following an internal report the cruise industry released in January and conducted in response to the Costa Concordia disaster.

The new muster policy was first made mandatory for CLIA members in February as a result of the review, called “Cruise Industry Operational Safety Review” which focused on the critical human factors and operational aspects of maritime safety.

Since then, CLIA members have also adopted policies addressing issues related to passage planning, personnel access to the bridge and lifejackets; recording of passenger nationality and the common elements of musters and emergency instructions; lifeboat loading for crew training purposes; and most recently lifejacket stowage on newly-constructed ships, the securing of heavy objects onboard ships, and the synchronization of bridge operating procedures within commonly owned and operated fleets. CLIA plans to report all recommendations to the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee.

The IMO says that the draft amendments regarding muster drills will now be circulated for consideration, with a view to adoption, at the next session, MSC 92, which is to be held in June 2013. If adopted, they could enter into force at the end of 2014.

Cruise Lines International Association is non-profit representing the interests of 26 member lines, 15,000 travel agents, and 120 executive partners, and is North America’s largest global cruise industry organization.

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