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The IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) has just completed its 89th session held at the organization’s London headquarters. The session consisted of a packed agenda, however MSC reports that they successfully completed all items originally laid out including the development of interim guidance on the employment of privately contracted armed security personnel on board ships transiting the high-risk piracy area, the adoption of amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) concerning lifeboat release hooks, an agreement on the way forward with regard to the implementation of the Torremolinos Protocol on fishing vessel safety and the approval of a number of draft resolutions for submission to the IMO Assembly, to be held in November 2011.
Below is a brief summary of just a few of the items on the agenda. You can find the full review on the IMO website HERE.
Piracy and armed robbery against ships
The meeting approved MSC Circulars on Interim Guidance to shipowners, ship operators, and shipmasters on the use of privately contracted armed security personnel on board ships when transiting the High Risk Area, and Interim recommendations for flag States on the use of privately contracted armed security personnel on board ships when transiting the High Risk Area. These interim Circulars provide considerations on the use of privately contracted armed security personnel if and when a flag State determines that such a measure would be appropriate and lawful. They are not intended to endorse or institutionalize their use and do not represent any change of policy by the Organization in this regard.
The MSC also approved Guidelines to assist in the investigation of the crimes of piracy and armed robbery against ships, and adopted a resolution on the Implementation of Best Management Practice Guidance. (See Briefing 27/2011 )
Adoption of SOLAS amendments – lifeboat release mechanisms
The MSC adopted a new paragraph 5 of SOLAS regulation III/1 to require lifeboat on-load release mechanisms not complying with new International Life-Saving Appliances (LSA) Code requirements to be replaced no later than the first scheduled dry-docking of the ship after 1 July 2014 but, in any case, not later than 1 July 2019.
The SOLAS amendment, which is expected to enter into force on 1 January 2013, is intended to establish new, stricter, safety standards for lifeboat release and retrieval systems, aimed at preventing accidents during lifeboat launching, and will require the assessment and possible replacement of a large number of lifeboat release hooks.
The Committee also adopted Guidelines for evaluation of and replacement of lifeboat release and retrieval systems and related amendments to the LSA Code and associated amendments to the Revised recommendation on testing of life-saving appliances (resolution MSC.81(70)).
Member governments were encouraged to initiate, at the earliest opportunity, approval processes for new on-load release and retrieval systems that comply with the amendments to the LSA Code.
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