The MSC deals with all matters related to maritime safety and maritime security which fall within the scope of IMO, covering both passenger ships and all kinds of cargo ships.
This includes updating the SOLAS Convention and related codes, such as those covering dangerous goods, life-saving appliances and fire safety systems.
The MSC also deals with human element issues, including amendments to the STCW Convention on training and certification of seafarers.
The MSC has a wide range of issues on its current agenda, including goal-based standards, autonomous vessels, piracy and armed robbery against ships, cyber security, e-navigation and the modernization of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).
Here is the agenda for MSC 107:
Adoption of amendments
Safety of onboard lifting appliances and anchor handling winches
MSC is expected to adopt a new draft SOLAS regulation II-1/3-13 that covers requirements for the application, design and construction, operation, inspection, testing and maintenance of onboard lifting appliances and anchor handling winches. Two related sets of draft guidelines for lifting appliances and anchor handling winches are also set to be approved, to support the implementation of the new SOLAS regulation.
The aim of the draft regulation and the two sets of guidelines is to prevent accidents with lifting appliances and anchor handling winches, which have caused harm to operators and damage to ships, cargo, shore-based structures and subsea structures, as well as to the marine environment.
Safety measures for non-SOLAS ships operating in polar waters - Polar Code and SOLAS amendments
MSC is expected to adopt a first set of draft amendments to the Polar Code, together with associated amendments to the SOLAS Convention, to incorporate new requirements for certain non-SOLAS ships concerning safety of navigation and voyage planning. The amendments will be applicable to fishing vessels of 24 m in length overall and above, pleasure yachts of 300 GT and above not engaged in trade and cargo ships of 300 GT and above but below 500 GT.
The amendments to SOLAS chapter XIV and the Polar Code aim to enhance the safety of ships operating under the harsh conditions of the Arctic and Antarctic areas, taking especially into account extremes of temperature, and that critical equipment remains operational under those conditions.
International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code amendments
MSC is expected to adopt the latest set of amendments to the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code, following finalization by the Editorial & Technical Group. As usual, these amendments will be adopted in the form of a consolidated version of the whole IMSBC Code.
Maritime autonomous surface ships (MASS)
MSC is expected to make further progress on the development of a goal-based instrument regulating the operation of maritime autonomous surface ships (MASS), for adoption by 2025. This follows the completion of a related regulatory scoping exercise. MSC is expected to establish a MASS Working Group to further the work.
MSC will also be updated on, and take into account, the outcome of the second meeting (in April 2023) of the Joint MSC/LEG/FAL Working Group on MASS, which was established as a cross-cutting mechanism to address common issues identified by the regulatory scoping exercises for the use of MASS conducted by the Maritime Safety, Legal and Facilitation Committees.
The Joint Working Group has developed a table – intended as a living document – to identify preferred options for addressing common issues, such as the role, responsibilities competencies required of the MASS master and crew; and identification and meaning of term "remote operator" and their responsibilities.
Symposium on MASS
A Symposium on ʺMaking headway on the IMO MASS Code”, co-sponsored by IMO and the Republic of Korea, is being held on 30 May. Read more here.
Safe delivery of IMO's strategy on reduction of GHG emissions
MSC is working closely with the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) on the transition to low and zero-carbon fuels to meet the obligation to tackle climate change, in particular making sure that the safety aspects of any proposed measures are thoroughly considered.
Guidelines for sampling procedures for oil fuel
MSC is expected to continue its work on developing joint MSC‑MEPC guidelines for sampling procedures for oil fuel under both the SOLAS and MARPOL Conventions.
Guidelines for safety of ships using LPG
MSC is expected to approve draft Interim Guidelines for the safety of ships using liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and the associated draft MSC circular.
The basic philosophy of these Interim Guidelines is to provide provisions for the arrangement, installation, control and monitoring of machinery, equipment and systems using LPG as fuel to minimize the risk to the ship, its crew and the environment, having regard to the nature of the fuels involved.
The guidelines were developed by the CCC Sub-Committee, as part of the important work being carried out by the Sub-Committee in the context of shipping's need for new fuels and propulsion systems to meet decarbonisation ambitions set out in the Initial IMO GHG Strategy.
Matters related to innovative types of fuel are considered under the agenda item on the International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other Low-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code) and development of guidelines for alternative fuels and related technologies. The IGF Code, which entered into force in 2017, aims to minimize the risk to ships, their crews and the environment, given the nature of the fuels involved. The Code initially focused on liquefied natural gas (LNG), but work is now underway to also consider alternative fuel types.
Interim guidelines for the safety of ships using methyl/ethyl alcohol as fuel have already been developed by the Sub-Committee and were approved by MSC in 2020 (MSC.1/Circ.1621). Interim guidelines for ships using fuel cells were approved by MSC 105 in April 2022 (MSC.1/Circ.1647).
Proposal for regulatory assessment to support the safe delivery of IMO's strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships
MSC will consider a proposal for a new output to conduct a regulatory assessment to deliver a framework for the safe operation of new technologies and alternative fuels, aimed at reducing GHG emissions from ships, including the removal of barriers to deploy such new solutions and development of a road map to support the safe delivery of IMO's Strategy.
Maritime security, piracy and armed robbery against ships
Piracy and armed robbery against ships
MSC will consider the latest update on global trends relating to piracy and armed robbery against ships. Figures based on reports submitted to the IMO show that the global number of incidents has generally continued to fall, with 131 incidents reported in 2022 compared to 172 incidents in 2021. This is attributed to the regional and international efforts to implement the Djibouti and Yaoundé Codes of Conduct and other important regional initiatives.
Mandatory reporting of lost containers – draft SOLAS amendments
MSC will consider for approval, with a view to subsequent adoption, draft new requirements for the mandatory reporting of freight containers lost at sea.
Containers lost overboard present a serious hazard to navigation and safety at sea in general, in particular to recreational sailing yachts, fishing vessels and other smaller craft, as well as to the marine environment. The draft amendments on detection and reporting of lost containers developed by the CCC Sub-Committee are also relevant for the Organization's work on addressing marine litter.
The draft amendments to SOLAS chapter V (Safety of navigation), address in particular regulation 31 (Danger messages) and would require the master of every ship involved in the loss of freight container(s) to communicate the particulars of such an incident to ships in the vicinity, to the nearest coastal State, and also to the flag State which would be required to report the incident to IMO. The draft amendments also address regulation 32 (Information required in danger messages), specifying the information to be reported, including position, number of containers, etc.
Related draft amendments to the MARPOL Convention, under Article V (Reporting procedures), have also been developed, for approval and adoption by MEPC.
MSC will also consider a proposal for a new output on a holistic approach to the prevention of the loss of containers at sea.
Certification and training for fishers – revised 1995 STCW-F Convention set for approval
MSC is expected to approve, for subsequent adoption, the revised and updated International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCW-F) adopted in 1995.
The 1995 STCW-F Convention is a binding treaty that sets certification and minimum training requirements for crews of fishing vessels with the aim to promote safety of life at sea and protection of the marine environment, taking into account the unique nature of the fishing industry and the fishing working environment.
The STCW-F treaty eventually entered into force in 2012, 17 years after its adoption, and MSC agreed soon after to revise the treaty to bring it up to date.
The review, completed by the Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW), updates and amends the provisions in the Convention. Competencies have been transferred to an associated new mandatory Code, the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCW-F) Code.
The STCW-F Convention supports harmonization of qualifications by introducing a minimum level of training for everyone working on fishing vessels to which the Convention applies. This, in turn, facilitates free mobility of fishers between countries that have ratified and implemented the STCW-F Convention and creates a level playing field in the sector.
STCW training provisions on bullying and harassment in the maritime sector, including sexual assault and sexual harassment (SASH)
MSC is expected to approve, for subsequent adoption, draft amendments to the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) Code, to prevent and respond to bullying and harassment in the maritime sector, including sexual assault and sexual harassment (SASH).
Following approval by MSC 107 and consideration by the joint ILO/IMO Tripartite Working Group to Identify and Address Seafarers' Issues and the Human Element (JTWG), the draft amendments are expected to be referred back to HTW 10 in early 2024 for final consideration, with a view to adoption at MSC 108.
The new provisions will apply to all seafarers by means of amendments to the STCW Code, table A-VI/1-4 (Specification of minimum standard of competence in personal safety and social responsibilities), consisting of a new competence: Contribute to the prevention of and response to bullying and harassment, including sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Proposals for new work programme outputs
The MSC will consider a substantial number of proposals for new outputs at the session, including, inter-alia, the following:
comprehensive review of the International Safety Management (ISM) Code and its related guidelines
review of the 2017 Guidelines on Maritime Cyber Risk Management (MSC‑FAL.1/Circ.3/Rev.2) and identification of next steps
comprehensive review the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972
review and revision of the IMO standard marine communication phrases (resolution A.918(22))
Following work in the Sub-Committees, and consideration of their reports, MSC 107 is expected to:
Adopt amendments to the 1979, 1989 and 2009 Codes for the Construction and Equipment of Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODU Codes) to prohibit materials which contain asbestos; approve a related unified interpretation, to clarify that existing materials stowed on board before 1 January 2024 are not prohibited from being retained on board but should not be installed unless they can be documented to be asbestos-free before use/installation; and approve draft new guidelines for maintenance and monitoring of materials containing asbestos on board MODUs.
Adopt the 2023 Diving Code, which updates the Code of Safety for Diving systems (resolution A.831(19)) and the Guidelines and specifications for Hyperbaric Evacuation Systems (resolution A.692(17)) for ships of not less than 500 gross tonnage that have a diving system installed on or after 1 January 2024; and approve, for future adoption, amendments to the IGF Code, including those related to pressure relief system and provide requirements for ships constructed after 1 January 2026.
Approve, for future adoption, amendments to the International Code for the Safe Carriage of Grain in Bulk (Grain Code), introducing a new class of loading conditions for "specially suitable compartment, partly filled in way of the hatch opening, with ends untrimmed" and specify the requirements under which grain may be carried in such compartments.
Approve unified interpretations of the IGC Code, related to performance of the cargo containment system in IGC Code; and to the IGF Code, related to performance of the cargo containment system.
Approve, for future adoption, draft amendments to SOLAS Regulation II-1/3-4 (Emergency towing arrangements and procedures) to require emergency towing arrangements to be fitted on ships other than tankers of 20,000 gross tonnage and above, constructed on or after the entry into force date of the amendments. Such arrangements shall, at all times, be capable of rapid deployment in the absence of main power on the ship to be towed and easy connection to the towing ship.
Approve, for future adoption, draft amendments to the International Code on the Enhanced Programme of Inspections during Surveys of Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers, 2011 (ESP Code), relating to the procedures for approval and certification of a firm engaged in thickness measurement of hull structures contained in the Code, so as to permit Administrations to exercise the right of auditing a company conducting thickness measurement of hull structures.
Approve, for future adoption, draft amendments to the LSA Code on lowering speed of survival craft and rescue boats; lifejackets' in-water performance; and single fall and hook systems, together with consequential amendments to associated instruments.
Approve, for future adoption, draft amendments to SOLAS chapter II-2 on fire safety on ro-ro passenger ships; and fire detection within control stations and cargo control rooms, together with consequential amendments to associated instruments.
Adopt amendments to the Revised performance standards for water level detectors on ships subject to SOLAS regulations II-1/25, II-1/25-1 and XII/12 (resolution MSC.188(79)/Rev.1). The amendments aim to accurately define the measurement of the installation height of sensors.
Approve draft unified interpretations on: mooring arrangements and equipment; pressure testing after a fire test for penetrations in watertight divisions; the SOLAS chapter II-1 amendments adopted at MSC 102 and MSC 103; and the 2008 Intact Stability Code.
MSC 107 will be held in person, complemented by hybrid facilities allowing remote participation.
Time: 9.30 am to 5.30 pm London Time each weekday - breaks at 11:00-11:30; 12:30-2:30; 4:00-4:30.