Categories: Business, International Maritime OrganisationPublished On: 09.05.2018615 words3.1 min read


IMO's Maritime Safety Committee to begin looking at autonomous vessels

Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) meets for its 99th session 16-25 May, with an IMO Forum on 15 May.


The MSC will be preceded on Tuesday 15 May, 15:00 London time, by the World Maritime Day Forum 2018: “IMO’s role in the future of shipping and international trade”Moderator: Richard Clayton;  Panellists: H.E. Kweku Ofori Asiamah; Peter Thomson; Xiaojie Zhang; Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen; Leo Ruijs; Diane Gilpin; and Alan McKinnon. Please Email [email protected] if you wish to attend the Forum as media.

Highlights include:

Regulatory scoping exercise on Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships
The MSC will begin looking at how the safe, secure and environmentally sound operation of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) may be introduced in IMO instruments. The work at this session is expected to focus on the framework of the regulatory exercise (e.g. instruments to be considered) and a plan of work.

Adoption of amendments 
The MSC is expected to adopt, inter-alia, amendments to the following instruments:


  • Amendments to SOLAS regulations II-1/1 and II-1/8-1, concerning the computerized stability support for the master in case of flooding for existing passenger ships. Also set for approval are related Guidelines on operational information for masters in case of flooding for passenger ships constructed before 1 January 2014.
  • Amendments to SOLAS chapter IV, replacing all references to “Inmarsat” with references to a “recognized mobile satellite service” and consequential amendments to the 1994 and 2000 HSC Codes and the 2008 SPS Code.

International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code

  • Amendments to update the Code in line with the latest recommendations from the  United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, which sets the basic requirements for all transport modes. The amendments include new provisions regarding IMO type 9 tank, a set of new abbreviations for segregation groups and special provisions for carriage of lithium batteries and of vehicles powered by flammable liquid or gas.

Polar Code – second phase  
The International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code) entered into force in 2017 under both the SOLAS and MARPOL treaties. The MSC is expected to consider how the Polar Code provisions might be applied in the future to non-SOLAS vessels, including cargo ships of less than 500 gross tonnage, fishing vessels and pleasure yachts, with a view to instructing the Ship Design and Construction (SDC) Sub-Committee.

Piracy and armed robbery against ships
The MSC will receive an update on reported incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships. IMO received reports of 203 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships worldwide in 2017, the lowest for over 20 years, confirming the current downward year on year trend, with a reduction of about 8% at the global level. In the Gulf of Guinea, the number of incidents reported to the Organization decreased last year to 48 incidents, against 62 in 2016. However, in the first four months of 2018, the number of incidents significantly increased in the region, with 36 incidents reported, against 17 in the same period in 2017.  Piracy and armed robbery remain active threats and Governments and the shipping industry need to maintain their guard.

Adoption/approval of guidance and guidelines
The MSC is expected to:

  • Adopt new and amended ships’ routeing measures: in the Bering Sea and Bering Strait, aimed at reducing the risks of incidents – the first measures to be adopted in IMO for the Arctic region since the Polar Code entered into force on 1 January 2017; a traffic separation scheme and other routeing measures In Dangan Channel (China) and  In the vicinity of Kattegat (Denmark and Sweden); and Area to be avoided Off the coast of Ghana in the Atlantic Ocean (Ghana).
  • Approve Guidelines for wing-in-ground (WIG) craft, to apply to WIG craft carrying more than 12 passengers and/or having a full load displacement of more than 10 tonnes.