Accordingly, the circular notes that principles represent a step-based approach to an informed decision-making process which respects the existing regulatory regime, and which can result in an evidencebased assessment for the justification of the extension of a certificate.
Considering that the supporting "safety net" of port State control has been temporarily suspended to some degree by some PSC regimes, and flexibility regarding extensions has been given by some flag States for ships facing difficulties in maintaining the validity of certificates, the safety and environmental protection of shipping and compliance need to be assured to the maximum extent possible.
For the purpose of the approach outlined in these guiding principles, the legal aspects permitting departure from statutory requirements to remove the legal exposure of all involved parties are considered to have been resolved by the individual flag State applying these provisions.
The role of the flag State is paramount in this statutory process as it will be the flag State's responsibility to issue clear statutory instructions and decisions to owners and recognized organizations (ROs), even where this decision-making utilizes the technical appraisal/recommendation by RO.
Therefore, the IMO provides the six steps below:
- Have all options for completing the survey and renewing the certificates (using all available means permitted by the Administration) been exhausted?
- For each case of demonstrated exceptional circumstances and/or force majeure, examine the available information on the ship and its history as a means to considering alternative evidence on the condition of the ship in lieu of completing the survey and offering a recommendation to its flag State.
- Consider how the requirements of the convention and classification rules can be shown to be met in the interim without changing the requirements themselves.
- Use verification requirements which are based on accepted survey procedures (these are bespoke to each classification society/RO).
- Consider alternative evidence for assessing compliance to account for confidence and durability.
- Concluding with an overall documented evidence on which the extension period and any service restrictions are based.
IMO has issued the following circular letters concerning COVID-19:
- Circular Letter No.4204/Add.19 (2 June 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Guidance for flag States regarding surveys and renewals of certificates during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Circular Letter No.4204/Add.18 (26 May 2020) - Joint Statement IMO-ICAO-ILO on designation of seafarers, marine personnel, fishing vessel personnel, offshore energy sector personnel, aviation personnel, air cargo supply chain personnel and service provider personnel at airports and ports as key workers, and on facilitation of crew changes in ports and airports in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic
- Circular Letter No.4204/Add.17 (21 May 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID 19) – Preparing for post COVID-19 operations: considerations and practicalities for port community systems, single window and other electronic exchange platforms
- Circular Letter No.4204/Add.16 (6 May 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID 19) – COVID-19 related guidelines for ensuring a safe shipboard interface between ship and shore-based personnel
- Circular Letter No.4204/Add.15 (6 May 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID 19) - Personal protective equipment
- Circular Letter No.4204/Add.14 (5 May 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Recommended framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
- Circular Letter No.4204/Add.13 (5 May 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Recommendations for Governments and relevant national authorities on facilitating the movement of offshore energy sector personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Circular Letter No.4204/Add.12 (27 April 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID 19) – Declaration by Port Authorities Roundtable (PAR) members in view of the global COVID-19 situation
- Circular Letter No.4204/Add.11 (24 April 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID 19) - EC Guidelines on protection of health, repatriation and travel arrangements for seafarers, passengers and other persons on board ships.
- Circular Letter No.4204/Add.10 (22 April 2020) - Joint Statement IMO-WHO-ILO on medical certificates of seafarers, ship sanitation certificates and medical care of seafarers in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Circular Letter No.4204/Add.9 (16 April 2020) - Joint Statement IMO-WCO on the integrity of the global supply chain during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Circular Letter No.4204/Add.8 (14 April 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Video meeting with port State control (PSC) regimes (includes joint statement and statements and/or relevant temporary guidance issued by the United States, the Acuerdo de Viña del Mar and the Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Paris and Tokyo MOUs
- Circular Letter No.4204/Add.7 (3 April 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Guidance concerning unforeseen delays in the delivery of ships
- Circular Letter No.4204/Add.6 (27 March 2020) Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Preliminary list of recommendations for Governments and relevant national authorities on the facilitation of maritime trade during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Circular Letter No.4204/Add.5 (17 March 2020) Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Guidance relating to the certification of seafarers
- Circular Letter No.4204/Add.4 (5 March 2020) contains ICS Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for ship operators for the protection of the health of seafarers
- Circular Letter No.4204/Add.3 (2 March 2020) - Operational considerations for managing COVID-19 cases/outbreak on board ships
- Circular Letter No.4204/Add.2 (21 February 2020) contains the Joint Statement IMO-WHO on the Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak and encourages Member States and international organizations to disseminate it as widely as possible. Available in the six official languages of the United Nations system.
- Circular Letter No.4204/Add.1 (19 February 2020) provides advice on Implementation and enforcement of relevant IMO instruments
- Circular Letter No.4203.Add.1 (12 February 2020) provides information and guidance on the precautions to be taken to minimize risks to delegates
- Circular Letter No.4204 (31 January 2020) providing information and guidance, based on recommendations developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), on the precautions to be taken to minimize risks to seafarers, passengers and others on board ships from the coronavirus.