IMO MSC 100 completed its milestone 100th session on 7 December. MSC 100 had a busy agenda encompassing maritime autonomous surface ships, fatigue guidance for seafarers, polar shipping, goal-based standards and of course the 2020 sulphur cap.
Fuel quality and safety
IMO MSC 100 considered a proposal that the issue of fuel oil safety, which is currently regulated under MAPROL Annex VI, should be under MSC instead of MEPC, and possibly included into SOLAS.
Moreover MSC 100 concluded that it should a more robust stance against fuel safety issues. For this reason, it drafted the output: ‘Development of further measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of fuel oil.’ This will be added on the MSC 101 agenda with completion date on 2021.
What is more, MSC 100 considered proposals that parties to MARPOL Annex VI should create bunker supplier licensing schemes, but MSC decided that MEPC should consider this issue.
In light of this, the Union of the Greek Shipowners (UGS) welcomed this decision, as it confirmed its exclusive competence regarding safety issues regarding the use of ships’ fuel oil.
We hope that both existing problems as well as any that may emanate from the new low sulphur marine fuels, which will be produced mainly through blending (fuel blends), will be addressed appropriately and effectively by the IMO MSC
The President of the UGS, Mr. Theodore Veniamis commented.
MSC 100 approved the revised guidelines on fatigue that were finalised at HTW 5. These include:
- Fatigue and recovery;
- Fatigue and the seafarer;
- Fatigue awareness and safety;
- Fatigue and ship design;
- Fatigue, the Administration and Port State Authorities.
MSC 92 agreed to conduct Regulatory Scoping Exercise (RSC) for Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS). MSC 99 had agreed on this, and now MSC 100:
- Proposed interim guidelines for MASS trials;
- Suggested other proposals, such as the levels of automation and more information;
- Agreed the framework for the RSC, including plan for work, procedures and time table;
- Agreed provisional principles for the development of guidelines for MASS trials.
What is more, a panel with representatives from manufacturers, technology providers and the ITF-accredited representative to the IMO Branko Berlan. Mr. Berlan highlighted the crucial role of seafarers in preventing accidents and incidents.
Seafarers are ready for the future. The new autonomous technologies are not here today, tomorrow or next week. It will come as evolution, not revolution. Moreover, the maritime human element, in particular seafarers, are and will be indispensable
The panel discussion concluded that:
- Seafarers are prepared for ship automation;
- For autonomous ships, human intervention and supervision will always be there to override machinery. This technology may be available in less than five years;
- The challenges to overcome are regulation, regional and national imbalance, search and rescue, communications and reliability of new technology;
- Appropriate education and training should ensure prospective career paths.
MSC 100 considered proposed amendments to mandate the Polar Code on all ships operating in polar waters to which SOLAS Chapter VI applies. It also considered to mandate some parts of the Polar Code on all ships operating in polar waters to which SOLAS Chapter V applies.
However, there was not a definitive conclusion and the discussions will continue at MSC 101, along with a proposal to establish appropriate guidance.