Autonomous ships

Key on the agenda is the issue of autonomous ships. MSC will receive the report of a correspondence group which has been testing the proposed methodology for the regulatory scoping exercise on autonomous surface ships, taking into account different levels of autonomy. A working group is expected to be established during the session. It is anticipated that the framework for the scoping exercise will be further developed and finalized.

Goal-based standards and safety level approach 

Following the adoption of Goal-based ship construction standards for bulkers and oil tankers (GBS) and the successful initial verification of 12 Recognized Organizations by IMO GBS audit teams, MSC will consider the final report of the audit team that conducted the first maintenance of verification audit in order to ensure continued conformity of the rules with the GBS.

Approval of revised guidelines on fatigue  

The MSC is expected to approve revised IMO Guidelines on Fatigue, which have been thoroughly reviewed and updated by the HTW 5 Sub-Committee. The Guidelines provide information on the causes and consequences of fatigue, and the risks it poses to the safety and health of seafarers, operational safety, security and protection of the marine environment. The aim is to assist all stakeholders to contribute to the mitigation and management of fatigue.

Safety of ships in polar waters

The Committee is expected to establish a working group to further consider how to move forward with developing mandatory and/or recommendatory measures for ships operating in polar waters but not currently covered by the Polar Code.

2020 sulphur cap

The Committee will be invited to consider submissions concerning the potential need for guidance related to possible safety issues associated with the implementation of the 2020 sulphur cap. MEPC 73 in October invited MSC 100 to consider the outcome of the intersessional meeting concerning the safety implications associated with the use of low-sulphur fuel oil and take action.

MSC 100 began on 3 December / Credit: IMO

Adoption of amendments 

The MSC is expected to adopt the following amendments:

  • Draft amendments to update the 2011 ESP Code, including a series of technical and editorial revisions, as well as revisions related to criteria for grooving corrosion and various updated tables and diagrams.
  • Draft amendments to the SPS Code, including a revised chapter 8 on life-saving appliances; a requirement for special purpose ships to comply with the provisions of chapter IV of SOLAS; and a revised Form of Safety Certificate for Special Purpose Ships and Record of Equipment for Special Purpose Ship Safety Certificate (Form SPS).

Approval of draft amendments, guidance and guidelines

The MSC is expected to:

  • Approve draft amendments to the IBC Code, with a view to subsequent adoption. The draft amendments include draft revised chapters 17 (Summary of minimum requirements), 18 (List of products to which the Code does not apply), 19 (Index of products carried in bulk) and 21 (Criteria for assigning carriage requirements for products subject to the IBC Code), as well as draft new paragraph 15.15 (Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) detection equipment for bulk liquids). Further draft amendments are consequential to draft amendments to MARPOL Annex II.
  • Approve draft amendments to the LSA Code regarding ventilation on totally enclosed lifeboats, in order to ensure a habitable environment is maintained in such survival craft. The draft new paragraphs (4.6.6 and 4.6.7) on means of ventilation for totally enclosed lifeboats, and on openings and closings, would require a totally enclosed lifeboat to be provided with means to achieve a ventilation rate of at least 5 m3/h per person for the number of persons which the lifeboat is permitted to accommodate, for not less than 24 hours.
  • Approve draft amendments to the LSA Code focused on manually-launched "rescue boats that are not one of the lifeboats" on cargo ships.  The draft amendments (to paragraph also include a requirement for means to bring the rescue boat against the ship’s side and hold it so that persons can be safely embarked.
  • Approve draft Revised guidelines for the approval of fixed water-based fire-fighting systems for ro-ro spaces and special category spaces (to update the guidelines in MSC.1/Circ.1430). The revision relates in particular to the position of sprinklers or nozzles, to ensure adequate performance, and to reliable control of fixed water-based fire-fighting systems.
  • Instruct relevant sub-committees to consider relevant parts of the draft interim guidelines for the safety of ships using methanol as fuel prepared by CCC 5. The detailed interim guidelines provide requirements for the arrangement, installation, control and monitoring of machinery, equipment and systems using methyl/ethyl alcohol as fuel to minimize the risk to the ship, its crew and the environment, taking into account to the nature of the fuels involved.
  • Consider draft amendments to the International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other IGF Code in particular proposed modifications to regulation 9.5.6 relating to the leakage detection requirements for pipes carrying liquefied fuel
  • Approve draft interim guidelines on the application of high manganese austenitic steel for cryogenic service. The interim guidelines are aimed at ensuring the safety of LNG-fueled ships, by specifying the requirements for the utilization of high manganese austenitic steel in the design and fabrication of cargo and fuel tanks complying with the IGC and IGF Codes.
  • Approve Interim guidance for conducting the refined MHB (CR) corrosivity test related to draft amendments to section of the IMSBC Code concerning test for metals.

A special event marking 100 sessions of the MSC was held on Monday, 3 December.