The development of goal-based standards for new ship construction is high on the agenda of IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) currently meeting at the Organization's London Headquarters for its 80th session from 11 to 20 May 2005. Other important issues on the MSC agenda include the adoption of revised provisions for subdivision and stability in SOLAS chapter II-1 Construction - Structure, subdivision and stability, machinery and electrical installations, continued work on passenger ship safety and implementation of the maritime security measures adopted by IMO.
The MSC is expected to re-establish the Working Group on Goal-based New Ship Construction Standards to further progress the work on the issue, based on the premise agreed at the last session that the standards should be broad, over-arching goals against which ship safety should be verified at the design and construction stages and during ship operation. The MSC has already reached general agreement on the proposed five-tier system, consisting of goals (Tier I), functional requirements (Tier II), verification of compliance criteria (Tier III), technical procedures and guidelines, classification rules and industry standards (Tier IV) and codes of practice and safety and quality systems for shipbuilding, ship operation, maintenance, training, manning, etc. (Tier V).
The Working Group is expected to finalize the basic principles of goal-based standards, the Tier I goals and the Tier II functional requirements for consideration and approval by the Committee. In particular, extensive discussions are expected on the functional requirements preliminarily agreed at the last session, concentrating on issues such as design life, environmental conditions, fatigue life, coating life, corrosion addition, structural strength, construction quality, maintenance, transparency, operating conditions, information keeping, actual service life and watertight and weathertight integrity.
Substantial progress is expected with regard to the verification of compliance criteria (Tier III), in particular concerning the question of who should verify the compliance of the classification societies' rules with the goal-based standards and the mechanism and procedure of verification. Other issues will include the consideration of the provisions of the goal-based new ship construction standards could be incorporated in the appropriate IMO instruments, including the preparation of relevant options for the Committee to consider. Further discussions are expected with regard to other issues raised in the submissions to the session, concentrating, inter-alia, on the linkage between goal-based standards and formal safety assessment, the role of the human element and the relationship between a performance-based and a risk-based approach.