Maritime security issues are high on the agenda of IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), which meets from 15 to 24 May. Other major issues to be tackled include the adoption of proposed amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974; ongoing work on the safety of bulk carrier ships and large passenger vessels; implementation of the revised STCW Convention; and the adoption of new and amended ships routeing measures.
The MSC is reviewing recommendations and proposals including the following:
- An accelerated implementation schedule for Automatic Identification Systems
- New proposed International Code for the Security of Ships and Port Facilities
- Proposed new requirements for ship security plans
- The desirability of transparency of ownership and control of the ship
- Providing a capability for seafarers to activate an alarm in the case of a terrorist attack
- Maritime security equipment to prevent unauthorized boarding in ports and at sea
Access to spaces in cargo areas of oil tankers and bulk carriers is also on the agenda. It is intended to ensure that vessels can be properly inspected throughout their lifespan, by designing and building the ship to provide suitable means for access. Without adequate access, the structural condition of the vessel can deteriorate undetected and major structural failure can arise. The regulation would require each space within the cargo area to be provided with a permanent means of access to enable, throughout the life of a ship, overall and close-up inspections and thickness measurements of the ship’s structures. Currently, SOLAS chapter II-1 regulation 12-2 specifies minimum dimensions for access to spaces in the cargo area of oil tankers (only) including cofferdams, ballast tanks, cargo tanks, etc. The revised regulation is intended to address the concern that although the access to spaces in the cargo area should be sufficient to ensure their complete inspection, evidence from current ship designs suggest that a lack of detailed requirements is preventing the regulation from being fully and consistently implemented.