The International Maritime Organization is set to officially adopt a proposal making it mandatory for all ships to carry aircraft-style black boxes that record system malfunctions during accidents. The recorders, which already are recommended, aid investigators looking into the causes of accidents at sea.
The IMO maritime safety committee, meeting in London, is expected to agree to a July 1, 2002, deadline for the mandatory fitting of black boxes. The committee also is considering making it mandatory for all ships to carry an automatic identification system that can help authorities onshore to identify vessels immediately. It is expected the new systems will be mandatory on ships built after July 2002 and will be phased in on existing vessels between July 2002 and July 2008.