Report from the 103rd session of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC)

By Lars Lange, IUMI Secretary General

The 103rd session of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) took place from 5 - 14 May 2021. Due to COVID-19, it was again held remotely. A big success for IUMI is the approval by MSC 103 of IUMI’s initiative with regard to fires on large container vessels. In addition, the following key outcomes with relevance to IUMI’s policy agenda are:


  • Fuel oil: IUMI joined a working group during MSC 103 on fuel oil safety and was particularly interested in the considerations on bunker licensing schemes. The Working Group proposed in its report to the MSC to “invite Member States to consider the implementation of bunker licensing schemes for bunker suppliers operating in their jurisdiction.”


  • Containers lost at sea: MSC 103 agreed on a new output on “containers lost at sea”. A paper by Vanuatu had proposed to agree on the development of “measures to facilitate the detection, reporting, positioning, tracking and recovery of containers lost at sea”. A paper submitted by the EU Member States expressed support for this approach. IUMI is in favour of this new output but urges to focus holistically on the addressing of the root causes. Eventually, the new outcome was agreed by MSC based on the proposal of the EU Member States. The proposal was put in the post-biennial agenda for 2022/2023. It has been referred to the Sub-Committee for the Carriage of Cargoes in Containers (CCC). IUMI will keep all internal stakeholders informed and stay involved in the further process at IMO.


  • Piracy: A working group during MSC 103 prepared a MSC resolution on recommended action to address piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea. The resolution calls Member States to strengthen law enforcement and the harmonisation of criminal penalties across local coastal States. It deals with considerations on how to enable security escort vessels and it supports wider participation in the existing international framework to fight piracy in the region.


  • Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS): A working group during MSC 103 finalised the scoping exercise of the MSC allocating all safety related IMO rules where MASS will need amended regulations and instruments in the future. Based on this outcome, MSC will work in its next sessions on the preparation of future instruments. The IMO Legal and Facilitation Committees will work on the topic as well. MSC emphasised that a harmonised approach between all three committees is needed without delaying the work.