IUMI update on the 98th session of the Maritime Safety Committee

By Nick Gooding FCII, IUMI Alternate Officer at IMO

The 98th session of the Maritime Safety Committee met at the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) headquarters between the 9 and 16 June under the chairmanship of Brad Groves from Australia. IUMI were represented by Lars Lange, Hendrike Kühl, and Nick Gooding.

The key matters of interest are as follows:

Passenger ship stability amendments

The plenary adopted a set of amendments to SOLAS chapter II-1 relating to subdivisions and damage stability, with an expected entry into force on 1 January 2020.

The focus of these amendments was on new build passenger ships and taking into account recommendations arising from the investigation into the 2012 Costa Concordia incident. The plenary also adopted revised explanatory notes to the subdivision and damage stability regulations set out in SOLAS chapter II-1.

Also approved was the revised guidance for watertight doors on passenger ships which may be opened during navigation.  


A set of draft amendments to update requirements for a number of different cargoes under the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (IMSBC Code) were adopted.

The amendments highlighted the responsibility of the shipper in ensuring that a test to determine the transportable moisture limit (TML) of a solid bulk cargo is conducted. Also included were amendments related to substances which are harmful to the marine environment, meaning the shipper has to declare whether or not a solid bulk cargo, other than grain, is harmful to the marine environment.



Amendments were adopted to update and amend the Code for the Construction and Equipment of Mobile Offshore Drilling Units 2009. These amendments considered recommendations arising from the investigation into the explosion, fire and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. The main revisions concerned machinery and electrical installations in hazardous areas, fire safety together with life-saving appliances and equipment.


Cyber risk management

The Meeting adopted a resolution on maritime cyber risk management in safety management systems.

The resolution is directed towards administrations to ensure that cyber risks are appropriately addressed in safety management systems no later than the first annual verification of the company's Document of Compliance after 1 January 2021.

The meeting also approved a circular on guidelines on maritime cyber risk management. The circular contains high-level recommendations for maritime cyber risk management.  It refers to being able to measure the extent to which a technology asset is threatened by a cyber attack or interference which may result in operational, safety or security failures as a consequence of information or systems being corrupted, lost or compromised.

Piracy and armed robbery against ships

The meeting was informed on the latest piracy and armed robbery statistics as reported to the IMO. A total of 221 piracy and armed robbery incidents occurred worldwide in 2016, a fall of about 27 per cent compared to 303 incidents reported in 2015. 

However, in West Africa, incidents had increased by 77 per cent (62 incidents in 2016 against 35 in 2015). Although piracy and armed robbery activity in the South China Sea had decreased slightly with 68 cases reported in 2016 compared to 81 in 2015, developments in the South East Asian region, particularly in the Sulu-Celebes Sea, were noted with concern.

Piracy off the coast of Somalia was reported to be still active, with eight incidents reported between January and April 2017, involving six merchant ships and two dhows and around 39 crew members taken hostage/kidnapped.

Unsafe mixed migration by sea

Member States and international organisations affirmed their concern for the humanitarian situation and the loss of migrants at sea, and agreed that the way forward was to promote appropriate and effective action at the United Nations.

Implementation of e-navigation strategy and operational safety

The MSC adopted and approved a number of new and revised performance standards and guidelines relating to operational safety, including those to implement the e-navigation strategy.

The MSC approved a circular on guidelines for shipborne position, navigation and timing (PNT) data processing, which provide advice on enhancing the safety and efficiency of navigation by the provision of improved data to the bridge.

Also adopted were amendments to the guidelines and criteria for ship reporting systems. The revisions encourage the use and recognition of automated electronic means of ship reporting.

GMDSS modernisation plan

The MSC approved the Modernisation Plan of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), prepared by the sub-committee on Navigation, Communications and Search & Rescue. The plan envisages the development of amendments to SOLAS and related instruments for approval in 2021 and their adoption in 2022, with entry into force in 2024.