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While many in the shipping world will be attending Nor-Shipping in Oslo next week, the IMO’s MSC will begin its 101st
session with a busy agenda. MSC 101 runs from Wednesday 5 June until Friday 14 June.

At least four working groups will be established to report back during the final two days of the meeting. These cover issues such as Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS), Goal-based New Ship Construction Standards, Measures to Enhance the Safety of Ships Relating to the Use of Fuel Oil and a Drafting Group on Amendments to Mandatory Instruments.

With the impending 2020 sulphur cap, a lot of attention is being focussed on the safety aspect of the new fuels needed for ships to comply with the reduced sulphur cap. Industry bodies have raised concerns over stability and miscibility of new fuels as well as the effect on safety that could occur due to problems with switching and power blackouts due to fuel related problems.

Also on the agenda are topics such as E-navigation, domestic ferry safety and adoption of amendments agreed at previous MSC and sub-committee meetings. ​The MSC is expected to consider, for adoption, proposed amendments to the SOLAS Convention and to mandatory codes:

  • Draft amendments to the appendix to SOLAS, to the record of equipment, relating to rudder, propeller, thrust, pitch and operational mode indicator.
  • Draft amendments to the International Code for Fire Safety Systems (FSS Code), relating to inert gas systems.
  • Draft amendments to the International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other ow-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code), including those relating to regulations on loading limit for liquefied gas fuel tanks, regulations for fuel distribution outside of machinery space, regulations for internal combustion engines of piston type and fire protection for fuel storage hold space; and amendments relating to the protection of the fuel supply for liquefied gas fuel tanks, aimed at preventing explosions.
  • Draft amendments to the International Life-Saving Appliances Code (LSA Code), relating to general requirements for lifeboats and launching and embarkation appliances.
  • A comprehensive set of draft amendments to the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code), representing including the revised chapters 17 (Summary of minimum requirements), 18 (List of products to which the code does not apply), 19 (Index of Products Carried in Bulk) and 21 (Criteria for assigning carriage requirements for products subject to the IBC Code). Consequential amendments to the Code for the construction and equipment of ships carrying dangerous chemicals in bulk (BCH Code) are also set to be adopted.
  • The draft consolidated edition of the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (IMSBC Code), incorporating amendment 05-19. The 2019 amendments include updates to various schedules, such as new individual schedule for BAUXITE FINES as a Group A cargo, as well as editorial amendments. The amendments are incorporated into a consolidated IMSBC Code, to include all amendments to date, since the IMSBC Code was first adopted in 2008.

​The MSC is expected to approve draft guidance for navigation and communication equipment intended for use on ships operating in polar waters. The guidance includes recommendations on temperature and mechanical shock testing, and on how to address ice accretion and battery performance in cold temperatures.

This is expected to be an important tool in support of the implementation of the mandatory Polar Code. IMO’s Polar Code helps ensure that ships operating in the harsh Arctic and Antarctic areas take into account extremes of temperature and that critical equipment remains operational under those conditions. The Committee will also further consider how to move forward with developing requirements for ships operating in polar waters but not currently covered by the Polar Code.

A proposed draft Assembly resolution urging Member States to take steps, on a voluntary basis, to implement safety measures of the Polar Code on non-SOLAS ships will be considered by the MSC. If agreed, it could go forward to the IMO Assembly in late 2019 for adoption.

The meeting is also expected to approve draft amendments to Maritime Safety Information (MSI)-related instruments to accommodate amendments to SOLAS adopted in 2018 (entering into force on 1January 2020) provide for new mobile satellite services recognised by IMO to be used in the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), and allow the broadcast of MSI to a defined geographical area through those newly recognized services, in addition to the existing Inmarsat services., to be effective from 1 January 2020. The draft amendments relate to, International SafetyNET Manual (MSC.1/Circ.1364/Rev.1), Promulgation of maritime safety information (resolution A.705(17), as amended), World-Wide Navigational Warning Service (resolution A.706(17), as amended), IMO/WMO Worldwide Met-Ocean Information and Warning Service guidance document (resolution A.1051(27)).

It will also consider a draft Iridium SafetyCast service manual and note information provided by IMSO in relation to the implementation of the recognized maritime mobile satellite services provided by Iridium Satellite.