IMO Publishing has recently produced an updated erratum for SOLAS, Consolidated Edition 2009. It is only applicable to the English version. You can download and print it.
Philippine’s Marina Industry Authority has put up the official website for the IMO international diplomatic conference scheduled for 21-25 June 2010.
As an aside, MAC would like to hear from anyone who may be attending and if there are questions about the Philippines he’ll be glad to answer them.
Good news on lifeboat safety, a potential conflict of terms over the past two decades, comes in dribs and drabs but movement, while glacial, there appears to be. In late February the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment agreed on draft guidelines to ensure release mechanisms for lifeboats are replaced with those complying with new, stricter safety standards.
Now available from IMO is the 2010 edition of the International Safety Management (ISM) Code, which includes all related guidelines and consolidates all amendments to the code adopted since the last edition was published in 2002.
The 2010 edition is an essential reference for maritime administrations, ship manufacturers, owners and operators, shipping companies, academia, engine and equipment manufacturers and others with an interest in ensuring safety at sea and avoidance of damage to the environment and includes:
IMO Information Sheet No. 20 on information resources on the fair treatment of seafarers has been updated. It includes a wide range of materials covering abandonment, personal injury to or death of
seafarers; criminalisation of seafarers in the event of maritime accidents including pollution incidents and shore leave for seafarers from a variety of sources and with internet links to available material.
Two clarifications by the International Maritime Organisation, IMO, have been issued that may go someway to enhancing safety during lifeboat drills, but…
First, there has been confusion about the use of slings, or fall preventer devices, during drills involved manned lifeboats. Some administrations have forcefully promoted their use in the past (See The Case of the Killer Catch in the Library) but there has been much footdragging in this critical issue until now.
When MAC added up all the magazine and other service subscriptions he ought to be paying it wasn’t long before it got into double figures so the IMO’s monthly Current Awareness Bulletin comes in as a useful way of keeping relatively up to date way not to break the bank.
Early reports from delegates at the 52nd meeting of the International Maritime Organisation’s Sub-Committee on the design of equipment, DE, indicate that significant progress has been made on lifeboat safety under the Life Saving Appliance Code, LSA.
An industry executive tells MAC that the draft language is ‘satisfactory’, but will still had to be approved by the IMO in plenary session.
The last year’s session was met with severe disappointment by the industry when safety issues fell off the agenda under pressure and was dominated by moves to ensure the existence and profitability of the third-party lifeboat maintenance sector.
Lifeboat accidents have increased dramatically, especially during drills, since the introduction of poorly thought-out on-load release hook regulations. Under the regulations, lifeboat releases were designed to fail into an unsafe condition if something went wrong. Lifeboats are not regarded as ‘people carriers’, like building lifts and equipment used in the offshore industry which must ‘fail to safe’ if something goes wrong.. As a result, failure of the release hooks frequently causes serious injury or death.
Incidents have been blamed on poor training and maintenance by seafarers but poor lifeboat design, unclear signage, badly written manuals, operating procedures, and poorly designed release systems are common. Counterfeit equipment and ‘copycat’ releases made of under-specification materials are addition factors.
While the report of Board Of Marine Inquiry, BMI, in the Philippines on the capsize of the Princess Of The Stars in a typhoon with the loss of more than 700 lives, has met its primary objective, establishing liability for the incident and recommending measures to be taken against those deemed at fault, how those recommendations will enhance safety remains open to question.
The report’s key recommendations are that the master’s licence should be revoked, since he is found liable for sailing in potentially unsafe conditions and that the Certificate of Public Convenience of the ship owner, Sulpicio Lines, should be withdrawn, theoretically.
Revoking Captain Florencio Marimon’s license is unlikely to contribute to safety, being almost certainly dead, along with the rest of the bridge team, he is not likely to need it. Sulpicio Lines accounts for around 40 per cent of interisland traffic, much of which is given to monopolies, and withdrawing its certificate of public convenience will do little more than open up a free-for-all by other ferries companies to take over Sulpicio’s routes. Some of those ferry companies have a worse safety record than Sulpicio.
The report makes no firm recommendations regarding safety issues. It makes no recommendation regarding the lashing of cargo. Movement of inadequately lashed cargo almost certainly made a major contribution to the listing and subsequent capsize of the vessel. No evidence is presented regarding the adequacy or inadequacy of the lashing arrangements.
Inadequate lashing of cargo is common element in maritime incidents in the Philippines.
The report does not consider in any depth changes made to the wagon deck, deck C, of the ferry. As originally designed, for vehicles, Deck C had no0 windows. A refurbishment adapted the deck for passengers, with non-watertight windows, and inadequate escape routes.
No firm recommendations are made regarding the watertight integrity of passenger spaces or emergency access.
The report does not consider the introduction of voyage data recorders, instruments that might allow monitoring of a vessel’s safety.
The report does not address the training of the crew in evacuation procedures or their familiarity with lifesaving appliances.
The report does not address the lack of GMDSS in the Philippines, the shortfall in emergency response or the lack of appropriate equipment or training to deal with a sadly common occurrence.
The report does not address the lack of appropriate procedures for the investigation of maritime casualties.
It does not address the ineffectiveness of regulation or enforcement.
It must be emphasised that the purpose of the BMI is merely to establish liability, so much that is not covered by the report is, in fact, not within its remit.
Most of all, it doesn’t address the issue of “where do we go from here?
The Philippines is not the only country without an adequate, safety-oriented maritime casualty investigation regime, nor the only one to cling to a concept rooted in a long-gone colonial past, and certainly not the only one to avoid its obligations to the International Maritime Organisation.
More than anything else it represents a model of the challenges faced in establishing competent, professionalised maritime accident investigation in much of the rest of the world.