Autonomous Shipping, COVID-19 Impact, Security And Fuel Safety In Spotlight At 103rd  Session Of  IMO’s MSC

The foundations for the future development of a regulatory framework for Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) will be laid at the 103rd  session of  IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), held in remote session from 5 to14 May 2021.  The Committee will consider the outcome of a regulatory scoping exercise on MASS carried out over the last couple of years and identify priorities for further work. In addition to discussing the most appropriate ways of addressing MASS operations from the regulatory perspective, meeting attendees will also consider submissions relating to MASS trials.

MSC 103 will also explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on shipping and seafarers. The Committee is expected to discuss a number of submissions, including a proposal for the adoption of a resolution on prioritising seafarers for COVID-19 vaccination.

Another important item on the agenda is maritime security, including cybersecurity, piracy and armed robbery. The Committee is expected to discuss in particular the ongoing piracy problems in the Gulf of Guinea.

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Fuel safety is also high on the agenda, with the Committee expected to establish a working group to examine issues including fuel flashpoint, blended fuels and fuel sampling and testing.

In response to the growing need for safer operation of domestic ferries, the Committee will be considering a set of draft model regulations on domestic ferry safety that can be incorporated into national law.

The MSC will also consider a number of proposals for future work, including how to address the problem of containers lost at sea. The Committee will adopt a number of amendments to SOLAS and other instruments. The session will also approve various sets of guidance and guidelines developed by the sub-committees.

The meeting was opened by IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim. Ms. Mayte Medina (United States) was elected Chair at the start of the session, following the resignation of the long-serving previous Chair, Mr. Brad Groves (Australia) at the end of last year. Mr. Theofilos Mozas (Greece) was elected as Vice Chair for 2021.

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