Revised emergency response procedures for ships carrying dangerous goods


Revised emergency response procedures for ships carrying dangerous goods was one of the many items discussed at IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 99). Autonomous ships, security and adoption of amendments to mandatory instruments were also on the agenda.

BIMCO attended the 99th session of the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 99), which was held in London from 16 – 25 May 2018.

The agenda for MSC 99 was comprehensive and the following central items should be highlighted.

Amendments to mandatory instruments

MSC 99 adopted several of amendments to the following IMO regulation:

  • Amendments to Part A of the International Code on Intact Stability, 2008 (2008 IS Code) under the 1974 SOLAS Convention – Part A – Mandatory Criteria. The amendments to the 2008 IS Code are intended to ensure that references to the non-mandatory part of the Code (Part B) do not, inadvertently, make them mandatory. The amendments include making some footnotes part of the main text where the content was intended to be mandatory.
  • Amendments to SOLAS, Part B-1 on stability, regulation 8-1 on system capabilities and operation information after a flooding casualty on passenger ships. The regulation is now amended in order to capture the purpose of providing operational information to the master for safe return to port. The availability of the essential systems shall remain operational when the ship is subject to flooding of any single watertight room on board.

In this regard MSC 99 also updated the associated circular. See below.

  • Amendments to the IBC, HCH, GC, IGC and EGC Codes – these amendments to the Certificate of Fitness (CoF) include a paragraph in the CoF clarifying the requirements for an approved loading and stability manual/booklet to be supplied to the ship. The requirements will enter into force on 1 January 2020.

MSC also approved several circulars, among others:

Consolidated Revised Emergency Response Procedures for Ships Carrying Dangerous Goods (EmS Guide) and its associated MSC circular. EmS Guide contains guidance on Emergency Response Procedures for Ships Carrying Dangerous Goods including the Emergency Schedules (EmS) to be followed in case of incidents involving dangerous substances, materials or articles, or harmful substances (marine pollutants), regulated under the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code).

This edition takes into account the amendment 39-18 to the IMDG Code. The EmS Guide will be further amended as and when necessary to reflect amendments made to the IMDG Code.
BIMCO will publish the circular as soon as the text is released from the IMO.

Guidelines on operational information for masters in case of flooding for passenger ships constructed before 1 January 2014, with a view to providing additional guidance for the uniform implementation of stability computers (SOLAS regulation II-1/8-1.3) for passenger ships constructed before 1 January 2014.

When an onboard stability computer is provided, the system shall comprise an onboard stability computer capable of receiving and processing data to provide the master with regularly updated operational information on the residual damage stability of the ship after a flooding casualty.

The stability computer software shall use an accurate and detailed computer model of the entire hull, the pre-damage loading condition and the status of the watertight doors to calculate the residual damage stability following any flooding casualty by processing data to provide operational information required by the master.

BIMCO will publish the circular as soon as the text is released from the IMO.

Interim guidelines for the harmonized display of navigation information received via communication equipment

The interim guidelines aim to ensure that information is displayed in an efficient, reliable and consistent format, in a manner that is easily interpreted for the seafarer to support decision-making. The use of these Guidelines will ensure that navigation information received via communications equipment is displayed in a harmonized manner on the ships' navigational bridge.

BIMCO will publish the circular as soon as the text is released from the IMO.

Enhanced Survey Programme (ESP) Code

The 2011 ESP Code contains the survey requirements for bulk carriers and oil tankers. The Code has recently been reviewed and are now ready for MSC to issue a resolution on the amendments. The update of the code has taken a long time, and it is expected that the draft amendments to the ESP Code will be considered for approval at MSC 99, with a subsequent adoption at MSC 100.

The entry in to force will be by 1 July 2020. Note, that the MSC resolution repeats much of the IACS Unified Requirements (URs) as set out in the Z10 series.

Safety standards for life boats with single fall and hook systems

BIMCO together with Member States and other shipping associations, submitted a proposal asking for a new output to amend the International Life-Saving Appliance (LSA) Code in order to ensure adequate safety standards for boats with single fall and hook systems and propose a new output for inclusion in the agenda of the Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE).

The paper aimed to ensure the safety of crew operating, maintaining and testing both lifeboats and rescue boats. Single fall systems must have the same level of safety provisions applicable to twin fall systems, including protection against accidental release.

The paper received much support and the item will thus be applied to SSE agenda in Spring 2019.

It is likely that amendments will apply to new installations and to existing ships only upon replacement of equipment, possibly by 1 Jan 2022, provided that the amendments are adopted by 2020.

Autonomous ships

MSC 99 embarked on discussions related to the maritime autonomous ships. The use of autonomous ships – or so-called Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) – will create the need for a new regulatory framework that takes into consideration interaction and co-existence with existing ships.

To get a better understanding, MSC agreed to initiate a scoping exercise in order to identify affected IMO regulations by MASS. An over-arching framework was developed for the scoping exercise, including aims and objectives, methodology and provisional definitions and concepts of autonomy.

The work will be divided in two: a first step for the identification of provisions in the IMO regulation in terms of applicability to MASS, and a second step for an analysis to determine the most appropriate way of addressing MASS operation, taking into account eg the human element, technology and operational factors.

The MSC developed a work plan for the scoping exercise, in order to finalize the work by MSC 103 in 2020.

BIMCO supports the initiative by the IMO to assess the need for changes to international conventions and national laws for autonomous ships to operate worldwide. There is an urgent need to come up with a definition of an autonomous ship is and this will be taken forward to MSC by emphasising that there is a need for developing categories of ships with different levels of automation. They should cover from partially automated systems that assist the seafarers to fully autonomous systems, which can undertake all aspects of a ships' operation without human intervention.

Standardized reporting of global piracy and armed robbery incidents - MSC 99/INF.18

The Marshall Islands, BIMCO, OCIMF and INTERTANKO submitted a document highlighting the major differences in incident type definitions, reporting methods, and statistical analyses of maritime security incidents within and across regions.

The reason is that this can lead to the distribution of unreliable data which may serve to artificially elevate or minimize the actual risks to seafarers and ships. In the document it was suggested that IMO should develop harmonized global maritime security incident type definitions and simplify the incident reporting framework. This would add clarity to the global security situation and better inform Member States.

The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against ships (ReCAAP) intervened to the document that they planned to continue to use their own reporting methods whatever is introduced in the future. Other countries supported the development of standardized system, but regional nuances should be considered and taken into account as well.

A working group dealing with the subject was unfortunately not established during the meeting, but the Marshall Islands will continue to gather support from industry organisations and other flag states to progress the matter in the future.

High Risk Areas

MSC 99 was requested to reduce the High Risk Area (HRA) away from the Oman coast. Reasoning behind this request was the fact naval patrols, the facilitation of armed guard’s embarkations and disembarkations and the reduction of piracy. This fact was also highlighted by IMO Secretary-General in his opening address. MSC 99 requested Oman to consult with industry organisations to find a future solution, likely in a possible revision of the Best Management Practise (BMP).

Mixed mass migration by sea

MSC had discussions focussed around the high-level meeting at IMO last year. The situation in the Mediterranean is still a concern but efforts are being made to strengthen the Libyan Coast Guard through training and the provision of additional patrol craft. IMO will meet with other UN bodies in July 2018 to discuss further improvements. MSC 100 will be informed by the IMO of all findings and results from that meeting.

Requirements for practical seating arrangements in survival craft

MSC 99 also discussed the personal mobility and practical seating capacity in survival crafts. This is the first time the unexpected application of minimum seating space was submitted to IMO. The way they are designed today leaves seafarers and passenger with very little or no space, so they cannot move around the craft eg for sanitary or medical reasons.

MSC 99 agreed that there is an urgent need to develop of a minimum standard for personal mobility and seating space in survival crafts by developing new regulation addressing additional space for movement after the occupants are seated.

The subject will be further addressed at MSC 100 and BIMCO will follow the matter closely.


Jeppe Skovbakke Juhl
in Copenhagen, DK


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