1. Adoption of amendments

The MSC accepted the following amendments to the SOLAS Convention & to the Codes obligatory under the Convention:

  • Amendments to the appendix to the annex to the 1974 SOLAS, concerning the addition of a footnote to Forms C, E and P in the Records of Equipment. (Expected entry into force: 1 January 2024)  
  • Modification to the chapter 15 of the International Code for Fire Safety Systems(FSS Code), relating to inert gas systems. (Expected entry into force: 1 January 2024)  
  • Amendments to parts A and A-1 of the International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other Low-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 modification associated to the protection of the fuel supply for liquefied gas fuel tanks, focused at averting explosions. (Expected enforced on: 1st Jan. 2024)  
  • Amendments to chapters IV and VI of the International Life-Saving Appliance Code (LSA Code), relating to general requirements for lifeboats and launching and embarkation appliances.  (Expected entry into force: 1 January 2024)  
  • A comprehensive set of amendments to the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code), including the revised chapters 17 (Summary of least 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). (Expected enforced on: 1st Jan. 2021)
  • The consolidated edition of the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (IMSBC Code), incorporating amendment 05-19. The 2019 modifications comprise updates to various plan, such as new individual plan for the BAUXITE FINES as a Group A cargo, as well as editorial changes. The modification are included into a combine IMSBC Code, to cover all the amendments till date, since the IMSBC Code was first accepted in the year 2008. (Expected entry into force: 1 January 2021; amendments may be applied by Governments, in whole, or in part, on a voluntary basis from 1 January 2020)  
  • Amendments to the International Code on the Enhanced Programme of Inspections During Surveys of Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers, 2011 (2011 ESP Code), to update the Code. (Entry into force: 1 January 2021)

2. Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships – Interim guidelines for the MASS trials approved

The Committee accepted the Interim guidelines for the Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS)  trials.

Among other things, the guidelines say that trials should be conducted in a manner that provides at least the same degree of safety, security and protection of the environment as provided by the relevant instruments. Risks associated with the trials should be appropriately identified and measures to reduce the risks, to as low as reasonably practicable and acceptable, should be put in place.

Onboard or distant operators of the MASS should be suitably competent for operating MASS subject to the trial. Any person involved in MASS trials, whether distant or onboard, should be suitably competent & experienced to the safely conduct MASS trials. Suitable steps should be taken to assure proper cyber risk management of the systems & infrastructure used when performing MASS trials.

The MSC(Maritime Safety committee) made progress with the scoping exercise to look at how the safe, secure & environmentally sound operation of MASS may be established in the IMO instruments.

A working group met during the session & terms of reference were discussed for an intersessional working group to be held in September 2019 to carry on the work. The first step is underway – recognizing, in the applicable agreement, rules which: applies to the MASS & prevent MASS operations; or apply to MASS & do not prevent MASS operations & need no actions; or apply to MASS & do not prevent MASS operations but may need to be modified, & may consists gaps; or have no use to the MASS operations.

Once the first step is accomplished, a second step will be started to examine & find the most suitable way of addressing the MASS operations, considering, inter alia, human element, technology & operational factors. The examination will find the need for: equality as provided for by the instruments or developing explanation; & modifying existing instruments; & forming new instruments; or none of the above as a result of the inspection.

The intersessional working group (meeting in September 2019) has been tasked with considering the results of the first step; considering how the outcome of the second step should be reported to MSC 102; based on a high-level discussion on the gaps, themes and/or relevant findings identified during the first step, providing guidance to Member States for use in the second step; & giving a report to the MSC 102 (May 2020).

3. Goal-based standards – revised generic guidelines approved 

The MSC ratified revised Generic guidelines for the developing IMO goal based standards (MSC.1/ Circ.1394/Rev.2), considering experience acquired by the Sub-Committee on Ship Systems & Equipment (SSE) in following the Generic Guidelines in order to develop draft goals and functional requirements in relation to onboard lifting appliances and anchor handling winches.

IMO has progressively been applying a goal-based attitude to the development of new requirements.

In 2010, IMO adopted the goal-based ship construction standards for bulkers and oil tankers (GBS). These so-called “rules for rules” require that rules for the design and construction of bulk carriers and oil tankers of a recognized organization or administration need to meet the IMO GBS. As of mid 2019, total 13 Recognized Organizations(ROs) have gone through successful initial ratification of the compliance with the IMO GBS, by IMO GBS audit teams.

4. Safety of ships in the polar waters – navigation equipment guidance & draft resolution approved

The MSC approved guidance for navigation and communication equipment intended for use on ships operating in polar waters. The guidance consists instructions on temperature & mechanical shock testing, and on how to address ice formation & 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 guidance assure that ships sailing in the severe Arctic & Antarctic areas considering extremes of temperature & that emergency equipment remains operational under those conditions.

The MSC also accepted Interim recommendations on the life saving appliances & arrangements for the ships sailing in the polar waters.

The Committee accepted a draft Assembly resolution requesting the Member States to  perform, on the voluntary basis,  safety policies of the Polar Code on ships not certified under the SOLAS Convention. The draft resolution will be submitted to the IMO Assembly in late 2019 for acceptance. 

The Polar Code is obligatory for particular ships under the SOLAS & MARPOL Conventions. While SOLAS Chapter V  applicable to all the ships on all voyages(with some exceptions), the other chapters of the Convention do not applicable to some types of ships, comprising cargo ships of less than(<) 500 gross tonnage(GT); pleasure yachts not involved in trade; & fishing vessels (sometimes termed “non-SOLAS ships”).

The Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communication and Search and Rescue (NCSR) was instructed to consider the consequences and feasibility of applying chapters 9 (Safety of Navigation) and 11(Voyage planning) of the Polar Code to non-SOLAS ships; and to consider how best to enhance the safety of non-SOLAS ships operating in polar waters, including possible development of amendments to SOLAS and/or the Polar Code.

5. Recommended interim measures to enhance the safety of the ships relating to the use of oil fuel adopted

Following conference on the ship safety issues associated to the enforcement of the 0.50% limit of the sulphur content of fuel oil (outside emission control areas) and on enhancing the safety of ships relating to the use of fuel oil, the MSC adopted a resolution providing Recommended interim measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of oil fuel.

The resolution emphasize existing SOLAS regulations & recognizes the requirements to further consider oil fuel safety issues. It recommends that SOLAS Contracting Governments:

  • Notify the Organization, for circulation to the Parties & Member States of the Organization, of all confirmed cases where oil fuel suppliers delivered oil fuel failing to meet the conditions stated in the SOLAS regulation II-2/4.2.1, considering regulation 18.9.6 of MARPOL Annex VI;
  • Take action as appropriate against oil fuel suppliers in confirmed cases of deliveries of oil fuel that does not comply with the requirements specified in SOLAS regulation II-2/4.2.1, taking into account regulation 18.9.4 of MARPOL Annex VI;
  • Persuade the extensive possible use of the latest edition of relevant industry standards* & instructions to improve the safety of ships associated to the supply & use of oil fuel; notify the Organization, for communication to Parties & Member States of the Organization, of firm cases where oil fuel suppliers had supplied fuel that endanger the safety of ships or personnel; or harmfully affected the working of the machineries.
  • The MSC also approved an action plan to further consider policies associated to the flashpoint of oil fuel, with a view to finalizing such policies by MSC 104 (2021).    
  • The MSC established a Correspondence Group on Oil Fuel Safety, to:
  • Further consider the development of mandatory requirements regarding the reporting of confirmed cases where oil fuel suppliers have failed to meet the flashpoint requirements of the Organization, taking into account that feedback should also be provided to the supplier;
  • Further consider the development of mandatory requirements to ensure SOLAS Contracting Governments take action as appropriate against oil fuel suppliers in confirmed cases of deliveries of oil fuel that does not comply with the requirements specified in SOLAS regulation II-2/4.2.1, taking into account regulation 18.9.4 of MARPOL Annex VI;
  • Further taking in to account the development of obligatory conditions concerning the documentation of the flash point of the actual fuel batch when bunkering, providing a statement that the oil fuel supplied in accordance with SOLAS regulation II-2/4.2.1;
  • Further taking in to account development of instructions for the ships to convey conditions where they have indicative test results advising that the oil fuel delivered may not in accordance with the SOLAS regulation II 2/4.2.1;
  • Collect data on the possible policies associated to the oil fuel parameters other than flashpoint; &
  • Submit a report to MSC 102.

The 0.50% limit (decreased from 3.50% recently) on the sulphur content of the  ships’ fuel oil, enforced from 1st Jan. 2020 under IMO’s MARPOL agreement, will greatly benefit the environment & human health.

The MSC concurrently approved an MSC-MEPC circular (already approved by MEPC 74) on delivery of compliant fuel oil by suppliers.

6. Piracy and armed robbery against ships

The MSC noted the latest figures on piracy and armed robbery against ships based on reports received by IMO.  

In 2018, 223 incidents took place worldwide as compared to 204 incidents recorded in the year 2017, a rise of about 9% at the global level. So far in this year 2019, incidents in West & Central African waters have comprise of about half of all recorded incidents.

The MSC prompted companies, masters & the seafarers to continue the attentive use of the prevailing IMO guidance & the revised Best Management Practices (BMP) guidance in addition the new Global Counter Piracy Guidance and the updated guidance for protection against piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea region contained in MSC.1/Circ.1601 on Revised industry counter piracy guidance.

The MSC also summon the Member States to continue to supply naval assets; & flag States to continue to observe the danger to the ships flying their flag & set suitable security levels in compliance with the ISPS Code.

Activities to support capacity building in the Gulf of Guinea were noted. It was also important that the IMO Secretariat is an vital member in the international Friends of the Gulf of Guinea (FoGG) group under the G7++ framework. This group is open to all interested Member States, NGOs and IGOs.


The MSC accepted a number of circulars associated to the growth of the e-navigation. E-navigation is explained as the balanced collection, consolidation, interchange, demonstration & inspection of the marine data on board & ashore by electronic means to improve berth to berth navigation & related services for the safety & security at the sea & protection of the marine environment”. An improved IMO e-navigation Strategy Implementation Plan (SIP) was accepted by the MSC 99 in May 2018 (MSC.1/Circ.1595).

The MSC approved/adopted:

  • MSC circular on recommendations for the modernization of user interface design for the navigation appliances. The motive is to spread updated modernization of the user interface & information used by the seafarers to observe, manage & execute navigational tasks which will improve situational awareness & improve safety of navigation. The guidelines, including icons, apply to Integrated Navigation Systems (INS), Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS) and Radar equipment, and they may be applied to other electronic navigation equipment where applicable, improving standardization and usability.
  • Modification to the execution standards for the demonstration of navigation linked information on ship borne navigational displays (resolution MSC.191(79)). The enforcement date of the updated standard for ship borne navigational displays on the bridge of the ship for radar equipment, ECDIS & INS should be 1st Jan. 2024; & for all other navigational displays on the bridge of the ship is 1st July 2025.
  • SN.1/Circ.243/Rev.2 to update the Guidelines for the presentation of navigational-related symbols, terms and abbreviations, which provide guidance on the appropriate use of navigation-related symbols to achieve a harmonized and consistent presentation.
  • MSC resolution on recommendations on the definition & compatible of the format & structure of the Maritime Services in the context of e navigation. The motive of the guidance is to assure that maritime linked information & data interchanged as part of different Maritime Services are performed internationally in a balanced, modernized & unified format. All Maritime utilities should be confirmed with the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) S-100 framework standard, which defines the method for data modelling & developing product guidelines.
  • MSC circular on the Initial representation of the maritime services in terms of the e-navigation. The circular comprise what is considered to be the first draft of Maritime Service explanation & is an initial grant for the harmonization of their format & structure. The initial representation of the Maritime Services comprise, inter alia, vessel traffic service information, navigational aid, traffic organization, maritime safety information, pilotage, tugs, vessel shore reporting, tele medical aid, local port data, nautical charts & publications, ice navigation, meteorological, hydrographic & environmental information & search & rescue. These are expected to be periodically updated, taking into account developments and related work on harmonization being conducted in collaboration with other international organizations, such as the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the International Association of the Marine Aids to Navigation & Lighthouse Authorities (IALA), the International Maritime Pilots Association (IMPA) & the International Harbour Masters Association (IHMA).


Taking into consideration the ongoing occurrence of passenger ferry incidents with often high numbers of casualties, the MSC agreed to include a new item on measures to improve domestic ferry safety on its plan for the next session (with an estimated 4 sessions required to complete the work).

  • This work will aim on forming model regulations on the domestic ferry safety;
  • Providing instructions on the incorporation of model regulations on the domestic ferry safety in domestic law;
  • Developing online training material on the domestic ferry safety; &
  • Continue to provide technical aid to countries in need by the Organization’s Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP). 


The MSC is expected to:

  • Adopted amendments to the Safety Certificate and the Record of Equipment for the Special Purpose Ship (SPS) Safety Certificate of the Code of Safety for Special Purpose Ships (SPS Code).
  • Adopted amendments to the Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (BCH Code), to update in line with corresponding amendments to the IBC Code.
  • Adopted performance standards for float-free emergency position-indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs) operating on 406 MHz, which are proposed to be applicable to float-free EPIRBs operating on the frequency 406 MHz fitted on or after 3 years from the date of their acceptance by the MSC 101 in June 2019. The performance standards include, inter alia, conditions for EPIRBs to be supplied with an Automatic Identification System(AIS); ; locating signal & consolidate type approval provisions.
  • Accepted new traffic separation schemes (TSSs) & related routeing policies & of precautionary areas with suggested directions of traffic flow in the Sunda & Lombok Straits, Indonesia, to minimize the risk of collision between ships & grounding.
  • Adopted amendments to the Recommendations on navigation through the English Channel and the Dover Strait (resolution A.475(XII), related to the termination of the voluntary movement ship reporting system MAREP.
  • Accepted a methods for the submission of documents containing proposals for the establishment of, or amendments to, ships’ routeing systems.
  • Approved amendments to update the Guidelines on annual testing of voyage data recorders (VDR) and simplified voyage data recorders (S-VDR) (MSC.1/Circ.1222), clarifying the examination of float-free capsules approved in accordance with resolution MSC.333(90).
  • Approved Interim guidelines for minimizing the incidence and consequences of fires in ro-ro spaces and special category spaces of new and existing ro-ro passenger ships.
  • Accepted Revised recommendations on alternative design & arrangements for SOLAS chapters II-1 & III.
  • Approved, in relation to the Long-Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) of ships,  amendments to MSC.1/Circ.1376/Rev.3 on Continuity of service plan for the LRIT system and MSC.1/Circ.1259/Rev.7 on LRIT system – Technical documentation (Part I) and approved a revision of the Principles and guidelines relating to the review and audit of the performance of LRIT Data Centres and the International LRIT Data Exchange (MSC.1/Circ.1412/Rev.1).
  • Approved the IMO position on maritime radiocommunication matters for submission to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19), to be held in November 2019.
  • Accepted amendments to Maritime Safety Information(MSI)-associated instruments to accommodate amendments to SOLAS accepted in the year 2018 (enforced on 1st Jan. 2020), in connection to new mobile satellite services recognized 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 prevailing Inmarsat services. The amendments relate to: Revised 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)).
  • Approved Interim guidance on technical requirements for Fleet Safety, a new enhanced group calling service provided by Inmarsat for use in the GMDSS in the coverage area under the Inmarsat-4 Middle East and Asia (MEAS) region satellite.
  • Accepted to spread an Interim Iridium Safety Cast service manual providing data on Iridium’s improved group calling service for use in the GMDSS, considering when performing system trials & tests until a final text of the manual is accepted by the Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications & Search &  Rescue (NCSR).
  • Agreed to hold the fourth session of the Joint FAO/ILO/IMO Ad Hoc Working Group on IUU Fishing and Related Matters (JWG 4), from 23 to 25 October 2019 directly after the Ministerial meeting on the Fishing Vessel Safety & IUU Fishing, in Torremolinos, Spain, from 21st to 23rd Oct. 2019.