The IMO Committees

Apart of the main committees in the IMO: MSC and MEPC; there are other three which are very important:

  • The Legal Committee.
  • The Technical Cooperation Committee.
  • The Facilitation Committee.

Who forms it?

All of them consist on all members of the IMO, as happened with the MSC and the MEPC.

As we pointed out in the last post, the fact that all members are part of the committee is a good idea because is the majority who decide what is going to happen, and not only a few elected ones.

What are they in charge of?    

  • The Legal Committee.

After the Torrey Canyon disaster, the IMO founded this Committee for taking care of any legal issue related with any IMO instrument or legislation in the scope of the Organization.

On each session of this Committee, which are carried out twice a year, they deal with any legal situation that has been sent to the IMO.

  • The Technical Cooperation Committee.

This Committee was created for dealing with countries with problems for implement the IMO instruments.

Even though it is the responsibility of the Governments to implement the Codes and legislation of the Organization, they may not have the technical knowledge for carrying out this task, that is why this Committee exists.

This was established as a subsidiary body of the Council from 1969 until 1984, when it became a Committee.

  • The Facilitation Committee.

As happened with the Technical Cooperation Committee, this was created as a subsidiary body of the Council on 1972, and became a Committee on 2008.

This Committee is in charge of the Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic Convention, meaning that they are in charge of eliminated any unnecessary document related to the International Shipping Industry.

Officer’s Log: Getting promoted is good, but…

Enjoy your position, quote Passengers, learn, focus, autopilot mode once you know your staff

We have always been taught to need to advance, to improve our lives but, since the industrial revolution, the meaning of this improving has become the rank you have on a company or the money you made on it.

People has forgotten that the work you are doing or the money you are making ALWAYS can be better so, what is the point of worrying about your position or your salary (on a rational level, mates).

When I joined the merchant navy, I joined for becoming captain but, while I was studying, my classmates and I discovered the figure of the Harbor pilot. This figure has usually been described as “someone who has more power on the bridge and make more money than the Captain” (please, don’t consider this description as true).

Once we knew that, automatically we wanted to become pilots.

Now that I have spent some time at sea, I can’t stop thinking that none of us thought about the cadet position, or the 3rd officer position, or the 2nd officer position, neither the chief officer position.

It is good to put your aspiration up with the stars, but you shouldn’t forget to put your feet on each step, slowly, firmly.

The way I think now is that, after more than a year as 2nd officer, I know how to carry out my job so know I can focus on learning deeply about the procedures regarding my position, the rest of the things that are related to my vessel and, also, the job of the higher and inferior workers on my vessel. Summarizing, know that I know how to do my job, I can enjoy learning many things so, what’s the point on hurrying up to reach the next position?

I am writing this words because I found many colleagues that, as soon as they get theirs Chief Officers CoC they want to get the position, and most even think that they deserve it as if they know already everything…

For me, I like to live according to one quote I heard on the film “Passengers”:

You can’t get so hung up on where you’d rather be that you forget to make the most of where you are

The Marine Environment Protection Committee

We saw on the last post that along with the Maritime Safety Committee, the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC from now on) are the most important OMI’s Committees since they are in charge of the most important tasks in the Organization.

If the MSC was in charge of the Safety at sea, this Committee is in charge of the protection of the seas, avoiding and controlling pollution from ships.

Who forms it?

As happens in the MSC, this Committee is open to all members of the IMO.

In my opinion the fact that all members are part of the Committee is a good thing even though coming to terms about something can be really difficult sometimes.

As we will see, Assembly and Council are form by elected members and they change after a few years. But implement this structure in all committees could be messy with so many elections being carried out.

What are they in charge of?

Although MARPOL 73/78 was approved by the Assembly, circulars and resolutions about this Code and about pollution prevention at sea belongs to the MEPC.

An example of those resolutions we can mention the Resolution MEPC.282(70) about the SEEMP

Sub-Committees

The MSC and the MEPC don’t work alone. They count with the assistance of a number of sub-committees (SC from now on) which is also open to all member states.

  • SC on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW).
  • SC on Implementation of IMO Instruments (III).

The focus on the certification, survey, casualties and Port State Control. They also help to Member States with their difficulties in the implementation and enforcement of IMO.

  • SC on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR).
  • SC on Pollution Prevention Response (PPR).
  • SC on Ship Design and Construction (SDC).
  • SC on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE).
  • SC on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers (CCC).

The Maritime Safety Committee

As we saw on the last post, the IMO have several committees. Five of them are considered the main ones, while the others are called sub-committees.

The Maritime Safety Committee is, along with the Maritime Environment Protection Committee, the most important committee of the IMO due to the task they are in charge of.

Since the IMO was created, the main aim of it was the maritime safety, and this function was assigned to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC from now on).

Who forms it?

All members of the IMO can be members of the MSC. So on each session, all members of the Organization can participate for implement changes on the codes or approving new ones.

What are they in charge of?

If you have ever studied something related with safety at sea or read an International Code published by the IMO, for sure you would have find a statement similar to this one: “Amended by resolution MSC.XXX(YY)”. Well, this “MSC” means that this was approved by the Committee we are speaking about here.

Even though this could sound logical, it is needed to point that this is the Committee that regulates the SOLAS Convention.

They are responsible for many resolutions as the resolution MSC. 353(92) regarding the ISM Code.

We will see all of them (and so other more) deeply here in further posts.

Please don’t think that the MSC only does resolutions, they also publish circulars. A circular is a document including information regarding safety. This won’t be exactly “mandatory” but, as we will see when we will analyze the ISM Code, would be added by regulations in some important documents maritime safety related (like the Safety Management Manual). An example of those circular can be the MSC. 1/ Circ.1578 “Guidelines on Safety During Abandon Ship Drills Using Lifeboats”.

Summarizing

To sum up, we can see that the MSC is responsible for all the amendments and many recommendations regarding safety at sea. That’s why the MSC is considered one of the most important committees in the IMO, and it is probably one of the busiest bodies inside the Organization

Officer’s Log: Vessel on anchorage with poor visibility

While I was on anchorage, in a situation with strong rain, the visibility was less than a mile. For this reason, I decided to inform captain about the situation and I called him to his Office.

Captain came to the bridge and evaluated the situation. Then, testing me, he asked me which was the signal for a vessel on anchorage on a poor visibility situation. That question was a tramp in case you haven’t realized it yet.

I answered without hesitation that we should put a signal that, on intervals on not more than 2 minutes, will sound with one short blast, one long blast and another short blast, but, if we go to the COLREG’s rule 35 (g), we can read:

A vessel at anchor shall at intervals of not more than one minute ring the bell rapidly for about 5 seconds. In a vessel of 100 m or more in length the bell shall be sounded in the forepart of the vessel and immediately after the ringing of the bell the gong shall be sounded rapidly for about 5 seconds in the after part of the vessel. A vessel at anchor may in addition sound three blasts in succession, namely one short, one prolonged and one short blast, to give warning of her position and of the possibility of collision to an approaching vessel.

Lesson learned: Blasts is only if a vessel is approaching, it is not necessary to put them if you are alone, you will only get yourself killed by your crew mates because they cannot sleep. Keep the bell ringing sounding and a sharp lookout on AIS, RADAR and by eyesight and only put blasts when needed.

How to calculate the swinging circle for a ship on anchorage

The idea of this post came to my mind while I was on anchorage as 2/O on board the M/F Al Andalus Express. Who knows, maybe while you are reading it I’m still on anchorage.

On board we had one ECDIS equipment capable of create an anchor watch zone, but this was so simple that you only needed to put the radius of the circle of watch and that is. Seeing this I remembered when, while I was cadet on the M/T Petroport I had to make the calculation of the swinging circle of the ship on paper charts. I still remember that was the 2/O Rubén who taught me how to do this.

This calculation is quite simple but, for doing it properly we will need a some information.

The first date is really easy to get. It is the Length overall of the vessel, which you can get, for example, from the pilot card.

The next one is the rode. This is defined as:

The anchor line, rope or cable connecting the anchor chain to the vessel

It can sound a little tricky, isn’t it? But I can show you a little trick to get it, with only two positions.

  1. You need to note the exact position of the place where you drop the anchor.
  2. You need to note the exact position where, after dropping the anchor, your vessel is considered to be on anchorage.

Once you have those two positions, you can put them in your chart and get the distance between them.

After the rode you need to get the Depth, which is easy to get using the sounder or the charts.

Finally, you’ll need to know your freeboard.

With all that information, and being sure that you have all of them in the proper units, you only need to put them in the next formula:

Swinging circle = L.O.A+\sqrt{Rode^2-(Depth+Freeboard)^2}