IMO Secretary, General William O'Neil, has highlighted the need for widespread and concerted efforts to improve bulk carrier safety.
Speaking at the opening of the 45th session of the IMO Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment (DE) O'Neil said, "Bulk Carrier Safety has been a priority on our agenda for over ten years now and, while certain improvements have been introduced, the work has not been finalized, as we are regrettably reminded from time to time by the continuing loss of bulkers."
He added, "I would therefore encourage, once again, all parties concerned - Governments, industry and technical organizations - to work in unison, not in an isolated manner, to bring the issue to a positive conclusion as soon as possible."
Among other items on a busy agenda, the Sub-Committee has been requested by the Maritime Safety Committee
to work on a number of tasks related to bulk carrier safety that
emerged from the recommendations of the re-opened formal investigation into the loss of the m.v. Derbyshire.
Specifically, the Sub-Committee will be looking at alternative means of sealing up anchor chain pipes to prevent water entry and whether access to chain lockers should be by bolted manholes and not doors. It will also be considering a recommendation that the installation of a level monitoring system in the spaces forward of the collision bulkhead be made mandatory on all capsize bulk carriers and the need for an independent pumping system for such spaces.
The Sub-Committee will also address the idea that classification societies should require shipowners to maintain on board and ashore as-built construction drawings and other plans showing subsequent structural alterations, with the aim of helping shipowners to develop an effective and comprehensive maintenance program for their ships.
This work has been designated a high-priority item in the Sub-Committee's work program and given a target completion date of 2002.