Future Ship Safety- A time for Change?

The IMO Symposium on the Future of Ship Safety concluded with a statement urging a comprehensive review of the existing safety regulatory framework.

The IMO Symposium on the Future of Ship Safety,held on 10 and 11 June, at IMO Headquarters in London marked something of a departure from“business as usual” at IMO.Attended by some 500 delegates, it provided an
opportunity for IMO and other sectors of the maritime community to take a step aside from day-to-day business and contemplate the future of ship safety in a holistic and rounded way.The aim of the symposium was to look ahead to the decades to come, and to the ships of the future.Such vessels will be required to meet clear goals and functional requirements to fulfil the safety and, increasingly, the environmental expectations of society– which are growing ever more demanding.The ships of the future must provide a sustainable response to the needs of society, industry and global trade and be operated within a framework that encourages a safety culture beyond mere compliance with statutory requirements. This will require all stakeholders not only to accept their own responsibilities, but to work seamlessly with others to ensure that areas of shared or overlapping responsibility are always fully and effectively addressed.There is a trend towards a more scientific approach, including risk-based methodologies, in the design and operation of the safe ship of today. This trend is set to continue, but it requires structured data collection and analysis methodologies to give shipping a sound basis from which to continuously improve. The advances in technology unavoidably outpace prescriptive regulation. Ships are being built today to meet demands and challenges not thought of until very recently, and the innovation inherent in their design today will find its way into the mainstream design of tomorrow. As such thereis a need to devise a regulatory framework that will encourage designs for safety through technological innovation and promotes operational excellence within clearly accepted high level  parameters. The symposium discussed all these issues from the standpoints of designers, builders, operators, regulators, class and academia, providing the forum for a look over the horizon at the shape of things to come. It pictured the world of the future, and conceptualised shipping in that world. In the context of environmental protection, a combination of regulatory pressure and society’s changing expectations are providing a catalyst for innovation, imagination and blue-sky thinking in ship design. The regulations that make EEDI mandatory are non-prescriptive: which means that, as long as the required energy- efficiency level is attained, ship designers and builders are free to use the most cost-efficient solution or solutions for each particular ship. Ship designers and engineers are already developing a set of design innovations that they can draw on to meet these new challenges. The symposium discussed how such innovative thinking can – and should – also be applied to ship safety. On the first day, the symposium reviewed the current factors influencing ship safety, and questioned whether these factors were moving ship safety in the desirable direction, from the perspectives of the shipping industry, society and others – in view of current challenges, opportunities and driving forces. The second day addressed approaches to ship design, risk  assessment and the human element with a focus on how these elements may best be regulated in the future. The symposium included six international panels of high-level speakers from across the broad spectrum of ship design, construction equipment, operation and regulation, who discussed a wide range of issues impacting the future of ship safety such as recent trends in ship design, how the maritime industry meets the needs of the society, how the economic, environmental and consumer forces influence the maritime  safety, regulatory changes through risk assessment, the human element and the need for change.
Article Reference:IMO
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