Tripartite Forum says IMO bodies MSC and MEPC must work together more effectively

MEPC 74 session. Credit: IMO

Ship safety in the face of decarbonisation, changing fuels, and container ship fires sat at the centre of a trialogue between the industry’s shipowners, shipbuilders, and classification societies at the eighth successive annual Tripartite Forum in October.

Forum participants also reached consensus that the relevant International Maritime Organization (IMO) bodies such as the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) and Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) must work together more effectively.

Established in 2002, the Tripartite Forum facilitates discussions between the three core pillars of the industry to address complex issues and propose proactive steps to improve the design, construction, and operability of ships to benefit the environment, the safety of ships and seafarers, and the quality of life at sea through one united forum. Tripartite Forum members include INTERCARGO, BIMCO, the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), the Active Shipbuilding Experts’ Federation (ASEF), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), INTERTANKO, the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF), SEA Europe, and the Community of European Shipyards’ Associations (CESA).

This latest edition of the Tripartite Forum was held in Tokyo in mid-October, during which the 90 participants acknowledged that close and transparent co-operation between all stakeholders will be more necessary than ever in view of the significant environmental, economic, and technological challenges being faced by the shipping industry, and society as a whole.

Regarding ship safety, the forum concluded that the safe design of ships and equipment continues to be a key area of focus. Noting that full decarbonisation is likely only possible through the development and the use of a range of alternative fuels, many of which carry with them significant safety issues that will need to be addressed.

Tripartite Forum participants also agreed that the increasing number of reported fires on container ships will necessitate greater transparency in cargo declaration and improvements in how fires are detected and extinguished. Improvements in ship design and operations are often the result of lessons learned after accidents or near misses, which highlights the need for timely and accurate accident reporting.

Topics on the forum’s agenda adjacent to ship safety included the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, digitalisation, and pollution prevention.