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Passenger Safety Rules Likely to Change Due to Costa Concordia

The IMO has been looking at passenger safety at its latest sessions – and according to new rules on cruise ship safety to emerge from IMO MSC91, it seems that in light of the Costa Concordia, passenger safety drills must take place before or straight after the ship departs.

At its meeting last month, the IMO’s maritime safety committee approved draft amendments to chapter III of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention to require newly embarked passengers to be put through muster immediately, instead of “within 24 hours” as the current regulations require for ships whose passengers will remain on board for more than 24 hours. If 24 hours is a long time in politics – it can be a lifetime in shipping – and when the Concordia grounded, it was clear that change was needed. The draft amendments will now be circulated for consideration, with a view to being adopted at the next session, MSC 92, in June 2013, and could enter into force at the end of 2014.

The preliminary investigation into the Concordia loss has recommended several revisions to SOLAS, which include: additional guidance on common elements to be included in passenger muster and emergency instructions; recommending that the nationality of each person on board is recorded; guidance on lifeboat loading for training purposes; and for companies owning and/or operating passenger ships to require the ship’s master to ensure that changes to the voyage plan are consistent with company policies.

The committee has also called for a review of the way that emergency instructions are disseminated and communicated on board passenger ships and that access to the bridge should be limited to those with operational or related functions during periods of restricted manoeuvring, or while manoeuvring in conditions that the master or company bridge procedures and policy deems to require increased vigilance.
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