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Publication released on World Mental Health Day to promote the recognition of mental wellbeing as a key component of the health of seafarers, who live and work in conditions which sometimes generate not only physical but also psychological challenges.


In a joint initiative, the American Club and Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) have cooperated to produce a new guide, Caring for Seafarers’ Mental Wellbeing, due for release on October 10 in recognition of World Mental Health Day, 2018.

The document provides guidance on responding to both routine and extreme stressors impacting the quality of life and safety of seafarers both ashore and afloat, and seeks to promote awareness generally of the importance of seafarer mental wellbeing.


Numerous maritime organizations have supported recent initiatives to enhance understanding about the emotional – and psychological – highs and lows of life at sea, and thousands of seafarers have shared their personal stories with SCI staff amid routine, stressful, or tragic circumstances.


The Rev. David M. Rider, President & Executive Director, Seaman’s Church Institute, said:


“Coming from our insurance and humanitarian perspectives respectively, the American Club and the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) share a passion and deep respect for the human factors involved in safe maritime commerce and quality of life for those who work on ships around the world.

With nearly 300 years of combined maritime service, our organizations know intimately the triumphs, tragedies, and risks associated with maritime life. Together, we want to better understand the root causes of failure and the unique DNA of resilience embodied by seafarers at work 24/7/365 to support our modern way of life.”

Extreme stress can make seafarers vulnerable to mental health issues. No research has shown that seafarers suffer different rates of mental health problems than the general population or other working occupations. However, the World Health Organization has estimated that at any given time, approximately 20% of the adult population have a mental health problem, and that these mental health issues have attendant costs, for example, $192 billion in lost earnings per year in the United States alone.


Joseph E.M. Hughes, Chairman and CEO, Ship owners Claims Bureau, Inc., Managers for the American Club, said:


“Service at sea is a particularly challenging vocation. It entails, in addition to often hard physical work, and sometimes real danger, dislocation from family and friends, native cultures, and the many other elements of psychological contentment.


It is particularly important, therefore, that all stakeholders in maritime enterprise are conscious of the emotional challenges that arise from these conditions of seafarer service, and that they are equipped to handle their consequences.


The American Club is particularly proud to have worked on the production of this booklet with the SCI. By learning from seafarers and educating the industry in this way, we seek to raise the profile of mental wellbeing as a key component of a healthy and effective working environment for seafarers.


It is by no means exhaustive on the subject, but it is hoped that those who use it to enhance awareness of mental health as a real dimension of service at sea will find it to be useful in progressing their aims.”




The US Coast Guard released a new Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (02-95, Change 3) on “The Alternate Compliance Program (ACP).” This change incorporates various policies and related provisions consistent with the Commandant’s Final Action Memo (FAM) on the sinking of the ‘El Faro’.


Under the ACP, the majority of vessel statutory certification and services are performed by Recognized Organizations (RO) on behalf of the USCG. The primary purpose of this change is to align the ACP with applicable IMO instruments, including the provisions of the International Code for Recognized Organizations (RO Code).


The RO Code became effective on 1 January 2015, and serves as an international standard and consolidated instrument containing minimum criteria against which organizations are assessed towards authorization and oversight guidelines by flag States.


Major changes include:


  • Aligned procedures and terminology with the RO Code. Since domestic regulations predate the RO Code, for the purposes of this NVIC, the term “RO”, as defined in the RO Code, includes Authorized Classification Societies (ACSs) as defined in 46 CFR 8.100 that are authorized to participate in the ACP under 46 CFR 8.420, and where those same ROs are delegated authority under 33 CFR part 96, subpart D.


  • Integrated ACP program management with the Coast Guard’s Mission Management System (MMS), which is an International Standards Organization (ISO) 9001 based Quality Management System in order to support key Coast Guard internal business processes, information flows, reporting and data analytics.


  • Incorporated other procedures and instructions, including the ACP Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP) and various MMS documents (e.g., MMS Work Instructions), which focus on individual aspects of the ACP and facilitate more frequent programmatic updates. OCMIs, participating Companies, and ROs are encouraged to reference these products for additional guidance on ACP processes and administration.


  • Accepted that transfers of vessel classification may be completed under the provisions of International Association of Classification Societies Procedural Requirement 1A.


  • Provided details on the Coast Guard’s Fleet Risk Index for vessels enrolled in the ACP.


  • Removed provision for involuntary disenrollment from the ACP.




According to a report by ReCAAP ISC, perpetrators boarded the container ship at Guayaquil River in Ecuador, on October 2. The perpetrators assaulted one of the crew, but all of the crewmembers escaped and took hide.


While sailing under pilot at Guayaquil River in Ecuador, a group of perpetrators boarded the vessel. The master notified the local authorities when he saw unauthorised persons on board.


The perpetrators assaulted one of the crew and sustained a small cut on his forehead. Luckily, all of the crewmembers managed to escape and hide in the forecastle store. There was no injury to the remaining crew and no items were stolen.


The perpetrators left the ship when they realised that they had been discovered.


A little later the Ecuador Coast Guard (ECG) conducted a search on the ship and no perpetrator was found. The injured crew was given first-aid treatment, and the ship continued its voyage.




The 73rd session of IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee will take place on 22-26 October 2018, at IMO Headquarters in London, focusing on key environmental challenges facing the shipping industry. Among the key topics on the agenda are the hot issues of the GHG reduction from ships and 2020 sulphur cap, as well as marine litter and BWM Convention.


Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships

The MEPC is expected to develop and agree a programme of actions to implement the initial IMO strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships, which was adopted in April 2018.


An Intersessional Working Group, meeting the week preceding MEPC 73, on 15-19 October, is expected to initiate this work and will report to the Committee.


Feeding in to the process towards adoption of a revised Strategy in 2023 will be the data collection system on fuel oil consumption of ships over 5,000 gross tons, which begins on 1 January 2019; and a fourth IMO GHG study, to be initiated in the first half of 2019.

Further work on energy efficiency of ships (EEDI)

The MEPC will receive a report on progress by the correspondence group on review of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) “beyond phase 2”. The correspondence group has submitted an interim report to MEPC 73 with a final report due to be submitted to MEPC 74 (Spring 2019), providing a recommendation on the time period and reduction rates for EEDI “phase 3” requirements. This could lead to a tightening of requirements for certain new ships.

Implementation of sulphur 2020 limit

The 0.50% limit on sulphur in ships’ fuel oil will be applicable globally from 1 January 2020- while in designated emission control areas (ECAs) the limit will remain even lower, at 0.10%. IMO has been working with Member States and the industry to support implementation of the new limit.


MEPC 73 is expected to approve ship implementation planning guidance as well as best practice guides for Member States/coastal States and for fuel oil suppliers.


Enforcement, compliance with and monitoring of the new sulphur limit is the remit and responsibility of States Party to MARPOL Annex VI. The MEPC is expected to adopt a complementary MARPOL amendment, which will prohibit the carriage of non-compliant fuel oil – unless the ship has an exhaust gas cleaning system (scrubber) fitted.


Adoption of this amendment would not change in any way the entry into force date of the 0.50% limit from 1 January 2020. It is intended as an additional measure to support consistent implementation and compliance and enforcement by States, particularly port State control.



Marine plastic litter


​MEPC will consider a number of proposals to address the issue of marine plastic litter from shipping, in the context of 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14) on the oceans.


A number of proposals have been put forward for consideration, covering issues such as a proposed study on the state of marine plastic litter; looking into the availability and adequacy of port reception facilities; looking at marking and retrieval of fishing gear; reporting the loss of fishing gear and containers; facilitating the delivery of retrieved fishing gear or passively-fished waste to shore facilities; reviewing training; raising awareness; and strengthening international cooperation.


The Committee is expected to develop and agree on an action plan to address marine plastic litter, and to agree on the scope of work for the relevant Sub-Committees, in particular the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR).


BWM treaty implementation


The BWM Convention entered into force in September 2017 and has, to date, been ratified by 77 countries, representing 77.17% of world merchant shipping tonnage. Amendments to the treaty, relating to implementation of the convention, were adopted at the last session.


The MEPC has recognized that there may be a need for future improvements to the BWM Convention in the light of experience gained.


Based on the experience and feedback gained, as well as the analysis of the data gathered, draft amendments to the Convention could be put forward for consideration at MEPC 79 (in 2022). The Committee will be updated on the status of preparations for data gathering and will consider how to provide the necessary support for the experience-building phase to be administered and executed.


With the Convention in force and the focus now on its effective and uniform implementation, including the experience-building phase, the Committee will consider how matters related to ballast water management should be addressed in a more structured way, through the establishment of clearly defined outputs to organize and prioritize further work.


MEPC 73 is expected to approve Guidance on System Design Limitations of BWM systems and their monitoring, and to consider draft Guidance on validation of the compliance of individual BWMS with regulation D-2 of the BWM Convention in conjunction with their commissioning. The inclusion of contingency measures in the ballast water management plan will also be considered.


MEPC 73 will also consider proposals for approval of BWMS that make use of Active Substances.


Use and carriage of HFO as fuel by ships in Arctic waters


​IMO has agreed that its Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR) should develop a ban on HFO for use and carriage as fuel by ships in Arctic waters, based on an assessment of the impacts of such a ban. MEPC 73 will consider, with a view to approval, an appropriate impact assessment methodology process.


Currently, the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil is banned in the Antarctic under MARPOL Annex I regulation 43. It is recommended in the Polar Code that the same rules are applied in the Arctic waters.


MARPOL amendments – high-viscosity substances


​MEPC is expected to consider approving, for future adoption, draft amendments to MARPOL Annex II to strengthen, in specified sea areas, discharge requirements for tank washings containing persistent floating products with a high-viscosity and/or a high melting point that can solidify under certain conditions (e.g. certain vegetable oils and paraffin-like cargoes).


The draft amendments follow concerns about the environmental impact of permissible discharges of such products and would tighten requirements for the discharge from ships of tank washings containing such product.


Approval of guidance and other matters


Amongst other matters, the MEPC is expected to:


  • Adopt the draft 2018 Guidelines for the discharge of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) bleed-off water.
  • Approve (for adoption in 2019) draft amendments to the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships carrying Dangerous
  • Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code), including the draft revised chapters 17 (Summary of minimum requirements), 18 (List of products to which the code does not apply), 19 (Index of Products Carried in Bulk) and 21 (Criteria for assigning carriage requirements for products subject to the IBC Code).
  • Approve a draft MEPC circular on Guidelines for the carriage of energy-rich fuels and their blends.
  • Approve the draft part IV of the Guidelines for the use of dispersants for combating oil pollution at sea, which focuses on the sub-sea application of dispersant.
  • Approve, for subsequent adoption, draft Guidelines for the use of electronic record books under MARPOL and associated draft amendments to MARPOL and the NOX Technical Code.

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