Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2024

124 INTERVIEW Uniting the industry for safer shipping Hiroyuki Yamada of the IMO gives Rebecca Gibson an insight into the organisation’s critical role in protecting ships, seafarers and passengers at sea Safety has been at the forefront of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) activities since it was founded in 1948. In 2024, the organisation will mark 50 years since the adoption of the current Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention, which established minimum standards for ship operators to prevent disasters and protect lives. The IMO continues to review and update regulations based on new research, data and technologies, as well as geopolitical, economic and other challenges. “Operators must never compromise on safety when it comes to protecting passengers and crew,” says Hiro Yamada, director of the IMO’s maritime safety division. “Our World Maritime Theme for 2024 – Navigating the future: safety first – reflects the IMO’s work to enhance maritime safety and security, in tandem with protecting the marine environment, while ensuring the regulatory development process safely anticipates the fast pace of technological change and innovation.” One of the IMO’s latest goals is to ensure the safe transition to zeroemission shipping after adopting a revised greenhouse gas emissions strategy in July 2023. The aim is to generate at least five per cent of the energy the global shipping fleet uses by zero or near-zero greenhouse gas emissions technologies, fuels and/or energy sources by 2030, and to achieve zero emissions by or around 2050. “We need to thoroughly consider the safety aspects of the proposed measures,” says Yamada, noting that the industry must adapt how it designs and builds ships to decarbonise. “The IMO has already issued safety guidelines for using LNG, methanol, liquefied petroleum gas, and fuel cells, and is currently developing them for ammonia and hydrogen. We have also approved interim guidelines for ships making international voyages to safely use shore power in ports.” Crucially, says Yamada, seafarers will need additional training to ensure they can safely use these new fuels and technologies. “The IMO is revising the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, and its related code, to ensure the required standards and competencies keep pace with developments.” Improving domestic ferry safety also remains high on the IMO’s agenda. “We did not see any major incidents involving a cruise ship in 2023, but unfortunately there were a number of fatalities on domestic ferries,” says Yamada. “In April 2022, the Maritime Safety Committee adopted the IMO Model Regulations on Domestic Ferry Safety, which cover issues such as certification, manning, safety management, navigation and communications equipment, and lifesaving appliances. The IMO is now rolling out workshops to support countries to use and transcribe the regulations into national maritime law.” The IMO is also capitalising on new technologies to help member states improve ferry safety education. “A project funded by the Republic of Korea and delivered with technical and in-kind contribution by the Korea Maritime Transportation Safety Authority is supporting beneficiary member states – including Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam – to use virtual reality technology to enhance the knowledge and skills of their personnel,” says Yamada. According to Yamada, virtual reality is one of the latest in a long line of technologies that are transforming maritime safety and security. “We’ve seen many technological advancements that have undoubtedly supported safer shipping, and more are being developed,” he says. “These Photo: IMO