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Tripartite Forum: Shipping Industry meets in Tokyo

Over 90 representatives from ship builders, ship owners and classification societies met in Tokyo on the 17th and 18th October at the 2019 Tripartite Forum. This year, the participants acknowledged that close and transparent cooperation between all stakeholders will be more than ever necessary in view of the significant environmental, economic and technological challenges being faced by the shipping industry and society as a whole.

Working to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions

The reduction of GHG emissions, as set out by the IMO, was the primary focus of the two day meeting with the discussions covering emission reduction strategy, implementation and compliance, resulting in the participants agreeing that the IMO’s 2030 objectives can most likely be met under the existing MARPOL Annex VI regulatory framework in conjunction with short-term measures on improving energy efficiency of the existing fleet. However, the 2050 IMO targets will require significant changes including development of new zero emission technologies, new and sustainable fuels, escalation of R&D efforts and closer cooperation of all stakeholders within the shipping industry. Nevertheless the Forum is optimistic that the targets are achievable, however better and clearer regulation is needed to help achieve these goals and create a conducive environment to incentivise sustainable shipping changes. There is however a general concern that Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) may not be able to meet the EEDI Phase 3 required standards with normal design improvements and this should be appropriately addressed at IMO level.


It was agreed that escalating digitalisation within the industry will offer both operational and logistical efficiencies however it requires a clearly defined regulatory framework in order to safeguard cyber-security, safe operations onboard and equanimity in sharing the legal burden between shipbuilders, OEM’s and ship operators

Ship Safety

The safe design of ships and equipment continues to be a key area of focus for Tripartite. 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, there was consensus that the relevant IMO bodies such as MSC and MEPC must work together more effectively. Tripartite also agreed that the increasing number of reported fires on containerships 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.

Pollution Prevention

Ship owners and ballast water equipment manufacturers shared their concerns and experiences with implementing the Ballast Water Convention, the Forum agreed to continue to share information with the purpose of improving new and existing treatment systems and developing enhanced equipment selection methods by both shipbuilders and operators.

Issues concerning hull biofouling and underwater radiated noise pollution were discussed highlighting a need for further operational/design development. Potential conflicts between GHG reduction targets and methods to improve pollution prevention in other areas such as underwater noise reduction were noted.

About Tripartite

Established in 2002, the Tripartite Forum facilitates ship builders, ship owners and classification societies being able to address complex issues. The guiding spirit of the Tripartite discussion is based on a proactive and creative thinking.


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