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Houthi Militia: IMO Scribe, Dominguez Talks Tough Over Hijack Of Crew Aboard RORO Vessel

Arsenio Dominguez, Secretary General of IMO

By Roland Ekama

International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General Arsenio Dominguez has called for immediate release of the Galaxy Leader and its crew.

Speaking at the opening of the 10th Session of the IMO Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction on Monday Secretary-General Dominguez took the opportunity to highlight the situation in the Red Sea.

“I wish to take this opportunity to reiterate my strong condemnation of attacks against international shipping in the area and call for an immediate release of the Galaxy Leader and its crew,” he said.

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The car carrier Galaxy Leader owned by Ray Car Carriers and chartered by NYK was hijacked by Houthi Militia in the Red Sea in mid-November starting a crisis that has seen over 30 commercial vessels attacked in the following two months. The vessel and its 25 crew continue to be held hostage in Houthi controlled Yemen.

The scribe re-echoed that “I will continue to reiterate my three key messages on the situation: seafarers are innocent victims, and their safety is paramount; the principle of freedom of navigation should be uphold and allow safe trade of essential goods; and call for de-escalation of the situation.”

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The full speech delivered by IMO Secretary-General Arsenio Dominguez on 22 January 2024

Good morning distinguished delegates and observers. I am pleased to welcome you all to the tenth session of the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction; and, as this is the first meeting of the year, a very happy New Year to you all.

I wish to assure you that I fully recognize the critical importance of this Sub-Committee and its pivotal role in ensuring IMO regulations provide for ships that are inherently safe by designs and constructions, including structural safety and stability.

It is with great concern that I must highlight the regrettable situation developing in the Red Sea on my first meeting as Secretary-General. I wish to take this opportunity to reiterate my strong condemnation of attacks against international shipping in the area and call for an immediate release of the Galaxy Leader and its crew.

I will continue to reiterate my three key messages on the situation: seafarers are innocent victims, and their safety is paramount; the principle of freedom of navigation should be uphold and allow safe trade of essential goods; and call for de-escalation of the situation.

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This year’s World Maritime theme is: “Navigating the future: safety first!”. This theme underscores our unwavering commitment to upholding the highest safety standards across all aspect of this Organization’s regulatory work while facing the challenges of a fast-changing world, in particular with respect to developments in technology, artificial intelligence and new threats facing the shipping industry.

Your Sub-Committee has a number of important matters to consider and to deliver but I would like to highlight in particular the importance of implementing the recently approved Revised guidelines on the reduction of underwater radiated noise from ships which are a crucial contribution to minimize the adverse effects ship noise has on the marine environment, in particular marine wildlife and indigenous communities.

It is now important to develop an Action Plan that ensures that the Revised Guidelines are being applied with a view to significantly reducing not only underwater-radiated noise, but also contributing to more energy efficient ships emitting less GHG.

I wish to single out another important aspect of your work and, in this respect, remind you of the achievement of this Sub-Committee in completing the Interim guidelines on the second generation intact stability criteria, as well as the associated Explanatory Notes, which are to be used to assess modern ship designs and their ability to withstand the forces of the sea. I urge you to continue the process of improving the intact stability criteria in a seaway condition by providing research results and reporting on their practical application.

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This would ensure that the Interim Guidelines will be reviewed and replaced with a more robust instrument related to intact stability criteria in the near future.

Distinguished delegates,

You have several important matters to address this week, but I am confident that, under the expert guidance of your Chair, Mr. Erik Tvedt of Denmark, ably supported by your Vice-Chair, Mr. Jaideep Sirkar of the United States, as well as the staff of the Maritime Safety Division, you will be able to successfully navigate through all the challenges.

In conclusion, I extend best wishes to you for every success in your deliberations; and I invite you all to join me and the Secretariat at my welcome reception in the Delegates’ Lounge after the close of today’s business.

Thank you very much and I wish you the very best this week.