The IMO sub-committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE) met in London between 4th and 8th March, 2019.
All agreements made at the meeting and listed below are subject to final approval by MSC 101 in June, 2019.
SOLAS allows life-saving appliances and arrangements to deviate from prescriptive requirements, provided an equivalent level of safety is achieved and the intent of the requirements is met.
To define that intent, goals, functional requirements and expected performance criteria for SOLAS Ch. III on life-saving appliances were agreed upon. The draft amendments to the ‘Guidelines on alternative design and arrangements for SOLAS Chapters II-1 and III’ (MSC.1/Circ.1212) are applicable to all cargo and passenger ships, however more relevant for passenger ships carrying, for example, large life boats exceeding the maximum carrying capacity of a ‘standard’ LSA Code life boat (150 persons).
The IMO is also developing new ventilation requirements for survival craft to reduce the risk of overheating and high CO2 concentrations inside the craft. New ventilation requirements for totally enclosed life boats specifies a ventilation rate of at least 5 cu m per hour per person. For alternative designs, the expected performance is that the CO2 concentration shall not be higher than 5,000 ppm. Related LSA Code amendments are intended to be applicable to all cargo and passenger ships.
Prototype test requirements for ventilation of totally enclosed life boats, and design requirements for ventilation of other than totally enclosed life boats, will be further discussed at SSE 7 (March, 2020).
In addition, draft interim guidelines for life-saving appliances on board ships operating in Polar waters were finalised, providing recommendations for all ships, both new and existing.
The guidelines outline recommendations for mitigating hazards, based on assessment criteria such as maximum expected time of rescue, icing of life-saving appliances, operation in extended periods of darkness, and abandonment into ice or on land.
It should be noted that the capacity of the survival craft may be affected by the recommendations to carry additional clothing, survival equipment and water. Actual capacity adjustment, if any, would depend on the overall LSA concept, also considering inter alia insulation and heating of the LSA, the IMO said.
Another agreement concerned measures for minimising the incidences and consequences of fires on ro-ro spaces and special category spaces of new and existing ropaxes.
The draft interim guidelines address inter alia operational measures to reduce the risk associated with reefer units and electrical systems in general on ro-ro spaces, and further advice on how to best design fire safety systems on board new ropaxes.
Specific measures, such as enhanced fire detection, CCTV and non-open ro-ro decks are advised for new ropaxes. Vessels having DNV GL additional class notation F (A, M, C), 2018 or later editions, will be in line with this best practice.
Owners and ship operators are further advised to revisit existing ropaxes having open ro-ro decks or weather decks to ensure that these have a sufficient distance between permanent openings in these open ro-ro spaces and survival craft.
Draft guidelines for safe operation of onshore power in ports will be further considered, including the necessity of amendments to SOLAS Chapters II-1 and II-2. It was agreed that the guidelines should be operational, leaving technical requirements to the appropriate instruments. The guidelines will be further discussed at SSE 7.