A set of draft guidelines due for final voting at MSC 101 in June, 2019, will address a number of important concerns and reflect a new regulation philosophy that promises more flexibility.
While in the past, IMO and other regulatory bodies typically issued regulations in response to incidents, the trend today is to be pro-active while pursuing a goal-based regulatory approach that defines what should be achieved, rather than how to achieve it, DNV GL said in an industry note.
This provides flexibility for designers to reap the full benefits of advanced technology. A number of IMO draft guidelines, which are subject to approval by MSC 101 and will likely enter into force on 1st January, 2024, will take this approach.
For example, mooring operations involve hazardous activities. IMO has therefore reviewed and amended the relevant SOLAS requirements and drafted new and revised guidelines for new ships; the inspection and maintenance requirements for mooring equipment, including lines, are expected to be applied retroactively.
The Polar Code, in force since 2017, was just the beginning: IMO has developed recommendations for navigation and communications equipment, as well as for life-saving appliances for ships operating in Polar waters.
This new guidance document addresses environmental factors, such as Polar temperatures, mechanical shock testing to withstand icebreaking situations, ice accretion and battery performances in cold temperatures.
Furthermore, the guidelines for life-saving appliances and arrangements (LSA) outline recommendations for mitigating hazards based on assessment criteria, such as maximum expected time of rescue, operation at Polar service temperatures, operation in ice, ice accretion of life-saving appliances and arrangements, the effect of operation in high latitudes, operation in extended periods of darkness and the possibility of abandonment into ice or land.
It should be noted that the recommendations to carry additional clothing, survival equipment and water may affect the capacity of the survival craft. However, the actual capacity adjustment, if any, would be dependent on factors such as insulation and heating of the LSA.
To address fire risks on ro-ro decks of passenger ships, typically associated with reefer units and electrical systems, IMO has agreed on draft interim guidelines detailing operational measures and recommendations for the design of fire safety systems on board new ropaxes, such as enhanced fire detection technology, CCTV and non-open ro-ro decks.
Vessels with DNV GL additional class notation F (A, M, C), 2018 or later are already in line with this best practice, the class society said.
Owners and ship operators are encouraged to review their ropaxes with open vehicle decks or weather decks to ensure there is a sufficient distance between permanent openings and the survival craft.
To protect residents of port cities and coastal regions from ship exhaust gas emissions, authorities increasingly require the use of shore power when ships are in port. IMO is developing guidelines for safe operation of onshore power and is considering potential regulatory amendments. Specific technical requirements will be left to the relevant instruments.
The IMO draft amendments to the guidelines on alternative design and arrangements for SOLAS Chapter II-1 and III (MSC.1/Circ.1212) will allow life-saving appliances and arrangements to deviate from prescriptive requirements, provided an equivalent level of safety is achieved and the intent of the SOLAS requirements are met. IMO defines goals, functional requirements and expected performance criteria providing flexibility in the design of alternative and innovative life-saving appliances.
An entirely different set of conditions complicate rescue operations at high outside temperatures: in a totally enclosed lifeboat full of people, conditions can quickly become unbearable. IMO has therefore developed ventilation requirements for survival craft to reduce the risk of overheating and high CO2 concentrations, proposing a minimum ventilation rate of 5 cu m per hour per person, respectively and that CO2 concentrations are not to exceed 5,000 ppm.
These amendments to the LSA Code will apply to all cargo and passenger ships.
IMO has reviewed the SOLAS design criteria for watertight integrity for consistency with the probabilistic damage stability approach introduced in 2009. A proposed amendment addressing watertight doors and other elements reflects the introduction of safety centres and stability computers in passenger ships and aims to better cover all watertight boundaries on or above the a passenger ship’s bulkhead deck.
DNV GL recommended owners and operators monitor the outcome of MSC 101 in June, 2019 and to prepare for implementation of approved amendments to mandatory IMO instruments accordingly.