The 9th session of the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE 9) was held between 27th February and 3rd March, 2023.
ICSI has highlighted a few discussions where they pertain to passenger carrying ships.
During the session, the draft of new SOLAS requirements to minimise the incidence and consequences of fires on ro-ro passenger ships was finalised, and the requirement to ventilate totally enclosed lifeboats was also agreed.
Earlier, the IMO’s MSC 106 had approved draft amendments to the Life-Saving Appliances (LSA) Code to require ventilation of totally enclosed lifeboats.
The draft of the new regulations intends to provide a habitable environment and prevent high concentrations of CO2 inside the craft and will require a ventilation rate of at least 5 cu m per hour per person.
SSE 9 finalised consequential draft amendments for:
- the revised recommendations on the testing of life-saving appliances (Resolution MSC.81(70))
- the revised standardised life-saving appliance evaluation and test report forms (survival craft) (MSC.1/Circ.1630/Rev.1)
- the requirements for maintenance, thorough examination, and operational testing of LSA (Resolution MSC.402(96)).
SSE 9 considered any compelling need for ventilation requirements for partially enclosed lifeboats and liferafts but did not reach an agreement. SSE 10, due in February, 2024, will continue the discussion on the need for such requirements.
The new draft amendments are expected to enter into force on 1st January, 2026 and to be applied to survival craft installed on or after 1st January, 2029, subject to adoption by MSC 107 (June, 2023).
As for fires on ropaxes, the number of incidents on vehicle decks has grown over the past decade. The physical extent of these vehicle decks could potentially allow a fire to spread over the full length of a ship.
Hence, for ropaxes, extinguishing and containing a fire is particularly critical.
SSE 9 finalised several draft amendments to SOLAS Chapter II-2, the FSS Code and MSC.1/Circ.1430 to reduce the risk of fire in ro-ro and special category spaces on new and existing ropaxes, considering the:
- arrangement of ro-ro spaces for new
- arrangement of weather decks for new
- water monitors on weather decks of existing ropaxes.
In addition, SSE 9 agreed on draft amendments to the FFS Code regarding specifications for linear heat detection systems, as well as a clarification of the term ‘free height’ of a protected space in the revised guidelines for the design and approval of fixed water-based fire-fighting systems for ro-ro spaces and special category spaces (MSC./Circ.1430/Rev.1).
These draft amendments will be submitted to this June’s MSC 107 for approval and are expected to enter into force on 1st January, 2026.
SSE 9 also finalised amendments to the LSA Code and the revised recommendation on the testing of life-saving appliances (Resolution MSC.81(70)) to address in-water performance of SOLAS life jackets, ie to specify the criteria for recognising a successful turn of a test subject.
Consequential draft amendments to the revised standardised life-saving appliance evaluation and test report forms (MSC.1/Circ.1628) were agreed accordingly.
The draft amendments will be submitted to MSC 107 for approval.
MSC 106 approved draft amendments to SOLAS Chapter II-2 and the HSC Codes (1994 and 2000) to prohibit the use of fire fighting foams containing perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) from 1st January, 2026.
SSE 9 agreed to propose to MSC 107 that the scope of work be expanded to consider prohibiting the use of fire fighting foams containing fluorinated substances, in addition to PFOS.
Also agreed was a draft Unified Interpretation of the LSA Code to clarify the requirements to spare light sources for LED torches.
Draft consequential amendments to MSC.1/Circ.1276 on ‘Unified interpretations to SOLAS chapter II-2’ to align the interpretations with the amendments to SOLAS II-2/9.7 as adopted by MSC.365(93) were also agreed.
These draft amendments address arrangements and separation of ventilation ducts, including galley ducts, when they pass through spaces.
SSE 9 finalised the draft of interim guidelines on the safe operation of onshore power supply (OPS) service in port.
Following the global efforts to reduce air pollution from ships, an increasing number of ports require or encourage ships to use shore power instead of fuel oil. The draft of the interim guidelines intends to prevent accidents caused by operational errors in relation to ships’ connections to shore power.
The interim guidelines draft will be submitted to MSC 107 for approval.
Different understandings of terms such as ‘make’ and ‘type’ related to the servicing of life-saving appliances has caused inconsistent application of the requirements to maintenance, thorough examination, operational testing, overhaul and repair of lifeboats and rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear (Resolution MSC.402(96).
A draft justification, prepared by SSE 9, for addressing this matter under a separate agenda item will be submitted to MSC 107 for approval.