A set of important amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and various codes mandatory under the Convention entered into force on 1st January, 2020.
The IMO has listed the details and ICSI has reproduced the amendments where they affect passenger ships:
Subdivision and damage stability – A set of amendments to SOLAS chapter II-1 relating to subdivision and stability enter into force, amending, among other things, the regulations on the required subdivision of passenger ships to increase their safety, as well as regulations related to the stability information to be provided to a ship’s Master.
The amendments were developed following a substantive review of SOLAS chapter II-1, focusing in particular on new passenger ships. The review took into account recommendations arising from the investigation into the 2012 ‘Costa Concordia’ casualty.
Planning for evacuation on cruise ships -Requirements for all new passenger ships carrying more than 36 passengers to be built with evacuation analysis early in the design process came into force.
The amendments to SOLAS regulation II-2/13 extended the requirements for evacuation analysis to all passenger ships, not just ro-ro passenger ships. The analysis should be used to identify and eliminate, as far as practicable, congestion which may develop during an abandonment, due to normal movement of passengers and crew along escape routes, including the possibility that crew may need to move along these routes in a direction opposite to the movement of passengers.
In addition, the analysis should be used to demonstrate that escape arrangements are sufficiently flexible to provide for the possibility that certain escape routes, assembly stations, embarkation stations or survival craft may not be available as a result of a casualty.
Addressing lifeboat maintenance -Amendments to SOLAS regulations III/3 and III/20 made mandatory the requirements for maintenance, thorough examination, operational testing, overhaul and repair of lifeboats and rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear.
This package of provisions aims to prevent accidents with survival craft and addresses long standing issues, such as the need for a uniform, safe and documented standard related to their servicing, as well as the authorisation, qualification and certification requirements to ensure that a reliable service is provided.
The intention is to ensure that seafarers are confident that they can fully rely on the survival craft at their disposal.
Expanding maritime satellite communications equipment providers – Amendments to chapter IV of SOLAS and some codes provide for a “recognised mobile satellite service” to be installed for maritime distress and safety communications. Previously, the regulations specified an Inmarsat device.
Amendments adopted by MSC 98:
• A set of amendments to SOLAS chapter II-1 relating to subdivision and damage stability. The amendments were developed following a substantive review of chapter II-1, focusing in particular on new passenger ships. In conjunction, the MSC adopted revised explanatory notes to SOLAS chapter II-1 subdivision and damage stability regulations and revised guidance for watertight doors on passenger ships which may be opened during navigation.
• Amendments to SOLAS regulations III/1.4, III/30 and III/37 on damage control drills for passenger ships, to require such drills to take place on all passenger ships from 2020.
Amendments adopted by MSC 99:
• Amendments to SOLAS regulations II-1/1 and II-1/8-1, concerning computerised stability support for the ship’s Master in case of flooding, for existing passenger ships.
• Amendments to annex 3 to the International Code for the Application of Fire Test Procedures, 2010 (2010 FTP Code), concerning fire protection materials and required approval test methods for passenger ships and high-speed craft.