The IMO’s Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment (DE) held its 57th session from Monday 18 through Friday 22 March 2013 under the Chairmanship of Mrs A Jost (GERMANY). Three working groups (WG) and two drafting groups (DG) were formed:

WG1 Development of a Mandatory Code for ships operating in Polar waters, chaired by Mrs J Stemre (NORWAY)

WG2 Development of a new framework of requirement for life-saving appliances, chaired by Dr S Ota (JAPAN)

WG3 Development of requirements for on-board lifting appliances and winches, chaired by Mr R Lakeman (NL)

DG1 Provisions for reduction of noise from commercial shipping and its adverse impact on marine life, chaired by Mrs C Phillips (USA)

DG2 Classification of offshore-industry vessels and consideration of the need for a non-mandatory code for offshore construction support vessels, chaired by Mr P Wilkins (UK)

It should be noted that the sub-committee did not complete its large agenda, possibly an unintended consequence of IMO Council’s recent cost-savings decision to decrease the limit of sub-committee interpreter sessions from 10 to 8 such that Plenary did not sit at all on Thursday 21 March. Member States (understandably), declined to meet without Interpretation, thus effectively wasting a day. However, salient points from the meeting on items of most interest to Intermanager members are as follows:

• PROTECTIVE COATINGS FOR DEDICATED SEAWATER BALLAST TANKS. A revision to MSC.1/Circular 1378 on a Unified interpretation of the performance standard for protective coatings of dedicated seawater ballast tanks in all types of ships and double-side skin spaces of bulk carriers was agreed for submission to MSC 92 for approval.

• LIFEBOAT RELEASE AND RETRIEVAL SYSTEMS. An IACS Unified Interpretation (UI) on the operation and use of Fall Preventer Devices (FPD) was agreed for forwarding to STW so that Seafarers can be instructed accordingly. It seeks to provide guidance on the strength and testing standards to be applied to FPD’s. Note was taken of ICS’ comment that one prominent lifeboat and hook manufacturer will not support the use of FPD on any of its equipment, thus stifling IMO’s work on this matter.

• REVISION OF THE STANDARD SPECIFICATION FOR SHIPBOARD INCINERATORS. MEPC 64 endorsed a recommendation by DE56 that incinerators with a capacity greater than 1,500 KW and up to 4,000 KW can be type-approved under the existing Standard Specification (SS). Following discussion and despite reservations by ICS, the sub-committee agreed DENMARK’s view that no further work on a revision of the SS is currently necessary; MEPC will therefore be invited to note that work on this output has been completed.

• REPORT OF THE LSA CORRESPONDENCE GROUP (CG). Dr Ota (JAPAN) the CG co-ordinator introduced his [praiseworthy] report on the CG’s work. In addition to a comprehensive discussion paper covering most notably, ‘Scope of Application of the requirements, Servicing Station for inflated rescue boats also Areas that could be non-mandatory’, three Annexes were also appended, namely :

(1) Draft MSC Resolution on ‘Requirement for periodic servicing and maintenance of lifeboat and rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear’;

(2) Draft MSC Circular on ‘Guidelines on safety during abandon ship drills using lifeboats’; and

(3) Preliminary draft amendments to SOLAS Chapter III.
Following lengthy discussion, culminating in agreed textual changes and additions, the Annexes will now be sent to MSC 92 for its due consideration. As a footnote to this item, ILAMA expressed a number of concerns regarding the replacement of existing lifeboat hook systems, in particular those concerning the approval process, mutual acceptance of evaluations and lead times for retrofitting, which make the allotted timescale for completion of re-hooking, extremely challenging.

• REPORT OF THE LSA WG. The Sub-Committee approved the WG2 report in general, and in particular:
(1) Agreed in principle to the draft goal-based guidelines on a framework of requirements for ships’s life-saving appliances.

(2) Endorsed the group’s recommendations inviting IACS to consider a review of the proposed UI on thorough examinations / overhauls and tests in five-year intervals of launching appliances and on-board release gear for submission to DE 58.

(3) Endorsed the view that consideration should be given to addressing the text of the 2011 HSSC Guidelines in order to clarify the requirements for carrying out (2) above, and

(4) Note that the work related to the road map for the development of a new framework of requirements for life-saving appliances will be considered for submission to DE58.

• LIFEJACKET LIGHTS. Following discussion, IACS undertook to develop a UI on Lifejacket Lights for consideration at MSC 92.

• REPORT OF THE POLAR CODE WG. The WG further developed the draft ‘Polar Code’, largely on the basis of the correspondence group report (DE57/11/6). The WG report was approved in general and, in particular:

(1) Noted the agreement of the group that all ships operating in polar waters should have a Polar Ship Certificate and a Polar Water Operation Manual;

(2) Noted the possibility of providing reference to other ice class rules such as FSICR (the Finnish-Swedish rules);

(3) Acknowledged the modified draft chapter 15 to be submitted for consideration by MEPC 65 and also note the progress made on Chapters 2 and 8;

(4) Requested MSC to consider whether or not an Intersessional Meeting of the Working Group should take place in the autumn of 2013.

Discussion in Plenary was interesting and included:

(1) A proposed ban on the use of HFO by ships operating in Arctic waters (submitted by FOEI, and others) which was referred to MEPC and not the WG;

(2) Discussion of a submission recognising the importance of mitigating black carbon emissions (submitted by CSC and others) which subsequently will be sent to MEPC;

(3) A highly disturbing IMO submission advising of significant risk to the safety of navigation in polar regions which will be sent to NAV, (meeting in September 2013) and also MSC.


(1) Consideration should be given to establishing a Correspondence Group on Guidelines for offshore wind farm vessels.

(2) The words ‘carriage of industrial personnel’ be used in preference to ‘transport of industrial personnel’ (which was agreed by the Sub-Committee).

(3) Justification for a new output addressing the carriage of more than 12 industrial personnel on board vessels engaged on international voyages should be submitted to MSC 92 for consideration and approval.

• REVISION OF TESTING REQUIREMENTS FOR LIFEJACKET RTDs IN RESOLUTION MSC.81(70). The Sub-Committee expressed the view that a lifejacket should comply with RTD (Reference Test Device) criteria only, in preference to fixed minimum performance criteria.

• PROVISIONS FOR REDUCTION OF NOISE FROM COMMERCIAL SHIPPING AND ITS ADVERSE IMPACTS ON MARINE LIFE. A Drafting Group was formed and instructed on the basis of document DE57/17 to further develop the draft ‘Guidelines for minimising underwater noise from commercial ships’ and to prepare on associated draft MEPC circular. These were both approved, as amended, and will be submitted to MEPC 66. Following this, DE57 will regard the item to have been concluded. Of interest, ISO reported that ISO 16554- Ship and marine technology – Measurement and reporting of underwater sound radiated from merchant ships – deep water measurement – is expected to be published this year and will provide shipyards, shipowners and ship surveyors with a well-established measurement for ship-radiated underwater sound.

• DEVELOPMENTS OF REQUIREMENTS FOR ONBOARD LIFTING APPLIANCES AND WINCHES. During discussion in Plenary, ICHICA stressed the need for relevant mandatory requirements, especially in view of the very high number of incidents involving fatalities and serious injuries. Meanwhile, JAPAN provided a draft framework which includes the development of new SOLAS requirements and associated guidelines addressing structure and strength, installation, maintenance, inspection and certification together with an Operational Manual. ILO was informed of the on-going work and invited to participate whilst the very serious incident reports concerning ‘BLEST MARINE’ and ‘CRECIENTE’ , already analysed by FSI, will also be considered. Views were expressed that any requirements should apply to new and existing ships whilst lifts and escalators on passenger ships will not be included in the scope of the item. Importantly, it was felt that work should focus on maintenance issues since many of the accidents reported were caused by failure to maintain properly the appliances and thus the human element should also be taken into consideration. The WG submitted an Action Plan which the Sub-Committee endorsed and also accepted the view that the future Guidelines should assume a mandatory status. The WG agreed that personnel / passenger lifts and escalators should be outwith the scope and that the future Guidelines be applicable to all ships. Moreover, when the guidelines address design, such provisions should apply only to newly installed equipment, but when they address operation, maintenance, inspection and certifications, these should be applicable to new and existing ships. On the issue of certification in the context of the Guidelines, a transitional period for existing ships is recommended.

• DEVELOPMENT OF AMENDMENTS TO THE 2011 ESP CODE. The Sub-Committee supported a proposal by IACS to provide a ‘track changes’ version reflecting draft amendments to the 2011 ESP Code (as discussed in document DE 57 / 24) and a procedure by which to process such proposed amendments was agreed.

Captain Paddy McKnight


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