The IMO’s Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction held its 1st session (SDC1) from Monday 20 through Friday 24 January 2014 under the Chairmanship of Mrs A Jost (GERMANY) and her Vice-Chair, Captain N Campbell (SOUTH AFRICA); both were subsequently re-elected for 2015.
It will be recalled that this Sub-Committee with the acronym SDC is an amalgam of former Sub-Committees DE, FP and SLF (Design Equipment; Fire Protection; Safety, Load-Lines and Fishing Vessels). Winding up his customary welcoming speech, the IMO Secretary-General alluded to 3 ‘additional’ safety matters of interest: (1) that SOLAS was introduced exactly 100 years ago, 2 years after the sinking of the TITANIC;
(2) that the reasons for the hull-cracking and total loss of the MOL containership in the Indian Ocean last year were still being investigated by Class NK and the BAHAMAS flag; and
(3) that following the fairly recent IMO symposium on Ship Safety, there might be a case for developing a SOLAS Convention in 2024, half-a-century after its 1974 counterpart.
Three working groups (WG) and two drafting groups (DG) were formed and chaired as follows :
WG1 Development of a Mandatory Code for ships operating in Polar waters, Mrs T Stemre (NORWAY)
WG2 Stability, Mr B Atmayer (GERMANY) and Mr J Person (USA)
WG3 Construction, Mr P Wilkins (UK) DG1 Development of provisions to ensure the integrity and uniform implementation of the 1969 TM Convention, Mr P Eareckson (USA)
DG2 Matters related to intact stability, Professor Umeda (JAPAN) Not surprisingly, the agenda groaned at the seams but to her immense credit, Mrs Jost completed all apart from the item relating to a review of the conditions under which watertight doors may be opened during navigation and which will now pass to SDC2.
Following is a selection of salient points from the meeting of most interest to InterManager members:
• POLAR CODE. Thanks to the able and industrious leadership of Mrs Stemre, including an evening session ending at 2.30am the following morning, WG1 produced a comprehensive draft International Code for ships operating in polar waters (Polar Code). This draft was agreed in principle by the Sub-Committee for submission to MEPC 66 (April 2014) and MSC 93 (May 2014) for further consideration prior to subsequent adoption. Draft SOLAS and MARPOL amendments in consequence of the Polar Code also received agreement in principle. In the interim, relevant human element matters will be examined by HTW1 (February 2014) and pending consideration of navigation/ COMSAR issues at NCSR1 (July 2014), MSC 93 will seek to approve the Code and associated draft SOLAS amendments for circulation with a view to adoption at MSC 94 (November 2014). MEPC 67 (October 2014) will next consider the outcome of MSC 93 and NCSR1 and forward a final text of the Code for adoption together with associated MARPOL amendments (keeping publication of the final text of the Code in abeyance pending the outcome of MSC 94). Following MSC 94’s consideration of MEPC 67’s deliberations and (hopefully) agreement of final text, the Polar Code and associated SOLAS amendment will then be adopted. With regard to paper SDC1/3/1 regarding reception facilities for oil and oily mixtures (of which InterManager was a co-sponsor together with 7 flag States and 11 other NGOs), following on extensive discussion and noting many markedly differing views, the Sub-Committee decided that, as this matter is one of a policy nature, the MEPC is the most appropriate body to deal with it.
• DEVELOPMENT OF PROVISIONS TO ENSURE THE INTEGRITY AND UNIFORM IMPLEMENTATION OF THE 1969 TONNAGE MEASUREMENT CONVENTION. An aspect of this item that will be of interest to Members relates to the improvement of crew accommodation although sadly the Correspondence Group reported no significant progress regarding current financial disincentives. Mandatory availability of any exclusion from GT of accommodation spaces was rejected at an earlier session and all that is left are various proposals for voluntary parameters that ports might choose to use when assessing fees. However, owing to time constraints and extent of the discussions, WG1 concluded that the further development of a reduced gross tonnage parameter or any other option to address accommodation spaces could not be progressed following which the Sub-Committee invited submissions to SDC2, thus extending the target completion date for this item by a year.
• REVIEW OF DAMAGE STABILITY REGULATIONS FOR RO-RO PASSENGER SHIPS. Consideration was given to SLF55’s divided views on matters related to the residual freeboard option as part of the new requirement to account for water-on-deck effect. The UK delegation averred that there is ample evidence for the efficacy of using residual freeboard within damage stability assessments for ro-ro passenger ships from many research projects. This includes consideration of the accumulation of water on deck and does not impose an additional burden on such ships by virtue of them possessing sufficient residual freeboard. It also conforms with the probabilistic damage stability framework and offers a significant benefit with neither cost nor penalty implications for the industry. The Sub-Committee agreed to send these amendments to the parent body (MSC) noting that the work on the output had now been completed.
• DEVELOPMENT OF GUIDELINES ON SAFE RETURN TO PORT FOR PASSENGER SHIPS. A moderate phase 1 increase in the required subdivision index “R” was agreed whilst acknowledging that further consideration is needed in regard to smaller passenger ships. A stepped approach will be taken on developing guidance for the approval of damage stability modules for safe return to port. This will follow an action list including items such as on-board damage stability software providing information to the Master on tank guaging systems, flooding sensors, status of watertight doors and shell doors, also how to account for progressive flooding. Maintaining databases for shore based support will also feature.
• DEVELOPMENT OF GUIDELINES FOR USE OF FIBRE-REINFORCED PLASTIC (FRP) WITHIN SHIP STRUCTURES. The CG established by FP 56 proposed that the draft guidelines should be broadened, not only to FRP use in structures but also other uses of FRP on-board ships. The Sub-Committee noted the views expressed regarding structural integrity during a fire (e.g. as a result of loss of local bonding), practical experience on use of FRP on board ships and the need to review compliance with SOLAS chapter 11-2. Following this, the correspondence group was reinstated and instructed to additionally review the use of FRP gratings in tankers as raised by IACS at FP 56.
• REVIEW OF THE RECOMMENDATION ON EVACUATION ANALYSIS FOR NEW AND EXISTING PASSENGER SHIPS. The issue of evacuation in an emergency was included in the IMO’s long-term work plan following the COSTA CONCORDIA grounding after which SDC1 was instructed to consider the application of evacuation analysis to non ro-ro passenger ships. There was full support for paper SDC1/13 submitted by GERMANY proposing terms of reference for a correspondence group and recommending amendments to SOLAS making such application to new and existing ships mandatory. Accordingly, the Secretariat was instructed to prepare a justification expanding the scope of work on the existing output and extending the target completion date to 2015. • GENERAL CARGO SHIP SAFETY. The Sub-Committee was invited to further consider measures to strengthen the maintenance responsibilities for ship machinery in the context of implementing the Safety Management System (SMS) and ship survey requirements as proposed by ARGENTINA at MSC 89. Following discussion on this proposal, plus that of establishing an extended survey system for general cargo ships, the Sub-Committee noted the views expressed regarding the application of the IACS UR Z7, a positive outcome of relative cost benefit and revealing the possibility of administrative and economic burdens caused by extending the survey system. The category ‘general cargo ship’ describes a very wide range of ship sizes and types, thus any provisions that may be developed in respect of this proposal need to be appropriate to the ships for which they are meant to apply. The matter will be further considered at SDC 2.
• CLASSIFICATION OF OFFSHORE INDUSTRY VESSELS AND CONSIDERATON OF THE NEED FOR A NON-MANDATORY CODE FOR OFFSHORE CONSTRUCTION SUPPORT VESSELS. WG3 produced a revision of the draft Guidelines for offshore service craft (OSC) and offshore construction vessels (OCV). Its recommendation to re-establish a correspondence group on ‘Guidelines for offshore wind-farm vessels’ was endorsed by the Sub-Committee.
• CARRIAGE OF MORE THAN 12 INDUSTRIAL PERSONNEL ON BOARD VESSELS ENGAGED IN INTERNATIONAL VOYAGES. A draft definition of ‘Industrial Personnel’ was produced by WG3 as follows for inclusion in the pertinent instruments (e.g. draft guidelines OSC and OCV): Industrial Personnel means all persons who are not passengers or members of the crew or children of under one year of age and who are transported or accommodated on board for the purpose of offshore industrial activities; and are: 1. able bodied and meet appropriate medical standards; and 2. have received basic safety training according to relevant industry standards; and 3. have fair knowledge of the layout of the ship and the handling of the ship’s safety equipment before departure from port (e.g. through a safety briefing); and 4. equipped with appropriate safety equipment suitable for the risks to safety such personnel are likely to experience on the forthcoming voyage (e.g. survival suits). The group agreed that a short term solution would be to incorporate the new definition of industrial personnel into the draft OSC and OCV guidelines. Regarding a long term solution, it was agreed that the new definition could be useful in making a contribution to any future revision of the SOLAS Convention.
• DEVELOPMENT OF GUIDELINES FOR WING-IN-GROUND CRAFT. Following inconclusive discussion, the Secretariat was requested to prepare a consolidated text of the Interim Guidelines incorporating all SDC1 submissions for further consideration at SDC 2.
• DEVELOPMENT OF RISK-BASED DISTANCE CRITERIA FOR GAS FUEL TANKS. Following discussion, the Sub-Committee instructed the Stability Working Group to finalise the draft amendment to Section 5 of the draft IGF Code related to the location of LNG tanks, taking into account the five relevant SDC 1 submissions.
• DATE OF NEXT SESSION. The second session of the Sub-Committee has been tentatively scheduled from 16 to 20 February 2015.
Captain Paddy McKnight END