The IMO Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment held its 5th Session (SSE 5) from Monday 12 through Friday 16 March 2018.  Dr S Ota (JAPAN) chaired the meeting together with his Vice Chair, Mr V Senturk (TURKEY), both of whom were subsequently re-elected for 2019.  Three Working Groups (WG) and one Drafting Group (DG) were formed and chaired as follows:


WG1   Life Saving Appliances (LSA), Mr S Assheuer (GERMANY)


WG2   Fire Protection, Mr L Fisher (USA)


WG3   Onboard Lifting Appliances and Winches, Mr A Ishihara (JAPAN)


DG1    Guidelines on Safe Operation of On-shore Power Supply (OPS), Ms X Wang



The meeting was attended by representatives from 74 Member States, 1 Associate Member of IMO, 1 Inter-Governmental Organisation and 27 Non-Governmental Organisations.


ADDRESS BY THE SECRETARY GENERAL.  Opening his welcoming address, the S-G referred to the recent serious fire in a cargo hold of the Maersk Honam, a 15,000TEU container ship, sailing under the Singapore flag.  Expressing deep sympathy for those who suffered in the accident and whilst considering it too early to fully evaluate the extent of the incident, he looked forward to receiving the casualty investigation report in order to reduce the chances of a repetition.  He next mentioned the theme of this year’s World Maritime Day (27 September), “IMO 70 : Our heritage – better shipping for a better future”, and spoke of the gracious visit to IMO Headquarters the preceding week by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to unveil a commemorative plaque and cut a birthday cake in recognition of the IMO turning 70 years old.  The S-G then went on to speak about some of the most important items to be considered by SSE 5 which included the development of draft functional requirements for SOLAS chapter III, new test and performance criteria for Life-Saving Appliances and Arrangements (LSA) for use in Polar waters, fires in ro-ro spaces, onboard lifting appliances and anchor handling winches, also guidelines for cold ironing of ships.  The meeting then got down to business for the following 4/5 days during which items of particular interest to InterManager members included the following:


Working Group on Life-Saving Appliances (LSA).  Following debate in Plenary, detailed Terms of Reference were given to WG1 on four agenda items.  These invited the Group to develop goals, functional requirements and expected performance to ensure consistent application of pertinent SOLAS regulations;  to finalise draft amendments to the LSA Code concerning two of the items;  and, to finalise the specific conditions, testing and performance criteria for LSAs and arrangements on board ships in polar waters.  The experts in this field, WG1, duly convened and their subsequent report was approved by the Sub-committee in general, and in particular:


  1. Noted WG1s deliberations regarding the output on safety objectives and functional requirements of the guidelines on alternative design and arrangements for SOLAS chapters II-1 and III.
  2. Agreed draft amendments to the LSA code regarding ventilation of totally enclosed lifeboats;
  3. Agreed draft amendments to para of the LSA Code for submission to MSC 100. This basically applies to cargo ships equipped with a rescue boat which is not one of the ship’s survival craft, providing the means for bringing the rescue boat against the ship’s side and holding it alongside so that persons can be safely embarked;
  4. Noted the Group’s inability to finalise the draft interim guidelines on LSAs and arrangements for ships operating in polar waters, but also noted that some progress had been made which would form the basis for further development by a correspondence group;
  5. Endorsed WG1’s view that the regulatory option to address new test and performance criteria should be decided after finalisation of the specific conditions and test and performance criteria and the draft interim guidelines; and
  6. Re-established the LSA Correspondence Group.


Fires in Ro-Ro Spaces.  It was recalled that SSE 4 had endorsed the method of work to review SOLAS chapter II-2 and associated codes following risk-based methodology, such as Formal Safety Assessment (FSA)/simplified techniques/existing best practice.  This aimed to minimise the incidence and consequences of fires in Ro-Ro spaces and special category spaces of new and existing Ro-Ro- passenger ships.  Five submissions were introduced, backed up by three Information papers and following extensive consideration in Plenary, WG 2 was given appropriate Terms of Reference and duly convened.  Following their deliberations, a report was submitted to the Sub-Committee which was approved in general, and in particular:


  1. Approved a list of provisionally identified IMO instruments that may need to be revised to minimise fires in Ro-Ro spaces;
  2. Approved a provisional structure for draft interim guidelines;
  3. Noted that draft amendments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention and associated codes have yet to be started;
  4. Agreed to draft amendments of the Revised guidelines for the design and approval of fixed water-based fire-fighting systems for Ro-Ro spaces and special category spaces for submission to MSC 100;
  5. Noted that instructions to HTW on training issues cannot be issued until draft amendments to SOLAS have been developed and accordingly, established a Correspondence Group on Fire Protection (FP) with approved Terms of Reference (ToRs);
  6. Included an instruction in the ToRs for the Correspondence Group to develop draft acceptance criteria for any dry chemical powders in respect of fluidity, moisture behaviour, suitability for use on board ships carrying liquefied gases in bulk and fire extinguishing capabilities with a view to establishing performance and testing requirements; and
  7. Noted the advice that the words ‘forward of’, used in chapter 15 of the FSC Code, should read ‘downstream of’.


Requirements For Onboard Lifting Appliances and Anchor Handling Winches (OLAW).  The Sub-committee recalled that SSE 4 had agreed that:


  1. The new provisions for OLAW should be included in SOLAS Chapter II-1;
  2. The scope of application should be based on the installation date of the equipment;
  3. Boundaries for applying the new SOLAS regulation should be based on the Safe Working Load (SWL) of the appliance;
  4. A functional requirement addressing a design life of OLAW comparable to that of the ship on which it is installed should not be included;
  5. A draft functional requirement for inspection and testing should be included; and
  6. Draft guidelines should be further developed without the list of available industry codes and/or standards.


It was further noted that SEE 4 had re-established the Correspondence Group on OLAW, instructing it to report to SSE 5.  An extensive discussion of the CGs report then took place in Plenary together with submissions by four Member States and one from IACS.  There was an interesting discussion on the threshold value of Safe Working Load (SWL) of the equipment as to whether 1000kg or 500kg should be used to set up the boundaries for application of the new SOLAS regulations.  The Industry expressed strong support for the 1000kg option, given that it is in line with current certification practise and obviates application to miscellaneous equipment such as small chain blocks.  Notwithstanding, a decision was deferred to SSE 6 as also was the issue of defining the term in the ILO lexicon, “inspection”, in order to differentiate it from, “thorough examination”.  WG3 was then convened and having deliberated, reported back to the Sub-Committee which approved their report in general, and in particular:


  1. Noted that the goal and the functional requirements developed addressed all relevant hazards;
  2. Noted the progress made on developing the draft goal, functional requirements and associated SOLAS regulations for OLAW;
  3. Noted the development of the draft functional requirements and associated regulations based on a linkage table (for comprehension purposes);
  4. Noted the Group’s discussion on applicable survey requirements for OLAW, agreeing that these are already addressed in SOLAS Chapter I, including survey windows;
  5. Noted the need for training of operating personnel;
  6. Determined to pursue requirements for training of crew and/or shore-based personnel in SOLAS;
  7. Decided to keep the regulation addressing the certification of loose gear for Correspondence Group consideration;
  8. Noting the Group’s split views on a suitable chapter in SOLAS for the draft regulation on OLAW, decided to address the issue at a future meeting;
  9. Endorsed the conclusion that the term ‘Out of Service’ in relation to OLAW was sufficiently addressed in SOLAS;
  10. Agreed that guidance was needed for ROs, Administrations, Masters, Companies and PSCOs to identify when out of service OLAW posed a risk of safety to the crew, the ship, its cargo, or the marine environment so as to be able to decide if the ship is fit to proceed to sea;
  11. Noted WG 3’s discussion on the experience gained in the application of the Generic guidelines for developing IMO goal-based standards, and their consequent doubts as to whether the goal-based approach is indeed the best solution for mandatory instruments;  and
  12. Re-established the OLAW Correspondence Group with agreed terms of reference.


Cold Ironing of Ships.  It was recalled that MSC 98 proposed developing mandatory and non-mandatory safety provisions for cold ironing of ships and guidance on safe operation of on-shore power supply service in port with a target completion year.  This was to be spear-headed by the SSE Sub-Committee, in association with the SDC and III Sub-committees.  In response to MSCs initiative, CHINA submitted draft guidelines to SSE 5 for safe operation of on-shore power supply (OPS) service in port for ships engaged on international voyages, taking into account the technical standards of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Standards Association.  Following comments made in Plenary, it was decided that a Correspondence Group would be appropriate to further develop the draft guidelines submitted by CHINA.  In light of this, the Drafting Group (DG1) was instructed to prepare draft Terms of Reference for the conduct of the Correspondence Group which the Sub-Committee then agreed, whilst also noting the views of the Group that the Guidelines should be developed by focussing on operational safety aspects at this stage, with the expectation of a further development to incorporate a uniform set of equipment standards by completion.  The Terms of Reference also instructed the Correspondence Group, when developing the draft guidelines, to consider their structure and framework, also current conventions, codes, guidelines and international standards to be referred to, including any deviations from such instruments as some international standards  are currently under revision.  Finally, they were directed to investigate the necessity of amendments to SOLAS chapters II-I and II-2 and if necessary, prepare appropriate draft amendments together with an associated draft MSC circular.

Date of Next Meeting.  SSE 6 will convene during March 2019

Captain Paddy McKnight                                                                                            End







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