The IMO Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment held its 7th Session (SSE 7) from Monday 2 through Friday 6 March 2020. Mr Umut Senturk (Turkey) chaired the meeting, together with his Vice Chair, Mr Sergey Tolmachev (Russian Federation), both of whom were re-elected for 2021. Three Working Groups (WG) and one Experts Group (EG) were formed and chaired as follows:
WG1 Life Saving Appliances (LSA), Mr G Grills (USA);
WG2 Fire Protection, Mr A Tosseviken (Norway);
WG3 On board Lifting Appliances and Anchor Handling Winches, Mr H Eguro
EG1 Safety Objectives/Functional Requirements for SOLAS chapter II-1 and
cold ironing of ships, Mr S Tolmachev (Russian Federation).
The meeting was attended by representatives from 72 Member States, 1 Associate Member of IMO, 2 Inter-Governmental Organisations and 28 Non-Governmental Organisations.
ADDRESS BY THE SECRETARY GENERAL. Mr Lim, S-G IMO, welcomed delegates to the seventh session of SSE and before addressing the work of the Sub-Committee, mentioned matters related to the Coronavirus. In this regard, he referred to Circular Letters No. 4203 and 4204, both available on IMO Docs, based on recommendations developed by the World Health Organisation.
He next took the opportunity to say a few words about this year’s World Maritime theme, which is “Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet” to raise awareness of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, the SDGs. The shipping industry, supported by IMO’s regulatory framework, has already started the transition towards a sustainable future through the adoption and continuous development measures to address issues such as:
- Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions;
- The lower sulphur content of ships’ fuel oil;
- Protection of the polar regions;
- The safety of fishing vessels, in particular the adoption of the 2012 Cape Town Agreement; and,
- Wider participation of women in the maritime community.
World Maritime Day this year will be celebrated at IMO HQ on 24 September whilst the traditional parallel event will be organised by the Government of South Africa, in Durban, from 28 to 30 October.
Turning to the agenda for the week, the S-G underscored some of the key technical issues to be considered, in particular:
- Ventilation requirements for survival craft;
- Fire safety on ro-ro passenger ships to minimise fire incidents and consequences;
- Completion of draft Guidelines for lifting appliances, also anchor handling winches; and,
- Finalisation of the guidelines for cold ironing of ships.
In closing, Mr Lim noted that the number of submissions for this meeting has increased by almost one third compared to the total at the last session and wished delegates every success in their deliberations.
LIFE SAVING APPLIANCES. The Sub-Committee considered the report of the Correspondence Group on Life-Saving Appliances (LSA), containing draft amendments to the LSA Code and the Revised Recommendation regarding ventilation requirements for survival craft, which was introduced by the USA coordinator. Following discussion of the CGs comprehensive submission in plenary and several related documents, the Sub-Committee tasked WG1 to consider the following agenda items:
- New requirements for ventilation of survival craft;
- Revision of the Standardised life-saving appliance evaluation and test report forms;
- Consequential work related to the new Code for ships operating in polar waters;
- Revision of SOLAS chapter III and the LSA Code;
- Amendments to paragraph 188.8.131.52.17 of the LSA Code concerning single fall and hook systems with on-load release capability; and,
- Unified interpretation of provisions of IMO safety, security, and environment-related conventions (LSA related matters).
WG1 was then given Terms of Reference appropriate to each item and following the Group’s work, submitted a report which the Sub-Committee approved in general, and in particular:
- Considered the proposed new paragraph 4..1.1.6 subparagraphs 184.108.40.206.1 and 220.127.116.11.2 in lieu of amendments to 18.104.22.168.4 of the LSA Code regarding general ventilation requirements for liferafts, taking action as appropriate;
- Agreed to the new paragraph 4.5.5 and subparagraphs 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199 of the LSA Code regarding general ventilation requirements for partially enclosed lifeboats;
- Endorsed the recommendation of the Group to wait until the draft amendments to resolution MSC.181(70) are complete so that they may be included with the amendments to the LSA code regarding ventilation requirements for survival craft for submission to the committee as a package;
- Noted the progress made by the Group on draft amendments to resolution MSC.81(70) and invited interested Member States and international organisations to submit proposals to SSE 8 regarding test methods (MSC.81(70) for ventilation requirements of liferafts and long term time weighted average CO2 concentration;
- Noted the discussion of the Group on consequential work related to the Polar Code and invited interested Member States and international organisations to submit proposals regarding maximum expected time of rescue to SSE 8;
- Noted the discussion of the Group regarding the revision of SOLAS chapter III and the LSA Code;
- Endorsed the action plan on the revision of SOLAS chapter III and the LSA Code;
- Noted the discussion of the Group and agreed, in principle, to the draft amendments to paragraph 188.8.131.52.17 of the LSA Code;
- Agreed to the draft amendments to the Standardised life-saving appliance evaluation and test report forms, with a view to approval by MSC 103;
- Authorised the Secretariat to introduce any editorial corrections to the draft amendments to the Standardised life-saving appliance evaluation and test report forms; and,
- Considered WG1’s recommendation to re-establish the correspondence group (coordinated by the USA) on life-saving appliances with terms of reference prepared by the Group, and take action as appropriate.
FIRE PROTECTION. It was recalled that SSE 6 had finalised the draft interim guidelines for minimising the incidence and consequences of fires in ro-ro spaces in ro-ro passenger ships and invited the HTW Sub-Committee to consider sections 3.2 and 3.3 of the draft interim guidelines related to training and drills for seafarers. It was also noted that further consideration of the FIRESAFE II report would be necessary at this session in light of the proposed analysis of the report by the FSA Experts Group. In the event, the FSA EG noted that the outcome of the study was not affected by any major deficiencies.
Following progress made at SSE 6 with regard to draft amendments on the Guidelines for the approval of fixed dry chemical powder fire-extinguishing systems, the Correspondence Group on Fire Protection was re-established and reported accordingly to SSE 7.
Discussion in plenary then took place, most notably on the FSS Code for fault isolation requirements and revision of the Guidelines for maintaining CO2 fire-extinguishing systems after which terms of reference were drawn up in respect of the following agenda items for consideration by WG2:
- Review of SOLAS chapter II-2 and associated codes to minimise the incidence and consequences of fires on ro-ro spaces and special category spaces of new and existing ro-ro passenger ships;
- Amendments to Guidelines for the approval of fixed dry chemical powder fire-extinguishing systems for the protection of ships carrying liquefied gases in bulk;
- Amendments to chapter 9 of the FSS Code for fault isolation requirements for cargo ships and passenger ship balconies fitted with individually identifiable fire detector systems;
- Unified Interpretation of provisions of IMO safety, security, and environment related conventions (FSS related matters); and,
- Revision of the Guidelines for the maintenance and inspection of fixed carbon dioxide fire-extinguishing systems.
In respect of the subsequent report of its deliberations by WG2, the Sub-Committee approved it in general, and in particular:
- Noted the discussion on the proposed amendments to SOLAS chapter II-2 and relevant IMO instruments and endorsed the items identified for further consideration by the re-established Correspondence Group;
- Considered the need for a new output to address safety concerns on new types of vehicles, such as those which are battery-powered and alternatively fuelled;
- Agreed to the draft amendments to ‘Revised guidelines for the design and approval of fixed water-based fire-fighting systems for ro-ro spaces and special category spaces’ (MSC.1/Circ.1430/Rev.1);
- Noted the discussion on the draft amendments to the ‘Guidelines for the approval of fixed dry chemical powder fire-extinguishing systems for the protection of ships carrying liquefied gases in bulk’ (MSC.1/Circ.1315), in particular, matters related to jet fire/LNG pool fire test procedures, and encouraged interested parties to engage in standardisation work for this matter through ISO/TC8;
- Agreed draft amendments to chapter 9 of the FSS Code for fault isolation requirements for cargo ships and passenger ship cabin balconies fitted with individually identifiable fire detector systems, with an associated draft resolution for approval by MSC 103 and adoption by MSC 104;
- Noted the Group’s views that clarifications on the application of SOLAS regulations II-2/9.7 and II-2/9.2 should be addressed by a new output since it requires amendment to the existing regulation in lieu of addressing the matter via a unified interpretation;
- Requested the Secretariat to correct the references in SOLAS regulations II-2/184.108.40.206.2.1 and II-2/220.127.116.11.2.2 in accordance with relevant procedures;
- Agreed draft amendments to the ‘Guidelines for the maintenance and inspection of fixed carbon dioxide fire-extinguishing systems’ (MSC.1/Circ.1318) and the associated draft MSC circular for approval by MSC 103; and,
- Considered the Groups recommendation to re-establish the Correspondence Group on Fire Protection, and take action as appropriate.
REQUIREMENTS FOR ONBOARD LIFTING APPLIANCES AND ANCHOR HANDLING WINCHES (OLAW). It was recalled that MSC 100 agreed that a “list of inclusions with some exclusions” approach should be taken when drafting the relevant SOLAS amendments in relation to OLAW, and that onboard lifting appliances installed on offshore construction ships should be excluded from the new requirements. Accordingly, SSE 6 agreed to take a prescriptive approach to the draft SOLAS regulation II-1/3-13, with a view to submission to the Committee, in conjunction with the associated Guidelines, once finalised. It was also agreed to split the guidance provisions in the draft guidelines into two separate entities, acknowledging that the provisions in the draft guidelines regarding anchor handling winches were close to finalisation whereas more work was necessary for those of lifting appliances. Because SSE 6 was unable to further develop the two sets of guidelines, the Correspondence Group on Onboard Lifting Appliances and Anchor Handling Winches was re-established. The Coordinator of the CG, Japan, introduced the report of the Group to the SSE 7 Sub-Committee. In developing the draft Guidelines for lifting appliances, the CG made a series of recommendations for further consideration by the Working Group (WG3) and also for anchor handling winches. Associated draft MSC circulars for the draft Guidelines were also prepared together with check/monitoring sheets and the record format for the draft amendments to SOLAS chapter II-1. A number of commenting papers on the CGs report were introduced and discussed following which the OLAW Working Group was formed and instructed to convene. In addition to its formal terms of reference, it was instructed to also take into account, comments and decisions made in plenary.
Following WG3s deliberations, the Sub-Committee approved the Group’s report in general, and in particular:
- Agreed with the Group’s view that the application provisions in draft SOLAS regulation II-1/3-18.104.22.168 for exclusion of “lifting appliances on ships certified as MODUs” were in line with IMO instruments for drafting SOLAS amendments and that no further action is required;
- Agreed to the draft new SOLAS regulation II-1/3-13, with a view to approval by MSC 103 and subsequent adoption in conjunction with the associated draft Guidelines for lifting appliances and the draft Guidelines for Anchor Handling Winches, respectively;
- Endorsed the check/monitoring sheet and the record format for SOLAS regulation II-1/2 and draft new SOLAS regulation II-1/3-13, in accordance with MSC.1/Circ.1500/Rev.1 for consideration by MSC 103 in conjunction with approval of the new SOLAS regulation;
- Agreed with the Group’s view that the draft provisions for shipboard personnel operating lifting appliances and loose gear requirements in the draft Guidelines for lifting appliances does not require input and advice from the HTW Sub-Committee;
- Invited the Committee to refer the matter of training, familiarisation and qualifications of shore-based personnel operating shipboard lifting appliances and loose gear to the FAL Committee for consideration and actions, as appropriate;
- Agreed to the draft Guidelines for lifting appliances and the associated draft MSC Circular, with a view to submission to MSC for approval, in conjunction with adoption of the draft amendments to SOLAS regulation II-1/3-13;
- Noted that the Group was not able to finalise the draft Guidelines for anchor-handling winches; and,
- Considered the Group’s recommendation to re-establish the Correspondence Group on Onboard Lifting Appliances and Anchor Handling Winches, with terms of reference as prescribed, and to take action as appropriate.
SAFETY OBJECTIVES AND COLD IRONING OF SHIPS. Two agenda items (10 and 11) were discussed. The first, on Safety objectives and functional requirements of the Guidelines on alternative design and arrangements for SOLAS chapters II-1 and III, attracted no submissions. On the other hand, the second, on cold ironing of ships, had five submissions which provoked a stimulating debate in plenary, particularly as these additionally enjoyed being spear-headed by a report from the Coordinator of the Correspondence Group on the subject, although not much progress appears to have been made by the CG since SSE 6.
Following discussion, it was decided to task the Experts Group (EG1) with terms of reference to develop goals, functional requirements and expected performance for SOLAS chapter II-1 and to finalise the draft Guidelines on safe operation of onshore power supply (OPS) service in port for ships engaged on international voyages.
EG1 duly met and following several days of deliberation, submitted a report to the Sub-Committee which was approved in general, and in particular, the Sub-Committee:
- Endorsed the Group’s discussion and agreed the action plan for developing goals, functional requirements and expected performance for SOLAS chapter II-1;
- Agreed to establish a correspondence group to develop such goals, functional requirements and performance subject to decision by MSC 102 as to whether such work should be carried out by the SSE or alternatively, the SDC, Sub-committee;
- Agreed that an experts group might be established at SSE 8 subject to whatever MSC 102 decides;
- Invited interested Member States and international organisations to submit proposals to SSE 8 regarding the development of the goals, functional requirements and expected performance in respect of SOLAS chapter II-1;
- Invited HTW 7 to consider the draft interim guidelines, in particular section 6, with a view to addressing specific issues identified by EG1, for advising MSC 103 directly;
- Agreed to the draft Interim guidelines on safe operation of onshore power supply (OPS) service in port for ships engaged on international voyages and the associated draft MSC circular, for submission to MSC 103 for approval, taking into account the views of HTW 7;
- Endorsed the Group’s view that there is no need to develop draft amendments to SOLAS chapters II-1 and II-2; and,
- Endorsed the Group’s view that there is no need to re-establish a correspondence group on development of guidelines for cold ironing.
REVISION OF THE CODE OF SAFETY FOR DIVING SYSTEMS (RESOLUTION A.831(19)) AND THE GUIDELINES AND SPECIFICATIONS FOR HYPERBARIC EVACUATION SYSTEMS. Following plenary discussion, it was agreed that IMO instruments are outdated in terms of today’s diving systems and, in order to keep up with industry practices and standards, a comprehensive revision of the 1995 diving Code is necessary and that hyperbaric evacuation should be incorporated in the revision work. Having considered views such as these, the sub-Committee agreed that a correspondence group be established to progress the work intersessionally, under the coordination of the Bahamas, with terms of reference as prescribed by the Sub-Committee.
AMENDMENTS TO SOLAS CHAPTER III, LSA CODE AND RESOLUTION MSC.81(70) TO REMOVE THE APPLICABILITY OF THE REQUIREMENTS TO LAUNCH FREE-FALL LIFEBOATS WITH THE SHIP MAKING HEADWAY AT SPEEDS UP TO 5 KNOTS IN CALM WATER. It was recalled that SSE 6 had considered document SSE 6/12/2 (IACS), which discussed the implementation of SOLAS regulation III/33.2 and paragraph 5.4 of part 2 of the ’Revised recommendation on testing of life-saving appliances’ (resolution MSC.81(70)), as amended, and sought clarification on the application of the requirements to launch free-fall lifeboats while a ship is making headway at speeds of up to 5 knots in calm water. Following this, IACS prepared a proposal to MSC 101 for a new output (SSE 6/18, paragraphs 12.34, 12.37 and 12.38) which the Committee agreed to include in the biennial agenda of the Sub-Committee for 2020-2021 and the provisional agenda for SSE 7, with a target completion year of 2020 (MSC 101/24, paragraph 21.45). Two documents were submitted, one by the USA (SSE 7/15) discussing the possible implications of amending SOLAS regulation III/33.2 and one by IACS (SSE 7/15/1) proposing draft amendments to SOLAS chapter III, the LSA Code and the Revised recommendation, as amended, on the application of the requirement to launch at up to 5 knots headway in calm water. Following discussion, the sub-Committee agreed to the draft amendments proposed by IACS in their document, which will be submitted to MSC 103 for approval and subsequent adoption, as appropriate. In considering views expressed regarding the merit of investigating potential effects of acceleration forces on lifeboats (SSE 7/15), the sub-Committee invited interested Member States and international organisations to submit proposals for a relevant new output to the Committee, in accordance with the Committee’s method of work.
UNIFIED INTERPRETATION OF PROVISIONS OF IMO SAFETY, SECURITY, AND ENVIRONMENT-RELATED PROVISIONS. A total of five proposed Unified Interpretations were turned down by the Sub-Committee whilst the only one to be approved, was that of ‘Isolated pantries containing no cooking appliances in accommodation spaces’. Two other UIs were re-directed to the Fire Protection WG for their scrutiny.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS. Quite a number of items were swept up under this heading as follows:
- Fatal accidents involving elevators. III 6, having considered the analysis of individual marine safety investigation reports, found that potential safety issues related to fatal accidents involving elevators could not be addressed by the current work of SSE on OLAW. In this regard, the sub-Committee considered document SSE 7/9/1 by China proposing requirements for elevators installed on board ships, in order to reduce the safety risk to passengers and crew members. Following discussion and owing to time constraints, it was decided not to take any action at this stage. Member States and international organisations were nevertheless invited to submit proposals for a relevant new output to the Committee and in addition, Sub-Committee III 7 was invited to note the outcome of the discussion;
- Presence of cargo vapours in non-hazardous closed spaces. MSC 101 had considered this safety issue based on analyses of the reports of investigations into the three fire incidents on board Liang Sheng, Royal Diamond 7 and Border Heather by III 5, and instructed SSE 7 to advise the Committee, as appropriate. Following discussion on how best to approach the safety issue, the Sub-Committee determined that it should be addressed by means of a unified interpretation, which IACS expressed willingness to prepare for consideration at SSE 8;
- Prohibition of the use of PFOS for fire-fighting on board ships. Following a short discussion, a new work item on the “Development of provisions to prohibit the use of fire-fighting foams containing perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) for fire-fighting on board ships” was included in the provisional agenda of SSE 8.
- GISIS module on evaluation of hooks. Two documents were considered under this item, the first by the Secretariat discussing the need for continuation of the use of the GISIS module, which had been developed to facilitate the reporting requirement of the Member States for compliance with SOLAS regulation III/1.5. This requires that on-load release mechanisms (lifeboat release and retrieval systems) not complying with paragraphs 22.214.171.124.4 to 126.96.36.199.6 of the LSA Code be replaced or modified not later than the next scheduled dry-docking after 1 July 2014, but not later than 1 July 2019. The second document by ILAMA provided comments on that above regarding the continuation of the GISIS module on evaluation of hooks. Following discussion, it was agreed to retain the module as a “read-only” information source by disabling editing functions, with the inclusion of a caveat for newer lifeboat release and retrieval systems that were not in the GISIS module;
- Sales information of the model courses. A lengthy discussion took place on the need for revising four model courses published in 2004, numbers 3.03 – 3.06 on Survey of machinery installations, electrical installations, fire appliances and life-saving appliances. It was agreed that all four should be revised with priority given to model course 3.03 on ‘Survey of machinery installations’ and a decision was taken to establish a drafting group at the next session with a view to drawing up terms of reference for course developers undertaking the revision work; and,
- Amendment to MSC.1/Circ1578 regarding free-fall lifeboat simulator training. The Sub-Committee considered document SSE 7/20/3 by Poland proposing draft amendments to the ‘Guidelines on safety during abandon ship drills using lifeboats’ (MSC.1/Circ.1578) to allow the use of free-fall lifeboat simulator training to prevent accidents to crew members during lifeboat drills. Following discussion, the Sub-Committee did not support the proposal on the grounds that the proposed amendments and the draft model course needed further work and invited the delegation of Poland together with any other interested Member States and international organisations to submit proposals for a new output to the Committee.
DATE OF NEXT MEETING. The next meeting of the Ship Systems and Equipment Sub-Committee (SSE 8) is tentatively scheduled to take place from 1 through 5 March 2021.
Captain Paddy McKnight