IMO MSC approves draft Polar Code

28 May 2014
MSC 93 met at IMO HQ

MSC 93 met at IMO HQ

At the 93rd meeting of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), held at IMO HQ in London from 14 to 23 May, the committee approved, in principle, the draft Polar Code and related SOLAS amendments with a view to formal adoption in November.

The MSC also adopted important SOLAS amendments related to inert gas systems as well as amendments to a number of treaties to bring into force the mandatory IMO audit scheme. Work on passenger ship safety continued.

Matters related to the safety of navigation and communication were referred to the Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR), which meets in July, for finalisation of the relevant chapters.

The draft Polar Code covers the full range of design, construction, equipment, operational, training, search and rescue and environmental protection matters relevant to ships operating in the inhospitable waters surrounding the two poles. Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) is expected to further consider the environmental chapter at its next session in October (MEPC 67).

Other business transacted by MSC included completing the legal framework for the implementation of the mandatory IMO audit scheme, with the adoption of the necessary amendments to various treaties including SOLAS, STCW and the Load Lines protocol.

The MSC also adopted amendments to the SOLAS convention as follows:

  • SOLAS regulation II-1/29 on steering gear, to update the requirements relating to sea trials;
  • SOLAS regulations II-2/4, II-2/3, II-2/9.7 and II-2/16.3.3, to introduce mandatory requirements for inert gas systems on board new oil and chemical tankers of 8,000 dwt and above, and for ventilation systems on board new ships; related amendments to the International Code for Fire Safety Systems (FSS Code) on inert gas systems were also adopted;
  • SOLAS regulation II-2/10, concerning fire protection requirements for new ships designed to carry containers on or above the weather deck;
  • SOLAS regulation II-2/13.4, mandating additional means of escape from machinery spaces; and 
  • a new SOLAS regulation II-2/20-1 Requirement for vehicle carriers carrying motor vehicles with compressed hydrogen or natural gas for their own propulsion, which sets additional requirements for ships with vehicle and ro-ro spaces.

These SOLAS amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2016.

The MSC agreed a revised long-term action plan on passenger ship safety, following extensive discussion in a working group on passenger ship safety. A number of matters relating to damage stability and survivability of passenger ships were referred to the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction (SDC) for further work, including those related to the operation of watertight doors and consideration of double hull requirements in way of engine rooms.

The revised International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (the IGC Code) was adopted by the MSC, and will enter into force on 1 January 2016, with an implementation/application date of 1 July 2016.

Various other issues were discussed, including the lessons learned from the Costa Concordia accident, piracy, lifeboat safety and containers, while MSC approved, for future adoption, a new draft SOLAS regulation XI-1/7 on Atmosphere testing instrument for enclosed spaces, to require ships to carry an appropriate portable atmosphere testing instruments.

Other items approved by MSC included: unified interpretations to the International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships, 1969; clarify the application of the Convention; unified interpretations relating to the application of the Performance standard for alternative means of corrosion protection for cargo oil tanks of crude oil tankers (resolution MSC.289(87)) and the application of the Performance standard for protective coatings for cargo oil tanks of crude oil tankers (PSPC-COT) (resolution MSC.288(87)); the CTU Code, and adoption of various traffic routeing schemes and satellite navigation systems.

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