IMO to adopt new ship construction standards

11 May 2010

International goal-based standards for new ship construction are set to be adopted when the Internation Maritime Organization Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) meets at IMO headquarters for its 87th session from 12 to 20 May 2010.

The packed agenda also includes discussion on piracy and armed robbery against ships off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, the implementation of the Long-Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) system, and the adoption of other amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).

Adoption of goal-based standards

The MSC is expected to consider, with a view to adoption, the draft International Goal‑based Ship Construction Standards for Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers, along with proposed amendments to SOLAS Chapter II-1 making their application mandatory, following their approval at the last session.

The proposed SOLAS regulation II-1/3-10 on Goal-based ship construction standards for bulk carriers and oil tankerswould apply to oil tankers and bulk carriers of 150m in length and above. It would require new ships to be designed and constructed for a specified design life and to be safe and environmentally friendly, in intact and specified damage conditions, throughout their life. The ship should have adequate strength, integrity and stability to minimize the risk of loss of the ship or pollution to the marine environment due to structural failure, including collapse, resulting in flooding or loss of watertight integrity.

The MSC is also expected to consider for adoption the Guidelines for verification of conformity with goal-based ship construction standards for bulk carriers and oil tankers and the Guidelines for the information to be included in a Ship Construction File.  

The goal-based standards have been developed on the basis of a five-tier system, consisting of goals (Tier I), functional requirements (Tier II), verification of conformity (Tier III), rules and regulations for ship design and construction (Tier IV) and industry practices and standards (Tier V). The proposed goal-based standards reflect tiers I to III.

Other amendments

The MSC will also consider for adoption:

Life-saving appliances

  • A draft amendment to SOLAS regulation III/1 to require lifeboat on-load release mechanisms not complying with new International Life-Saving Appliances (LSA) Code requirements, to be replaced no later than the next scheduled dry-docking of the ship, following entry into force of the SOLAS amendments, together with related amendments to the LSA Code and the Recommendation on testing of LSA, which require safer design of on-load release mechanisms.

Corrosion of oil tanks

  • A new draft SOLAS regulation II-1/3-11 on Corrosion protection of cargo oil tanks of crude oil tankers, to require all such tanks to be protected against corrosion. The MSC is also expected to approve the related Performance standard for protective coatings for cargo oil tanks of crude oil tankers and Performance standard for alternative means of corrosion protection for cargo oil tanks of crude oil tankers; as well as Guidelines on procedures for in-service maintenance and repair of coating systems for cargo oil tanks of crude oil tankers.

Fire protection

  • Draft amendments to SOLAS regulation II-2/4.5.7 on Gas measurement and detection, to require fixed hydrocarbon gas detection systems to be installed in ballast tanks and void spaces adjacent to cargo tanks located outside the oil tanker's cargo block area, such as forepeak tanks, and a new related draft chapter 16 to the International Code for Fire Safety Systems (FSS Code), to give the specifications for fixed hydrocarbon gas detection systems; and
  • Amendments to SOLAS regulation II-2/7.4.1 to add a new sub-paragraph to require a fixed fire detection and fire alarm system to be installed "in enclosed spaces containing incinerators", as well as in specified machinery spaces, as well as draft amendments to the FSS Code to replace the existing chapter 10 (Sample extraction smoke detection systems), with updated and revised sections.

Piracy and armed robbery against ships

The MSC will review the latest statistics on piracy and armed robbery against ships, in particular in relation to the situation off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, where ships continue to be attacked and hijacked, despite the concerted efforts of the international community, spearheaded by IMO, navies and the industry, to protect shipping. The Committee will be updated on measures taken by IMO to assist States in implementing the Djibouti Code of Conduct concerning the repression of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.

The Committee is also expected to consider the development of advice and guidance to flag States on any measures or actions necessary to ensure that any attacked or hijacked ship entitled to fly their flag, and its shipboard personnel, continue to be fit to trade and work on board, respectively; and to establish, as necessary, plans and procedures to assist those who have been held hostage, when such assistance is requested.

It is expected that the Committee will also be invited to consider the possible establishment of a facility at IMO for the purpose of providing LRIT information to security forces operating in waters of the Gulf of Aden and the Western Indian Ocean to aid their work in combating piracy and armed robbery against ships, bearing in mind the invaluable service that they provide to the maritime community and the shipping industry.

A proposed draft MSC resolution onPromulgation of Navigational Warnings concerning counter-piracy operations will be considered for adoption.

LRIT-related matters

The MSC is expected to review the status with regard to the establishment of the global LRIT system and will be invited to consider the designation of a permanent International Data Exchange.

The report of the eighth meeting of the Ad Hoc LRIT Group, the results of the first audit of the LRIT Data Centres and issues concerning the LRIT system’s production phase, will also be reviewed.

Implementation of the revised STCW Convention

The list of Parties deemed to be giving full and complete effect to the provisions of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) 1978, as amended, is expected to be updated when the Secretary-General submits his report on those countries whose independent evaluations have been completed since the previous MSC meeting.

Other issues

The MSC will consider other issues arising from the reports of Sub-Committees and other bodies, including the approval or adoption of:

  • the draft International Code for the Application of Fire Test Procedures, 2010 (2010 FTP Code), which has been comprehensively revised to make the Code user‑friendly and enhance its uniform application;
  • draft amendments to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code (amendment 35-10), to include revisions to carriage provisions for specific goods, as well as a number of changes to provisions for dangerous goods packed in limited and excepted quantities, to include a new excepted quantities mark, and amendments to provisions relating to intermediate bulk containers, large packagings, portable tanks, multiple-element gas containers and road tank vehicles;
  • draft amendments to the Code of Practice for the Safe Loading and Unloading of Bulk Carriers (BLU Code) and the Manual on Loading and Unloading of Solid Bulk Cargoes for Terminal Representatives, to update the two documents in view of the mandatory International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code, which is expected to enter into force on 1 January 2011;
  • the draft revised International SafetyNET Manual;
  • draft Safety Recommendations for decked fishing vessels of less than 12 metres in length and undecked fishing vessels, for approval and concurrent endorsement by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO);
  • draft Interim Guidelines for the construction and equipment of ships carrying natural gas hydrate pellets (NGHP) in bulk;
  • draft Performance Standards for Bridge Alert Management; and
  • a number of new and amended ships' routeing systems and mandatory ship reporting systems, already approved by the Sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation (NAV) at its 55th session in July 2009.

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