Recap: IMO MSC 102

Highlights from the IMO Maritime Safety Committee, held online from 4 to 11 November 2020 and attended by SYBAss.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) held its 102nd session online from 4 to 11 November 2020. This annual meeting deals with all matters related to maritime safety and maritime security which fall within the scope of IMO, covering both passenger ships and all kinds of cargo ships. This includes updating the SOLAS Convention and related codes, such as those covering dangerous goods, life-saving appliances and fire safety systems.

Among other topics, MSC 102 also considered the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on seafarers and the session agreed on measures to make information that may facilitate safe crew changes available to all affected parties. Lorenzo Pollicardo, SYBAss’ Technical and Environmental Director, was in attendance and ensured that member interests were well-represented on the global regulatory stage.

The committee agreed on the relevant updates to the SOLAS Convention and other IMO instruments on maritime safety, as follows:

  • Adopted new requirements for safe mooring operations: amendments to SOLAS Chapter II-1/3-8 which includes new requirements on the: design of mooring arrangements; selection of mooring equipment including lines; and, regime for maintenance and inspection of mooring equipment including lines.
  • Approved new interim guidelines for methyl/ethyl alcohols as fuel.
  • Approved new guidance for weather-dependent lashing of cargoes: modifications to Annex 13 of the Code of Safe Practice for Cargo Stowage and Securing (CSS Code) to determine weather-dependent acceleration reductions on non-standardized cargoes, including vehicles on ro-ro ships and heavy cargoes. Amendments to the following instruments were approved accordingly: revised guidelines for the preparation of the Cargo Securing Manual; guidelines for securing arrangements for the transport of road vehicles on ships; and, Code of Safe Practice for Ships Carrying Timber Deck Cargoes.
  • Approved new requirements for lifting appliances and anchor handling winches: a new draft SOLAS Regulation II-1/3-13 requiring applicable on-board lifting appliances and anchor handling winches to be designed, constructed and installed in accordance with classification rules or equivalent rules acceptable to the flag administration. Associated guidelines for lifting appliances and associated loose gear were approved in principle. The new regulation will enter into force on 1 January 2024, with retroactive application, subject to adoption by MSC 103.
  • Approved interim guidelines for the second-generation intact stability criteria: The 2008 Intact Stability Code uses empirical criteria, based on past casualty data. Hence, as ship design evolves, the uncertainty of these criteria increases. The new second-generation intact stability criteria are performance-based and rely on advanced numerical simulations or simplified criteria in addition to operational measures.

In addition, a number of key amendments were agreed upon. The following are potentially relevant to the superyacht industry:

  • (SOLAS) Watertight integrity: Amendments to SOLAS Chapter II-1 align the design criteria for watertight integrity in parts B-2 to B-4 with the probabilistic damage stability approach in parts B and B-1. The amendments address inter alia assumptions regarding progressive flooding, valves in the collision bulkhead and watertight doors. The amendments will enter into force on 1 January 2024, with voluntary early implementation of Regulation 12 on collision bulkhead valves.
  • (SDC) Watertight doors on passenger ships: The revised Explanatory Notes to SOLAS Chapter II-1 include a new Explanatory Note to Regulation 17.3 regarding doors above the bulkhead deck for passenger ships. The purpose is to add clarity to the requirements for fire safety, water-tightness and escape. The MSC 102 approved amendments to the associated MSC.1/Circ. 1572 regarding doors in watertight bulkheads of passenger ships and cargo ships.
  • (SSE) Launching of free fall-lifeboats: The MSC 102 agreed to remove the requirement to launch free-fall lifeboats with the ship making headway at speeds up to 5 knots in calm water, as there is no additional dynamic load on the launching arrangements to be accounted for. Draft amendments to SOLAS Chapter III/33, the LSA Code para and Resolution MSC:81(70) were approved accordingly. The draft amendments enter into force on 1 January 2024, subject to adoption by the MSC 103, with voluntary early implementation.

SYBAss members will soon receive, as usual, a detailed report on this IMO Martime Safety Committee meeting.