TT Talk - IMO briefing 1 Jan 2016

The International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) was first adopted a little over a century ago, albeit that version never entered into force due to the First World War. Now a central pillar for international maritime safety, under the custody of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a number of new amendments entered into force with effect from 1 January 2016.

SOLAS sets out the minimum safety standards relating to construction, equipment and operation for merchant shipping. The fifth version of the convention, adopted in 1974, included the important 'tacit acceptance procedure', by which subsequent amendments enter into force on a specified date unless, before that date, objections to the amendment are received from an agreed number of signatory states. The start of the New Year brings in some agreed changes; key ones affecting containerised shipping are explained here.

IMDG Amendment 37-14

As reported at the

outset of 2015

, the latest adopted amendment of the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code have now entered into mandatory effect. All versions other than Amendment 37-14 should be discarded and are no longer valid.

"All versions other than Amendment 37-14 should be discarded and are no longer valid"

The main changes were:

• Part 1: New and amended definitions as well as a new provision for the carriage of lamps containing dangerous goods.

• Part 2: Numerous updates to the classification of substances.

• Part 3: Various updates to the Dangerous Goods List, including dividing Column 16 (Stowage and segregation) to provide more detailed information on the requirements under Part 7. Special provisions SP 961 and SP 962 were also amended to provide clarity on the carriage requirements for combustion engines, fuel cell engines and battery-powered engines (UN 3166 and UN 3171).

• Part 4: New and amended packing instructions, including special packing provisions for radioactive materials and special provisions for portable tanks.

• Part 5: Revised marking, placarding and transportation documentation requirements.

• Part 6: New provisions for UN pressure receptacles, updated packing and transportation requirements for radioactive materials, updated marking for intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) and a more durable marking requirement for certain portable tanks.

• Part 7: Development of new code lists for stowage, handling and segregation of dangerous goods. Also, instructions to prevent the use of counterfeit refrigerant gases.

The Supplement to the Code also contained revision of the emergency response schedule for water reactive materials in the

EmS Guide


Fire protection

As the world container fleet continues to be renewed, another important amendment concerns fire protection requirements for new ships designed to carry containers on or above the weather deck. This amendment was approved in Resolution MSC.365(93) at the 93rd session of IMO's Maritime Safety Committee and adopted on 22 May 2014.

The relevant part of the amendment, Regulation 10 of SOLAS II-2, concerns 'Firefighting' requirements and a new sub-paragraph 1.2 has been inserted which states:

 "For open-top container holds* and on deck container stowage areas on ships designed to carry containers on or above the weather deck, constructed on or after 1 January 2016, for protection arrangements shall be provided for the purpose of containing a fire in the space or area or origin and cooling adjacent areas to prevent fire spread and structural damage"
*(MSC/Circ.608/Rev1) the "Interim Guidelines for Open-top Containerships" defines such a ship as "a containership especially designed so that one or more of the cargo holds need not be fitted with hatch covers."

In addition, there is a new paragraph 7.3 which requires that ships constructed after 1 January 2016 shall also carry at least one 'water mist lance'. The paragraph goes on to describe such a lance as a "tube with a piercing nozzle which is capable of penetrating a container wall and producing water mist inside a confined space (container, etc.) when connected to the fire main".

The new provision goes on to state that where five or more tiers of containers are carried on or above the weather deck, ships with a breadth less than 30m must carry at least two 'mobile water monitors' and ships greater than 30m breadth at least four such monitors, and they shall be kept ready for use outside the cargo space.

A 'mobile water monitor' must conform with the requirements of MSC.1/Circ.1472, but in essence is a device capable of delivering a minimum of 1,000 litres per minute of water and throwing the jet for a distance of 40 metres at a horizontal elevation of 30 to 35 degrees; see the


for full details. The new provisions go on to stipulate that the number of fire hydrants must be sufficient to operate all monitors simultaneously at the required pressure levels and able to reach the top tier of containers on deck.

"These measures are certainly welcome for stakeholders concerned with the consequences of an outbreak of fire in the deck stow of container ships"

These measures are certainly welcome for stakeholders concerned with the consequences of an outbreak of fire in the deck stow of container ships - particularly those that are larger. This is a vexed topic for the industry, which has seen an increase over the last five years in the incidence of cargo related fires on board ships. While the causes of such container-seated fires are varied, the limitations in firefighting capability, particularly for more inaccessible parts of the deck stow, should continue to attract attention. Correctly packed and declared goods in containers, stowed in the right fashion, are critical, but detection and suppression systems need to be thoroughly effective.

We gratefully acknowledge the assistance in the preparation of this article of Capt. Richard Brough OBE, Technical Adviser to ICHCA International.

We hope that you have found the above interesting. If you would like further information, or have any comments, please email us, or take this opportunity to forward to any colleagues who you may feel would be interested.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Peregrine Storrs-Fox

Staff Author

TT Club