New SOLAS Regulations Go into Effect

Monday, July 01, 2002
Amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) affecting many aspects of ship safety go into effect on July 1, including a new revised SOLAS chapter on fire protection, fire detection and fire extinction, amendments to chapters II-1, IX and X (to make a new High-Speed Craft Code mandatory) and record of equipment attached to safety certificates. New rules on fire protection, fire detection and fire extinction A revised SOLAS chapter II-2 (Construction - Fire protection, fire detection and fire extinction) enters into force, which also makes a new International Code for Fire Safety Systems (FSS Code) mandatory. The revised chapter was developed over eight years by the Sub-Committee on Fire Protection and provides an entirely new structure for SOLAS chapter II-2 which may better accommodate the way port and flag States and ship designers deal with fire safety issues in the future. The new structure focuses on the "fire scenario process" rather than on ship type, as the previous SOLAS chapter II-2 was structured. Thus, the regulations start with prevention, detection, and suppression following all the way through to escape. In addition, to make the revised SOLAS chapter II-2 more user-friendly, specific system-related technical requirements have been moved to the new International Fire Safety Systems Code and each regulation has a purpose statement and functional requirements to assist port and flag States.

The revised SOLAS chapter II-2 has a new part E that deals exclusively with human element matters such as training, drills and maintenance issues and a new part F that sets out a methodology for approving alternative (or novel) designs and arrangements. International Fire Safety Systems (FSS) Code Some of the original technical provisions of SOLAS chapter II-2 on fire protection have been transferred from the Convention to the Code, and many others are spelled out in greater detail in the Code. The main reason behind having a separate Code was to separate carriage and other statutory requirements, which clearly belong in the Convention and are meant for the Administration, from purely technical provisions, which are better suited for the Code and may be applied in a more user-friendly manner by equipment manufacturers, systems engineers, etc. The purpose of the FSS Code is to provide international standards for fire safety systems required by revised SOLAS chapter II-2, under which it is made mandatory. The FSS Code consists of 15 chapters, each addressing specific systems and arrangements, except for chapter I which contains a several definitions and also general requirements for approval of alternative designs and toxic extinguishing media. Application of chapter II-2 to existing ships The new chapter II-2 applies to ships constructed on or after 1 July 2002. However, the chapter also applies to existing ships for the following regulations: · All ships which undergo repairs, alterations, modifications and outfitting related thereto shall continue to comply with at least the requirements previously applicable to these ships. Such ships, if constructed before 1 July 2002, shall, as a rule, comply with the requirements for ships constructed on or after that date to at least the same extent as they did before undergoing such repairs, alterations, modifications or outfitting (regulation 1.3.1). · Repairs, alterations and modifications which substantially alter the dimensions of a ship or the passenger accommodation spaces, or substantially increase a ship's service life and outfitting related thereto shall meet the requirements for ships constructed on or after 1 July 2002 in so far as the Administration deems reasonable and practicable (regulation 1.3.2). · Combination carriers constructed before, on or after 1 July 2002 shall not carry cargoes other than oil unless all cargo spaces are empty of oil and gas-freed or unless the arrangements provided in each case have been be approved by the Administration taking into account the guidelines developed by the Organization (Guidelines for inert gas systems (MSC/Circ.353, as amended by MSC/Circ.387) (regulation 1.6.5). · In cargo pump-rooms in tankers, temperature sensing devices for bulkhead shaft glands, bearings and pump casings shall be fitted; all pump-rooms shall be provided with bilge level monitoring devices together with appropriately located alarms; and a system for continuous monitoring of the concentration of hydrocarbon gases shall be fitted on all tankers constructed before 1 July 2002 by the date of the first scheduled dry-docking after 1 July 2002, but not later than 1 July 2005 (regulation 1.6.7). · Emergency escape breathing devices (EEBD) - All existing ships must have these fitted not later than the date of the first survey after 1 July 2002 as follows: all ships shall carry at least two emergency escape breathing devices within accommodation spaces; in passenger ships, at least two emergency escape breathing devices shall be carried in each main vertical zone; in passenger ships carrying more than 36 passengers, two emergency escape breathing devices, in addition to those required above, shall be carried in each main vertical zone. (Regulations 13.3.4.2 to 13.3.4.5 - certain exemptions apply - see regulation 13.3.4.5). On all ships, within the machinery spaces, emergency escape breathing devices shall be situated ready for use at easily visible places, which can be reached quickly and easily at any time in the event of fire. The location of emergency escape breathing devices must take into account the layout of the machinery space and the number of persons normally working in the spaces. The number and location of EEBDs must be indicated in the fire control plan and they must comply with the Fire Safety Systems Code (regulation 13.4.3, which refers to the Guidelines for the performance, location, use and care of emergency escape breathing devices (MSC/Circ.849).) · Part E - Operational requirements - All existing ships must comply with part E (except regulations 16.3.2.2 and 16.3.2.3 - relating to inert gas systems, as appropriate) not later than the date of the first survey after 1 July 2002. Part E includes regulation 14 on Operational readiness and maintenance; regulation 15 on Instructions, onboard training and drills; and regulation 16 on Operations. · For new installations only on existing ships: Fire-extinguishing systems using Halon 1211, 1301, and 2402 and perfluorocarbons are prohibited for new installations (regulation 10.4.1.3). · Deep-fat cooking equipment - for new installations on existing ships, the fire extinguishing systems for deep-fat cooking equipment must comply with regulation 10.6.4, including the requirement for an automatic or manual extinguishing system; a primary and backup thermostat with an alarm; arrangements for automatically shutting off the electrical power upon activation of the extinguishing system; an alarm for indicating operation of the extinguishing system in the galley where the equipment is installed; and controls for manual operation of the extinguishing system which are clearly labelled for ready use by the crew. (The regulation refers to the recommendations by the International Organization for Standardization, in particular, Publication ISO 15371:2000 on Fire?extinguishing systems for protection of galley deep?fat cooking equipment.) ins which substantially alter the di· Passenger ships of 2,000 gross tonnage and above must comply not later than 1 October 2005 with regulations for fixed local application fire-fighting systems (regulation 10.5.6). The regulation requires certain machinery spaces above 500 m3 in volume to be protected by an approved type of fixed water?based or equivalent local application fire-fighting system. The regulation refers to Guidelines for the approval of fixed water-based local application fire-fighting systems for use in category A machinery spaces (MSC/Circ.913). Fixed local application fire-fighting systems are to protect areas such as the following without the necessity of engine shutdown, personnel evacuation, or sealing of the spaces: the fire hazard portions of internal combustion machinery used for the ship's main propulsion and power generation; boiler fronts; the fire hazard portions of incinerators; and purifiers for heated fuel oil. Asbestos prohibited in new installations A new regulation 3-5 in SOLAS Chapter II-1 (Construction - Structure, subdivision and stability, machinery and electrical installations) prohibits the new installation of materials which contain asbestos on all ships. The regulation states that for all ships, new installation of materials which contain asbestos shall be prohibited except for vanes used in rotary vane compressors and rotary vane vacuum pumps, watertight joints and linings used for the circulation of fluids when, at high temperature or pressure there is a risk of fire, corrosion or toxicity, and supple and flexible thermal insulation assemblies used for temperatures above 1000ºC. New High-Speed Craft Code, 2000 The new High-Speed Craft Code, 2000 is an updated version of the High-Speed Craft Code adopted in 1994 and made mandatory under SOLAS chapter X (Safety measures for high-speed craft). The new Code applies to all HSC built on or after the date of entry into force. The original HSC Code was adopted by IMO in May 1994, but the rapid pace of development in this sector of shipping has meant an early revision of the Code. The original Code will continue to apply to existing high-speed craft. The changes incorporated in the new Code are intended to bring it into line with amendments to SOLAS and new recommendations that have been adopted in the past four years - for example, requirements covering public address systems and helicopter pick-up areas. Consequential amendments to SOLAS chapter X (Safety measures for high-speed craft) - to make the new Code mandatory - were also adopted. Record of equipment Amendments to the appendix to the Annex to the Convention include revision of the details of navigational systems and equipment referred to in the records of equipment attached to the relevant safety certificate. The amendments reflect the changes introduced by the revised SOLAS chapter V. 1988 SOLAS Protocol - certificates Amendments to the 1988 SOLAS Protocol include revision to the details of navigational systems and equipment referred to in the records of equipment attached to certificates. The amendments reflect the changes to SOLAS chapter V. Amendments to codes The following amendments to mandatory codes, adopted in December 2000, also enter into force on 1 July 2002: · Amendments to the International Code for the Application of Fire Test Procedures (FTP Code) to add new parts 10 and 11 to annex 1 on tests for fire-restricting material for high-speed craft and tests for fire-resisting divisions of high-speed craft. · Amendments to the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code) and the Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (BCH Code) relating to cargo hose requirements, protection of personnel and carriage of carbon disulphide. · Amendments to the International Safety Management Code (ISM Code) including the replacement of Chapter 13 (on certification, verification and control) with a new Chapter 13 (on certification) and additional Chapters 14 (Interim certification), 15 (Forms of certificate) and 16 Verification; as well as a new appendix giving forms of documents and certificates. · Amendments to the Code for the Construction and equipment of ships carrying dangerous chemicals in bulk (BCH Code) relating to ship's cargo hoses, tank vent systems, safety equipment, operational requirements; and amendments to the Code for the construction and equipment of ships carrying liquefied gases in bulk (GC Code) relating to ship's cargo hoses, personnel protection and operating requirements. May 1998 amendments to SOLAS The following SOLAS amendments which enter into force on 1 July 2002 were adopted in 1998: In Chapter II-1 - Construction - Subdivision and stability, machinery and electrical installations, visual examination of welded connections, where filling with water or a hose test are not practicable, is now allowed under regulation 14 on Construction and initial testing of watertight bulkheads, etc., in passenger ships and cargo ships. In Chapter IV - Radiocommunications, regulation 5-1 requires Contracting Governments to ensure suitable arrangements are in place for registering Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) identities (including ship's call sign, Inmarsat identities) and making the information available 24 hours a day to Rescue Co-ordination Centres. Testing intervals for satellite emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRBS) are updated in a new paragraph 9 to regulation 15 Maintenance Requirements. A new regulation 18 on Position updating requires automatic provision of information regarding the ship's position where two-way communication equipment is capable of providing automatically the ship's position in the distress alert. Where manual updating of the ship's position is required, this should be done not less than every four hours when the ship is underway. In Chapter VI Carriage of Cargoes (Regulation 5) and Chapter VII Carriage of Dangerous Goods (Regulation 6), "all cargoes, other than solid and liquid bulk cargoes" should be loaded, stowed and secured in accordance with the Cargo Securing Manual. SOLAS Background Of all international conventions dealing with maritime safety, the most important is the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). It is also one of the oldest, the first version having been adopted at a conference held in London in 1914, in the wake of the Titanic disaster of 1912. Since then there have been four other SOLAS conventions: the second was adopted in 1929 and entered into force in 1933; the third was adopted in 1948 and entered into force in 1952; the fourth was adopted (under the auspices of IMO) in 1960 and entered into force in 1965; and the present version was adopted in 1974 and entered into force in 1980. It has now been ratified by 141 countries representing 98.34 per cent of world merchant shipping tonnage.

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