Bulker Safety Creeps le The Forefront Again

The council of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) has agreed on an extensive new package of what it terms "tough measures and initiatives" to improve bulk carrier safety.

The initiative, which is built on previous successful initiatives and a dedicated study begun last year, is a five-element program which addresses both enhanced watertight integrity for the existing fleet and design developments for future ships. Key elements include acceleration of IACS' cargo hold surveys on older vessels, more rigorous requirements in the IACS Enhanced Survey Program and proactive cooperation to improve loading practices. Work is to accelerate on new Unified Requirements for newbuildings contracted on or after July 1, 1998, and fresh research into increasing survivability of laden ships experiencing accidental hold flooding will also be stepped up.

ONE: To accelerate completion of the cargo hold element of its Enhanced Survey Program, the council agreed that members may require this before the previous deadline of January 1, 1998. This applies to all pre-1987-built bulk carriers 492 ft. (150 m) and longer classed by IACS' members that have not commenced an Enhanced Special Survey by a date to be specified by each IACS member no later than January 1, 1997.

TWO: IACS is introducing significant new provisions to tighten and extend its Enhanced Survey Program for bulk carriers. Annual surveys will now require close-up surveys of hatch covers and coamings. Ships more than 10 and less than 15 years old will require an overall survey of all cargo holds and a close-up survey of the lower third of a minimum of 25 percent of shell frames, including their lower end attachment, and adjacent shell plating in one forward cargo hold. In the case of vessels more than 15 years old, the same provision is extended to cover two cargo holds. In intermediate surveys on vessels of 10 and less than 15 years old, an overall survey of all cargo holds and a close-up survey of two holds, frame attachments and bulkheads are expanded to cover all cargo holds, with close-up survey to cover a minimum of 25 percent of shell frames. In ships older than 15 years, these requirements are increased to cover all frames and transverse bulkheads in all holds.

The accelerated cargo hold surveys and more rigorous enhanced survey program provisions are to be implemented by all IACS members by no later than January 1, 1997.

THREE: On the operational side, IACS is seeking to reduce risk and damage to bulk carriers caused by improper loading practices. It is proposing to the IMO, Intercargo and the International Chamber of Shipping that a working group be set up to identify and visit the administrations responsible for port services in the main bulk loading countries, and major companies concerned with mineral exports. The objective will be to obtain their cooperation in proper loading/unloading practices, especially recognizing the crucial cooperation between ships' staff and loading terminal personnel, which is necessary for avoiding the risks of damaging stresses during ship loading and discharging.

FOUR: Council has tasked an IACS working party to complete its work on defining enhanced design strength criteria for new ships. This includes research in preparation for introducing new or revised IACS Unified Requirements on longitudinal strength and doublebottom strength in hold flooded condition; strength or watertight transverse corrugated bulkheads; the robustness of side shell and side frame structures; and the robustness and reliability of hatch covers in heavy weather. The plan is to complete a comprehensive and integrated set of IACS requirements for adoption no later than July 1, 1997, which will apply to new ships contracted for construction on or after July 1, 1998.

FIVE: IACS members are developing measures which, if complied with, would enable the transverse watertight bulkhead boundaries of cargo holds of existing bulk carriers of 492 ft. (150 m) and above to withstand flooding of any cargo hold in all permissable conditions of loading, taking into account dynamic effects resulting from the presence of water in the hold.

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