Recent SOLAS Amendments-1 (2014)

Recovery of persons from the water
With this SOLAS amendment, adopted in 2012, came in force on 1 July 2014. It aimed at improving SAR capability in situations of insufficient rescue force. It also aimed towards raising the potential of ships which actually have the capability to effectively serve as a rescue asset and have the right survival equipment too. The rescue of persons from the water and from survival craft was thus, duly encouraged. This new requirement would provide support to search and rescue coordinators in all types of rescue operations.  Thus, even where the helicopters and specialized rescue craft are limited, the chances of survival are adequate.

The related Guidelines for the development of plans and procedures for recovery of persons from the water (MSC.1/Circ.1447) must be duly incorporated in to ship’s plans made for similar activities. 

The procedures for the recovery of persons from the water should indicate the conditions for which operational procedure has been created. It though, is written ship specific, it should be conducted without endangering the ship’s crew. Following are some of the points:

  1. maneuverability of the ship;
  2. freeboard of the ship;
  3. points on the ship to which casualties may be recovered;
  4. characteristics and limitations of equipment intended to be used for recovery operations;
  5. available crew and personal protective equipment (PPE);
  6. wind force, direction and spray;
  7. significant wave height (Hs);
  8. period of waves;
  9. swell; and
  10. safety of navigation.

The crew must be familiar with the plans, procedures and equipment for recovery of persons from the water through drills. These drills may be conducted in conjunction with routine man-overboard drills.
The Contracting Governments must determine, to what extent the requirements should apply to: cargo ships of a gross tonnage below 500 engaged on any voyage; cargo ships of a gross tonnage of 500 and above not engaged on international voyages; passenger ships not engaged on international voyages; fishing vessels; high-speed craft; dynamically supported craft; special purpose ships; and mobile offshore drilling units.

Reducing on-board noise
Another important regulation that came in force on 1 July 2014 is in chapter II-1 of SOLAS. It requires new ships to be constructed to reduce on-board noise and to protect personnel from noise, in accordance with the revised Code on noise levels on board ships. The code sets out mandatory maximum noise level limits for machinery spaces, control rooms, workshops, accommodation and other spaces on board ships.

Resolution MSC.337(91) (adopted on 30 November 2012) adopted the code on noise levels onboard ships. The Code was intended to provide standards to prevent the occurrence of potentially hazardous noise levels on board ships. Some ships are exempted from these requirements. The Code is intended to provide the basis for a design standard, with compliance. This is based on Noise Survey Report found in sea trial. The crew is trained in the personal protection and maintenance of mitigation measures. This will ensure operational compliance.
Requirements and recommendations are also in respect of:  measurement of noise levels and exposure; and verification of acoustic insulation between accommodation spaces. Various chapters of code are regarding further information on; measuring equipment,  maximum acceptable sound pressure levels, acoustic insulation, hearing protection, warning information, etc

Fire-fighter communication on-board
Amendments to SOLAS regulation II-2/10 on fire fighting requires a minimum of two, two-way portable radiotelephone apparatus for each fire party for fire fighters’ communication to be carried. The apparatus shall be of an explosion-proof type or intrinsically safe.

Other amendments to Chapter II-2
a. Instructions, on-board training and drills Further amendments to regulation II-2/15 on instructions, on-board training and drills require an on-board means of recharging breathing apparatus cylinders used during drills, or a suitable number of spare cylinders.

b. Protection of vehicle, special category and ro-ro spaces
Another amendment to regulation 20 of chapter II/2, was on protection of vehicle, special category and ro-ro spaces. related to fixed fire-extinguishing systems. The amendments apply to ships constructed on or after 1 July 2014. Ships constructed before 1 July 2014 shall comply with the previously applicable requirements.

It is to be noted that Part G of this chapter is, ‘Special Requirements’. Its regulation 20 is ‘Protection of Vehicle, Special Category and Ro-Ro Spaces’(VESCROS). This regulation aims to provide additional safety measures in order to address the fire safety objectives for ships fitted with VESCROS. It wants fire protection systems shall be provided to adequately protect the ship from the fire hazards associated with VESCROS. The VESCROS must be separate from ignition sources, well ventilated. Precaution against ignition of flammable vapours in VESCROS. Effective power ventilation system with to 10 air changes are to be provided. Monitoring shall be provided on the navigation bridge. Arrangements shall be provided to permit a rapid shutdown and effective closure of the ventilation system from outside of the space in case of fire, taking into account the weather and sea conditions.

In respect of fixed fire detection and fire alarm systems, Fire Safety Systems Code must be complied with. The fixed fire detection system shall be capable of rapidly detecting the onset of fire. The type of detectors and their spacing and location shall be to the satisfaction of the Administration, taking into account the effects of ventilation and other relevant factors.
Vehicle spaces and ro-ro spaces which are not special category spaces and are capable of being sealed from a location outside of the cargo spaces shall be fitted with a fixed gas fire-extinguishing system. If a carbon dioxide fire-extinguishing system is fitted, the quantity of gas available shall be at least sufficient to give a minimum volume of free gas equal to 45% of the gross volume of the largest such cargo space which is capable of being sealed, and the arrangements shall be such as to ensure that at least two thirds of the gas required for the relevant space shall be introduced within 10 min. Any other fixed inert gas fire-extinguishing system or fixed high expansion foam fire-extinguishing system may be fitted provided the Administration is satisfied that an equivalent protection is achieved.

Ro-ro and vehicle spaces not capable of being sealed and special category spaces shall be fitted with an approved fixed pressure water-spraying system† for manual operation which shall protect all parts of any deck and vehicle platform in such spaces. Such water spray systems shall have clear marking on each manifold valve indicating the spaces served. A sufficient number of drainage valves are to be provided.
The Administration may permit the use of any other fixed fire-extinguishing system that has been shown, by a full-scale test in conditions simulating a flowing petrol fire in a vehicle space or a ro-ro space.
MSC.1/Circ. 1515 dated June 2015 is in respect of revised guidelines for the design of suitable ventilation systems for vehicle decks on ro-ro ships, car carriers and car ferries. It deals with various exhaust gases and their composition. Thus, exhaust gases from motor vehicles contain hazardous substances. Carbon monoxide (CO) from petrol engines, and nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from diesel engines.
Certain substances have a tangible, immediate effect. Others only show injurious effects after a person has been exposed to them for some time. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless and odourless gas which, to a lesser or greater extent inhibits the ability of the blood to absorb and transport oxygen. Nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are compounds of nitrogen and oxygen. NO2 is a brown gas which has a stinging, suffocating odour. It exerts a detrimental effect on the human respiratory system. Asthmatics in particular are susceptible to exposure.

Ventilation on board ships
Ventilation systems for ro-ro cargo spaces on board ship generally operate according to the principle of dilution, whereby the supply air flow to the area is sufficient for the exhaust gases to mix thoroughly with the air and be removed. There are two main types of dilution ventilation: exhaust air ventilation and supply air ventilation. Briefly, in exhaust air ventilation, fans remove air from a ro-ro cargo space, and this is then replaced by outdoor air entering through open ramps, doors and other openings. Exhaust air ventilation is employed when sub-atmospheric pressure is required in the ro-ro cargo space. The sub-atmospheric pressure prevents the pollution from spreading to adjacent areas.
Supply air ventilation works in the opposite way. Fans deliver outdoor air into the ro-ro cargo space and the air is then exhausted through ramps and other openings. Supply air ventilation usually creates slight pressurization of the ro-ro cargo space.

Conditions and guidelines for calculating air requirements
The basic particulars necessary for calculating the supply air required are contained in ISO 9785:2002 or national versions of this standard. To assess the number of vehicles which may be in operation at the same time in a cargo space without the occupants being exposed to a hazardous or discomforting level of pollution the guidance contained in ISO 9785:2002 for estimating the flow of outdoor air required to dilute and remove the gases exhausted by a vehicle should be followed.

Change to Forms of certificates and records of equipment
Amendments to the appendix to the annex to the SOLAS Convention replace all forms of certificates and records of equipment, including its 1988 Protocol, and further amendments relate to the forms of the Cargo Ship Safety Construction Certificate and Cargo Ship Safety Equipment Certificate of its 1978 Protocol.

Safety approval plate and new containers
Amendments were made to the form of the safety approval plate and to the approval of existing and new containers. The amendments also introduce a transitional period for marking containers with restricted stacking capacity and include a list of deficiencies which do not require an immediate out-of-service decision by control officers, but require additional safety measures to enable safe ongoing transport. Every container should have a valid safety approval plate called CSC (Container Safety Convention) plate in order for it to be used in international trade. This is in accordance with the provisions of the International Convention on Safe Containers of 1972.
The role of this CSC plate is to confirm that the container has been inspected and found to be in a condition suitable for transportation on board the ship. This plate has all the details of the Owners, Technical Data, and ACEP information. ACEP being short for, Approved Continuous Examination Programme. In short, every 30 months a container must be turned into a Container Depot for examination. The CSC plate also shows the gross weight as can be seen in an example below.

Fig shows a CSC plate for a TEU. The allowed weight in above case is 31,500 kgs including the tare weight of the container. This should not be exceeded.

Note:  Container Number is marked on the door. It is an alpha numeric sequence made up of 4 Alphabets and 7 Numbers. The container number identification system is created by the International Standards Organisation under their code IS06346:1995(E).
First 3 letters PSQ in above example is owner code. The 4th letter is equipment category (U denotes a freight container. J is for detachable container-related equipment (such as Genset) and Z is for trailers and chassis). Out of 7 numbers the first 6 are serial number and last one is check digit.

Shore based support to passenger ships
Amendment to SOLAS regulation II-1/8-1, introduces a mandatory requirement for new passenger ships for either onboard stability computers or shore-based support, for the purpose of providing operational information to the Master for safe return to port after a flooding casualty.

Testing of freefall lifeboat
Amendment to SOLAS regulation III/20.11.2 regarding the testing of free-fall lifeboats, requires that the operational testing of free-fall lifeboat release systems shall be performed either by free-fall launch with only the operating crew on board or by a simulated launching.

Minimum safe manning levels
Amendment to SOLAS chapter V to add a new regulation V/14 on ships’ manning, to require Administrations, for every ship, to establish appropriate minimum safe manning levels following a transparent procedure, taking into account the guidance adopted by IMO (Assembly resolution A.1047(27) on Principles of minimum safe manning); and issue an appropriate minimum safe manning document or equivalent as the evidence of the minimum safe manning considered necessary.

Blending of bulk liquid cargoes
Amendment to SOLAS chapter VI to add a new regulation VI/5-2, to prohibit the blending of bulk liquid cargoes during the sea voyage and to prohibit production processes on board ships.

Dangerous goods documents
Amendment to SOLAS chapter VII replaces regulation 4 on documents, covering transport information relating to the carriage of dangerous goods in packaged form and the container/vehicle packing certificate.

Regulation 4 of chapter VII, documentation states,
‘1.  Transport information relating to the carriage of dangerous goods in packaged form and the container/vehicle packing certificate shall be in accordance with the relevant provisions of the IMDG Code and shall be made available to the person or organization designated by the port State authority.
2. Each ship carrying dangerous goods in packaged form shall have a special list, manifest or stowage plan setting forth, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the IMDG Code, the dangerous goods on board and the location thereof. A copy of one of these documents shall be made available before departure to the person or organization designated by the port State authority.’

ESP Code
Amendment to SOLAS regulation XI-1/2 on enhanced surveys, was caused to make mandatory the International Code on the Enhanced Programme of Inspections during Surveys of Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers, 2011 (Resolution A.1049(27)). This code has various chapters dealing with: renewal survey; annual survey; intermediate survey; preparations for survey; documentation on board; procedures for thickness measurements; reporting and evaluation of survey, etc. There ar several annexes dealing with: the requirements for various jobs and activities at various survey at renewal surveys;  owner’s inspection report;  survey programme; survey planning questionnaire; reporting principles; condition evaluation report; gauging of the vertically corrugated transverse watertight bulkhead between holds Nos.1 and 2;  measurements of side shell frames and brackets in single-side skin bulk carriers, etc.

(You may also visit my youtube videos

Leave a Reply