Adoption of mandatory gas-fuel ship code underway

ship nigeria ports authorityTHE Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) of International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is expected to adopt a new mandatory code for gas-fueled ships at its ongoing meeting in London. The committee is scheduled to meet for its 95th session from 3 to 12 June 2015.

The Committee will also consider cyber security matters and passenger ship safety, as well as a number of items put forward by the sub-committees.

According to IMO, the MSC is expected to adopt the draft International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other Low-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code), along with draft amendments to make the Code mandatory under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).

As a fuel with lower emissions than fuel oil and marine diesel oil, the use of gas as fuel, particularly liquefied natural gas (LNG), has increased in recent years. But gas as fuel poses its own set of safety challenges, which need to be properly managed.

The IGF Code aims to minimize the risk to the ship, its crew and the environment, having regard to the nature of the fuels involved.

The proposed draft amendments to SOLAS chapter II-1 (Construction – Structure, subdivision and stability, machinery and electrical installations), include amendments to Part F Alternative design and arrangements, to provide a methodology for alternative design and arrangements for machinery, electrical installations and low-flashpoint fuel storage and distribution systems; and a new Part G Ships using low-flashpoint fuels, to add new regulations to require ships constructed after the date of entry into force to comply with the requirements of the IGF Code, together with related amendments to chapter II-2 and Appendix (Certificates).

The IGF Code will provide mandatory provisions for the arrangement, installation, control and monitoring of machinery, equipment and systems using low-flashpoint fuels, focusing initially on LNG.

The Code addresses all areas that need special consideration for the usage of low-flashpoint fuels, taking a goal-based approach, with goals and functional requirements specified for each section forming the basis for the design, construction and operation of ships using this type of fuel.

The MSC will also be invited to adopt related amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), and STCW Code, to include new mandatory minimum requirements for the training and qualifications of masters, officers, ratings and other personnel on ships subject to the IGF Code.
The MSC will also be invited to consider, for adoption:

•draft amendments to SOLAS regulations II-2/4.5 and II-2/11.6, clarifying the provisions related to the secondary means of venting cargo tanks in order to ensure adequate safety against over- and under-pressure in the event of a cargo tank isolation valve being damaged or inadvertently closed, and SOLAS regulation II-2/20 relating to performance of ventilation systems.

•draft amendments to the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code, to improve the requirements relating to the provisions for concentrates or other cargoes which may liquefy; amendments to provisions for specially constructed cargo ships for confining cargo shift; the addition of new individual schedules such as iron ore fines, among others, and amendments to a number of existing ones, including a revised schedule for iron ore.

A statement issued by IMO said the MSC will consider a number of submissions relating to cyber security, including a proposal to develop voluntary guidelines on cyber security practices to protect and enhance the resiliency of cyber systems supporting the operations of ports, vessels, marine facilities and other elements of the maritime transportation system.

Explaining further, the statement said : “The MSC will review statistics on reported incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships and consider related submissions, including a proposal to review the boundaries of the “High Risk Area”, as outlined in the Best Management Practices (BMP) for Protection against Somalia Based Piracy (for the purpose of BMP, the High Risk Area is set as “an area bounded by Suez and the Strait of Hormuz to the North, 10°S and 78°E”).
“The MSC is expected to continue its ongoing work related to passenger ship safety and update its long-term action plan.

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