The 107th session of the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 107), 31 May to 9 June 2023, adopted new requirements in order to improve safety, including new mandatory requirements for lifting appliances and anchor handling winches, and new mandatory requirements for ventilation of totally enclosed lifeboats.
urthermore, a new Code of Safety for Diving Systems to enhance the safety of divers in fixed and portable diving systems was adopted. Interim guidelines for the safety of ships using LPG fuels were approved, as well as interim guidelines for the safe operation of onshore power supply services in ports. DNV provides an analysis of the key issues discussed as follows:
• Adopted new mandatory requirements for onboard lifting appliances and anchor handling winches
• Adopted SOLAS amendments to prohibit the use of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) in firefighting foams
• Adopted SOLAS amendments to mandate electronic inclinometers for containerships and bulk carriers
• Adopted mandatory navigation and voyage planning requirements for non-SOLAS ships operating in polar waters
• Adopted new mandatory requirements for ventilation of totally enclosed lifeboats
• Adopted STCW amendments to accommodate the use of electronic certificates and documents for seafarers
• Approved a new Code of Safety for Diving Systems, 2023
• Approved interim guidelines for the safety of ships using LPG fuels
• Approved interim guidelines for the safe operation of onshore power supply
• Approved draft amendments to extend the SOLAS requirements for emergency towing devices to all new ships over 20,000 GT
• Approved draft amendments SOLAS and related instruments to enhance the fire safety of ro-ro passenger ships
Onboard lifting appliances and anchor handling winches
The draft new SOLAS Regulation II-1/3-13 requires relevant onboard lifting appliances and anchor handling winches to be designed, constructed and installed in accordance with classification rules or equivalent rules accepted by the flag administration. Associated guidelines for lifting appliances and for anchor handling winches were approved.
Non-certified existing lifting appliances, installed prior to entry into force of the new regulation, are required to be tested and thoroughly examined no later than the date of the first renewal survey on or after 1 January 2026.
The new regulations will enter into force on 1 January 2026.
Electronic inclinometers for containerships and bulk carriers
MSC 107 adopted amendments to SOLAS Chapter V and the certificate forms to mandate electronic inclinometers for the measurement of heel angles for containerships and bulk carriers of 3,000 gross tonnage and upwards. The requirements are not applicable to cargo ships occasionally carrying cargo in bulk and general cargo ships carrying containers on deck.
The amendments will enter into force on 1 January 2026.
Ventilation of totally enclosed lifeboats
MSC 107 adopted amendments to the Life-Saving Appliances (LSA) Code to mandate ventilation of totally enclosed lifeboats. A ventilation rate of at least 5 cbm/hr/person should be provided to prevent high CO2 concentrations inside the lifeboat.
MSC 107 also approved consequential amendments to the:
- Revised recommendations on testing of lifesaving appliances” (MSC.81(70)), addressing testing with respect to the new ventilation requirements
- Revised standardized life-saving appliance evaluation and test report forms (survival craft) (MSC.1/Circ.1630/Rev.1)
- Requirements for maintenance, thorough examination and operational testing of LSA (Resolution MSC.402(96))
The LSA Code amendments will enter into force on 1 January 2026 and be applied to survival craft installed on or after 1 January 2029.
The International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code
MSC 107 adopted amendment 07-23 of the IMSBC Code. The draft amendments include:
- New individual cargo schedules for celestine concentrate, celestine, crushed granodiorite fines, ground granulated blast furnace slag powder, and magnesite fines
- Alignment of the stabilization requirements for fish meal with the IMDG Code, and classification as MHB (SH) instead of class 9
- Alignment of the IMSBC Code with SOLAS on the declaration of solid bulk density, and a new MSC circular on bringing the issue to the attention of stakeholders
The amendments to the IMSBC Code will enter into force on 1 January 2025.
Electronic certificates and documents for seafarers
MSC 107 adopted amendments to the STCW Convention and Code to accommodate the use of electronic certificates and documents for seafarers.
The amendments will enter into force on 1 January 2025.
Maritime autonomous surface ships (MASS)
MSC 107 progressed the development of the new MASS Code and agreed in principle that the code would apply to SOLAS cargo ships and high-speed craft, and be complimentary to SOLAS and other relevant IMO instruments.
MSC 107 further agreed that the code should contain a risk-analysis-based approach following the structure of MSC.1/Circ.1455 and should utilize suitable risk analysis methods.
A definition of “modes of operation” was agreed in principle to determine the conditions of the various functions that, together, safely operate a ship for its intended purpose, noting that the various functions may move between multiple modes of operation.
Interim guidelines for the safety of ships using LPG fuels
MSC 107 approved new interim guidelines for the safety of ships using LPG fuels. The interim guidelines are goal-based and intend to provide provisions for the arrangement, installation, control and monitoring of machinery, equipment and systems using LPG as fuel to minimize the risk to the ship, its crew and the environment.
IGF Code – Safety for Ships using Gases or other Low-flashpoint Fuels
MSC 107 approved draft amendments to the International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other Low-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code), based on experience with the code since its entry into force in 2017. The draft amendments are technical and editorial, and relate to:
- Definition of ships constructed on or after 1 January 2026
- Amendments to the provisions for bunkering manifolds and bunkering operations
- Clarification of the requirements related to the capacity of the fuel tank’s pressure relief valves
- Clarification of the requirements for control of tank pressure and temperature
- Clarification of the requirements for single fuel installations redundancy and propulsion capability
- Clarification of the requirements for the venting of segments upstream of gas consumers
- Clarification of the requirements to design pressure of the outer pipe or duct of fuel systems
- New requirements for portable dry powder extinguishers in the fuel preparation room
- Clarification of the hazardous area zone requirements
The draft amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2026, subject to adoption by MSC 108 (May 2024).
Loss of containers at sea
MSC 107 approved draft amendments to SOLAS Chapter V to mandate reporting of the loss of containers. Consequential draft amendments to the MARPOL Convention to avoid double reporting were agreed and will be submitted to MEPC.
Prohibition of asbestos in the MODU Code
Provisions in SOLAS Chapter II-1 have restricted the use of new materials containing asbestos since 2002 and have prohibited their use since 2011. Unified Interpretations and guidance to SOLAS Regulation II-1/3-5 are available in MSC circulars. The 2009 MODU Code has prohibited the use of asbestos on new units from 2012, but no provisions in the 1979, 1989 or 2009 MODU Codes restrict new installations which contain asbestos on existing units, and no guidance has been available.
MSC 107 approved draft amendments to the MODU Codes to implement the wording and guidance for an asbestos ban on new installations on existing units in the non-mandatory MODU Code in alignment with that contained in SOLAS.
The amendments will be effective on 1 January 2024.
Emergency towing equipment
MSC 107 approved draft amendments to SOLAS II-1/3-4 to extend the SOLAS requirements for emergency towing devices to all new ships over 20,000 gross tonnage to facilitate emergency assistance and towing operations, and thereby reduce the risk of ship wreckage and pollution.
It was further agreed that the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment should develop a new set of guidelines for emergency towing arrangements on new ships other than tankers.
The draft amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2028, subject to adoption by MSC.
New Code of Safety for Diving Systems
MSC 107 adopted a new International Code of Safety for Diving Operations, 2023 (2023 Diving Code), noting that the 1995 Diving Code will continue to apply for existing diving systems.
The significant updates include:
- Provisions for portable diving systems and surface supplied diving systems
- Provisions for ships with diving systems installed
- Provisions for integration between the diving systems and the ships carrying them, including integration of the ships’ ISM system with the diving contractors’ safety management system
- Measures to ensure evacuation of divers all the way to a place of safety
The 2023 Diving Code will be effective on 1 January 2024