To remind, in an effort to perform safe STS operations, IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) adopted resolution MEPC.186(59) and a new chapter 8 was added to The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships - MARPOL Annex I, describing regulatory requirements that should be adhered to at all times when undertaking STS operations.

Each vessel involved in STS Operations should have on board an STS plan approved by its Flag Administration prescribing how to perform safe STS operations.

The STS Operations plan must be written in the working language understood by the ship’s officers and be incorporated into the existing on-board Safety Management System (SMS).

According to the Club, before committing to an STS transfer operations a thorough risk assessment must be carried out covering all aspects of the operation, identifying potential risks and the means by which these risks are to be managed.

STS Operations must be thoroughly risk assessed for each of the following phases:

  • Pre-contract, inclusive of a vessel compatibility study
  • Pre-arrival of vessels
  • Approach of the two vessels and the mooring operation, including any transfer of equipmentb such as fenders and cargo hoses
  • Commencement of cargo operations
  • Completion of cargo operations
  • Unmooring of two vessels.

As noted, the Club has experienced a number of incidents arising during STS operations, where a thorough and robust risk assessment for each phase of the operation, may have reduced the potential for a claim.

Good, reliable communications in the common language between all concern parties is the key for safe and successful STS operations. Companies should ensure that, from start to finish of STS operations, all essential personnel are provided with a reliable means of communication such as an explosion-proof type or intrinsically safe handheld radios.

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