IMO to adopt new code for gas-fuelled ships

The International Maritime Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), which meets at the IMO’s London headquarters for its 95th session from 3 to 12 June 2015, is expected to adopt a new mandatory code for gas-fuelled ships.

The adoption will include 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).

The move comes as use of gas becomes ever more frequent, resulting in the need to address safety challenges arising from using gas as fuel.

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

With respect to cyber security, MSC will consider a number of submissions, 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.

In addition, the Committee 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 Committee’s agenda will include work on passenger ship safety, unsafe mixed migration by sea and ship routeing measures.

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