Summary of the 8th Session of the IMO Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment

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The IMO Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE), held its 8th session virtually from 28 February to 4 March 2022. Ms. Brandi Baldwin, Head of the Rescue and Fire Safety Division of the Coast Guard at the Office of Design and Engineering Standards, led the U.S. delegation, consisting of Coast Guard members and technical advisors from government and private sectors.

The main topics discussed during SSE 8 were:

  • New requirements for survival craft ventilation
  • Guidelines on Life-Saving Appliances and Arrangements for Ships Operating in Polar Waters
  • Requirements for on-board lifting appliances and anchor handling winches
  • Review of SOLAS Chapter II-2 and associated codes to minimize the impact and consequences of fires on ro-ro spaces and special category spaces of new and existing ro-ro passenger ships
  • Amendments to Guidelines for the approval of fixed dry chemical powder fire extinguishing systems for the protection of ships carrying liquefied gases in bulk (MSC.1/Circ.1315)
  • Development of amendments to chapter II-2 of SOLAS and the FSS Code concerning the detection and control of fires in cargo holds and on the cargo deck of container ships
  • Development of provisions to prohibit the use of fire fighting foams containing perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) for fire fighting on board ships
  • Revision of the Diving Systems Safety Code (resolution A.831(19)) and the Guidelines and Specifications for Hyperbaric Escape Systems (resolution A.692(17))
  • Review of the 2014 Standard Specification for Shipboard Incinerators (Resolution MEPC.244(66)) on fire protection requirements for incinerators and waste storage spaces

New requirements for survival craft ventilation

The sub-committee approved draft amendments to the LSA Code regarding ventilation requirements for totally enclosed lifeboats (TELB), partially enclosed lifeboats (PELB) and liferafts. The sub-committee also approved the draft amendments to the Revised recommendation on the testing of life-saving appliances (resolution MSC.81(70)). These amendments are expected to be approved and adopted by the Maritime Safety Committee and will come into force on January 1, 2026 and would apply to TELBs, PELBs and liferafts installed on or after January 1, 2029. Work on draft consequential amendments to lifeboats test forms (MSC.1/Circ.163) along with other appropriate forms will continue in an intersessional correspondence group.

Consecutive work related to the Code for ships operating in polar waters

The subcommittee approved the amendments to the Interim Guidelines on Life-Saving Appliances and Arrangements for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (MSC.1/Circ.1614). The updates include provisions for a methodology for estimating expected time for rescue in polar regions.

On-board hoists and anchor handling winches

The sub-committee agreed to draft guidelines for anchor handling winches and the associated draft MSC circular with a view to submitting them to the Maritime Safety Committee for approval together with the adoption of the draft amendments associated with SOLAS regulation II-1/3-13. . The Sub-Committee also agreed to draft guidelines for lifting appliances and the associated draft MSC circular with a view to submitting them to the Maritime Safety Committee for endorsement together with the adoption of the associated draft amendments to SOLAS regulation II-1/3-13. These amendments aim to prevent accidents and accidents related to lifting devices and winches and are expected to be adopted by the Maritime Safety Committee at its 106and session and will enter into force in 2026.

Work to minimize the incidence and consequences of fires on ro-ro passenger ships

The Fire Protection Working Group continued to review SOLAS Chapter II-2 and associated codes with the aim of minimizing the impact and consequences of fires on ro-ro spaces and special category spaces of new and existing ro-ro passenger ships. The sub-committee agreed to draft amendments for new ships, including requirements for water monitors for exposed decks, placement of combined heat and smoke detectors, and visual and audible fire signals. ESS 8 established an intersessional correspondence group to further consider draft amendments to the mandatory instruments under this agenda item.

Fixed dry chemical fire extinguishing systems on gas carriers, (MSC.1/Circ.1315)

The Sub-Committee approved the Draft Revised Guidelines for the Approval of Fixed Dry Chemical Powder Fire Extinguishing Systems for the Protection of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk and the associated Draft MSC Circular. The circular is expected to be approved by the Maritime Safety Committee at its 106and session.

Detection and control of fires in cargo holds and on the cargo deck of container ships

The Sub-Committee agreed to recommend that the Maritime Safety Committee convene a formal Safety Assessment Panel (FSA) to consider an FSA regarding the detection and control of fires in cargo holds and on container ship loading deck. This FSA must be conducted by EMSA.

Prohibit the use of fire-fighting foams containing perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS)

The sub-committee agreed to draft amendments to SOLAS II-2 and the 1994 and 2000 HSC Codes which prohibit the use of fire fighting foams containing PFOS. These amendments are expected to be adopted by the Maritime Safety Committee at its 106and session and will enter into force in 2026.

Diving Code Revisions

The sub-committee agreed to continue its work in order to finalize the draft revisions of the Diving System Safety Code (resolution A.831(19) and the Guidelines and Specifications for Hyperbaric Escape Systems (resolution A.692(17)) via the correspondence group.

On-board incinerators

The subcommittee agreed to draft amendments to the 2014 Standard Specification for Shipboard Incinerators (Resolution MEPC.244(66)). The changes should be approved by the Maritime Environmental Protection Committee at its next session.

Established match groups

The following correspondence groups were created during this session:

  • The Life-Saving Appliance Correspondence Group will continue work on new lifeboat ventilation requirements, revisions to SOLAS Chapter III and the LSA Code, and changes to address performance in the water from SOLAS life jackets.
  • The Fire Protection Correspondence Group will continue to work on revisions to SOLAS II-2 and associated codes to minimize the impact and consequences of fires on new and existing ro-ro passenger ships, as well as on amendments to SOLAS II-2 and MSC.1/Circ. 1456 dealing with the protection against fire of checkpoints on cargo ships.
  • The Diving Code Correspondence Group will advance work on the Safety Code Review for Diving Systems.

Contact us at [email protected] if you would like to participate in discussions on any of the above topics.

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