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Recap of the 8th Session of the IMO Subcommittee on Ship Systems and Equipment

Draft revised guidelines approved for fixed dry chemical powder fire-extinguishing systems for the protection of ships carrying liquefied gases.

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

Key topics discussed at SSE 8 were:

  • New requirements for the ventilation of survival craft
  • Guidelines on life-saving appliances and arrangements for ships operating in polar waters
  • Requirements for onboard lifting appliances and anchor handling winches
  • Review of SOLAS chapter II-2 and associated codes to minimize the incidence 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 SOLAS chapter II-2 and the FSS Code concerning detection and control of fires in cargo holds and on the cargo deck of containerships
  • 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 Code of safety for diving systems (resolution A.831(19)) and the Guidelines and specifications for hyperbaric evacuation 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 stowage spaces

New requirements for ventilation of survival craft

The sub-committee approved draft amendments to the LSA Code addressing ventilation requirements for totally enclosed lifeboats (TELB), partially enclosed lifeboats (PELB), and liferafts. The sub-committee also approved draft amendments to the Revised recommendation on 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 enter into force on 1 January 2026 and would be applied to TELBs, PELBs and liferafts installed on or after 1 January 2029. Work on consequential draft amendments to survival craft test forms (MSC.1/Circ.163) as well as other appropriate forms will continue in an intersessional correspondence group.

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

The sub-committee approved amendments to the Interim guidelines on life-saving appliances and arrangements for ships operating in polar waters (MSC.1/Circ.1614). Updates include provisions for a methodology for estimating the expected time to rescue in polar regions.

Onboard lifting appliances 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 submission to the Maritime Safety Committee for approval in conjunction with the adoption of the associated draft amendments to SOLAS regulation II-1/3-13. The sub-committee also agreed to draft guidelines for lifting appliances and associated draft MSC circular with a view to submission to the Maritime Safety Committee for approval in conjunction with the adoption of the associated draft amendments to SOLAS regulation II-1/3-13.  These amendments aim to prevent accidents and casualties associated with lifting appliances and winches and are expected to be adopted by the Maritime Safety Committee at its 106th session, and enter into force in 2026.

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

The working group on fire protection continued reviewing SOLAS chapter II-2 and associated codes with an aim to minimize the incidence 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 pertaining to water monitors for weather decks, positioning of combined heat and smoke detectors, and visual and audible fire signals. SSE 8 established an intersessional correspondence group to further consider draft amendments to mandatory instruments under this agenda item.

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

The sub-committee approved 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 106th session.

Detection and control of fires in cargo holds and on the cargo deck of containerships

The sub-committee agreed to recommend the Maritime Safety Committee convene a formal safety assessment (FSA) experts group to consider a FSA regarding the detection and control of fires in cargo holds and on the cargo deck of containerships. This FSA is to be conducted by EMSA.

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

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

Dive Code revisions

The sub-committee agreed to continue work to finalize draft revisions to the Code of safety for diving systems (resolution A.831(19) and the Guidelines and specifications for hyperbaric evacuation systems (resolution A.692(17)) via correspondence group.

Shipboard incinerators

The sub-committee agreed to draft amendments to the 2014 Standard specification for shipboard incinerators (Resolution MEPC.244(66)). The amendments are expected to be approved by the Maritime Environment Protection Committee at its next session.

Correspondence Groups established

The following correspondence groups were established at this session:

  • The Life-Saving Appliances Correspondence Group will continue work on new requirements for ventilation of survival craft, revisions to SOLAS chapter III and the LSA Code, and amendments to address in-water performance of SOLAS lifejackets.
  • The Fire Protection Correspondence Group will continue work on revisions to SOLAS II-2 and associated codes to minimize the incidence and consequences of fire on new and existing ro-ro passenger ships, and amendments to SOLAS II-2 and MSC.1/Circ. 1456 addressing fire protection of control stations on cargo ships.
  • The Dive Code Correspondence Group will progress the work on the Revision of the Code of Safety for Diving Systems.

Contact us at imo@uscg.mil if you are interested in participating in discussions of any of the above topics.

Read more at USCG

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