The SOLAS Convention (Safety of life at sea) International Convention for the safety of life at sea, 1974 is considered the most important of all international treaties relating to the safety of merchant ships. This will have amendments in 2024, we share the breakdown thanks to MaritimeCyprus.
On January 1, 2024, a set of amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and associated Codes will enter into force. This article highlights the changes that have been adopted for the 2024 update of SOLAS and its associated Codes.
Amendments to technical provisions typically follow a four-year cycle from their entry into force. This news item highlights amendments related to:
- Safe mooring operations
- Modernization of the GMDSS
- Watertight integrity
- Watertight doors on cargo ships
- Fault isolation of fire detection systems
- life-saving devices
- Safety of ships using LNG as fuel
Safe mooring operations
The new SOLAS requirements are intended to improve mooring safety by introducing additional requirements for the selection, disposal, inspection, maintenance and replacement of mooring equipment, including lines. Documentation related to the design of mooring arrangements and the selection of mooring equipment shall be provided and maintained on board.
The new requirements are incorporated in SOLAS Regulation II-1/3-8 on towing and mooring equipment, and supported by the following guidelines:
- Guidelines on the design of mooring arrangements and the selection of appropriate mooring equipment and accessories for safe mooring” (MSC.1/Circ. 1619)
- “Guidelines for the inspection and maintenance of mooring equipment, including lines” (MSC.1/Circ.1620)
- “Revised guidance on shipboard mooring and towing equipment” (MSC.1/Circ. 1175/Rev.1)
The design requirements will apply to new cargo and passenger ships built on or after 1 January 2024 that exceed 3,000 GT, and should also apply to ships 3,000 GT and below to the extent reasonably possible. The maintenance and inspection requirements will apply retroactively to all ships.
Modernization of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System
The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) requirements have been modernized to contain more generic requirements, independent of specific service providers, and to remove transport requirements for obsolete systems. In addition, the requirements for communication equipment have been moved from SOLAS Chapter III on life-saving appliances to Chapter IV on radio communications. The definitions of maritime areas A1 to A4 have been modified to reflect that the geographic area of coverage may vary between various satellite service providers.
Since the IMO adopted the global system for emergency information communication in 1988, Inmarsat has been the only approved provider of satellite communication services for the GMDSS. In 2018, the IMO also recognized Iridium as a provider of such services, and the 2020 SOLAS update replaced the provider-specific terms with the more generic “recognized mobile-satellite service”.
Corresponding amendments have been made to the 1994 and 2000 High Speed Craft (HSC) Codes, the Special Purpose Ship (SPS) Code and the Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU) Code.
The changes will take effect on January 1, 2024. Existing SOLAS certificates do not need to be reissued before they expire as a result of the reorganization of SOLAS Chapters III and IV.
Watertight integrity (impermeability)
Amendments to SOLAS Chapter II-1 will ensure that the watertight integrity requirements in parts B-2 through B-4 capture the probabilistic damage stability approach in parts B and B-1. The amendments address, among other things, assumptions regarding progressive flooding, valves in the collision bulkhead, and consideration of watertight doors.
The amendments are the result of experience with the revised SOLAS Chapter II-1 after the probabilistic damage stability approach was introduced in the 2009 SOLAS update. The approach assesses a ship’s probability of survival in the event of damage, relative to the extent and location of the damage. The probabilistic approach is considered to provide a more realistic representation of the state of a ship.
Several adjustments have been made to SOLAS Chapter III and the associated Life-Saving Appliances (LSA) Code:
- The launching device for new rescue boats less than 700 kg does not need to have stored mechanical energy, but it must be possible to operate it by one person.
- Free-fall lifeboats will not need to be tested with the boat moving at speeds up to 5 knots in still water, as there are no additional dynamic loads on the launch devices.
- Lifeboats equipped with two independent propulsion systems do not need to be equipped with floating oars.
The amendments will apply to cargo and passenger ships and will come into force on January 1, 2024. Flag states are encouraged to voluntarily implement launch test provisions for free-fall lifeboats earlier.
Ships using LNG as fuel
The International Code for the Safety of Ships Using Gases or Other Low-Flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code) was amended to reflect experiences gained since the code entered into force in 2017. The main amendments address:
- Cofferdams for fire protection purposes (Chapter 6.7)
- Safe fuel distribution outside machinery spaces (Chapter 9)
- Fire protection between spaces with fuel containment systems (Chapter 11)
- Fixed fire-extinguishing systems in LNG fuel preparation spaces (Chapter 11)
- The modifications will apply to new ships that use natural gas as fuel and will enter into force on January 1, 2024.
The 105th session of the IMO Maritime Safety Committee in April 2022 was the last session to adopt amendments to the 2024 update of SOLAS and related mandatory codes. Amendments adopted less than 18 months before January 1, 2024, would normally be delayed until the next four-year cycle of entry into force.
However, the IMO has recognized that the COVID-19 situation has caused delays in some ongoing work and has therefore introduced a mid-term cycle of ad hoc amendments. Therefore, the next SOLAS update will come into force on January 1, 2026, and will include the modifications adopted before July 1, 2024.
Fuente: Maritime Cyprus