(www.MaritimeCyprus.com) A set of amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the associated Codes are entering into force in 2024. This article highlights the changes that have been adopted for the 2024 update of SOLAS and its associated Codes.
Regulations coming into force on 1 January 2024
IMDG code amendments (41-22) – MSC.501(105)
Updates to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) code, which were applicable on a voluntary basis since 1 January 2023, will enter into force on 1 January 2024.
These amendments are in line with the updates to the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, 22nd edition, which set the recommendations for all transport modes.
Based on these amendments, the following revised circulars will also be applicable from 1 January 2024:
- Revised recommendations on the safe use of pesticides in ships applicable to the fumigation of cargo transport units (MSC.1/Circ.1361/Rev.1) and
- Revised Emergency Response Procedures for Ships carrying dangerous goods (EmS Guide) (MSC.1/Circ.1588/Rev.2).
Owners who are involved in the transport of dangerous goods in packaged from a recommended to ensure compliance with the latest amendments.
Amendments to SOLAS regulation II-1/3-8 on towing and mooring equipment – MSC.474(102)
The objective of these amendments is to improve mooring safety by establishing new requirements for the selection, arrangement, inspection, maintenance, and replacement of mooring equipment, including lines. Documentation pertaining to the design of mooring arrangements and the selection of mooring equipment will be required to be provided and retained on board.
These requirements are incorporated in SOLAS regulation II-1/3-8 on towing and mooring equipment, and are supported by the following guidelines:
- Guidelines on the design of mooring arrangements and the selection of appropriate mooring equipment and fittings for safe mooring (MSC.1/Circ. 1619)
- Guidelines for inspection and maintenance of mooring equipment including lines (MSC.1/Circ.1620)
- Revised guidance on shipboard towing and mooring equipment (MSC.1/Circ. 1175/Rev.1)
- Unified interpretation of SOLAS Chapter II-1 (MSC.1/Circ.1362/Rev.2)
The design requirements will apply to new cargo and passenger ships constructed on or after 1 January 2024 that are above 3000 GT and should also apply to ships of 3000 GT and below as far as reasonably practicable. However, the maintenance and inspection requirements will be applied retroactively for all ships.
Owners with new-built ships (i.e., building contract signed on or after 1 January 2024, or in the absence of a building contract if keel laid on or after 1 July 2024, or if the ship is delivered on or after 1 January 2027) are recommended to refer to the Class rules on design requirements and be guided accordingly.
Existing ships are recommended to refer to review their current procedures for the inspection and maintenance of mooring equipment and lines, to ensure that they are in line with the above-mentioned guidelines.
Amendments to SOLAS chapter II-1 parts B-2 and B-4 on watertight integrity – MSC.474(102)
These amendments align the design criteria for watertight integrity in parts B-2 to B-4 with the probabilistic damage stability approach in parts B and B-1 and will apply to new cargo and passenger ships constructed on or after 1 January 2024. It will not have any impact on existing ships.
Similarly, the requirement for watertight doors in MARPOL Annex I, the Loadline Convention, the IBC Code, and the IGC Code have been revised to align with the requirements in SOLAS.
The amendments to the Loadline Convention and the IBC Code will enter into force on 1 January 2024, and the amendments to MARPOL Annex I and the IGC Code will enter into force on 1 July 2024.
Amendments to SOLAS regulation II-1/25-1 on water level detectors on multiple hold cargo ships other than bulk carriers and tankers – MSC.482(103)
This new SOLAS regulation II-1/25-1 requires multiple hold cargo ships other than bulk carriers and tankers constructed on or after 1 January 2024 to be fitted with water level detectors in each cargo hold intended for dry cargoes. It harmonizes the requirements for bulk carriers and non-bulk carriers, and will not apply to tankers, liquid holds, and tanks entirely above the freeboard deck.
The water level detectors are required to be fitted in the aft end of the cargo holds and should be capable of giving audible and visual alarms at the navigation bridge when the water level reaches a height of 0.3m above the bottom of the cargo hold, and again when the water level reaches a height of 15% of the depth of the cargo hold. The visual alarms should be capable of discriminating between the two different water levels detected in each hold. For cargo holds which are occasionally used for water ballast, an alarm overriding device may be installed.
Consequently, the IMO Resolution MSC.188(79)/Rev.1 on “Revised Performance Standards for Water Level Detectors on Ships Subject to SOLAS Regulations II-1/25, II-1/25-1 and XII/12” will enter into force from 1 January 2024 to align with the new SOLAS requirements.
Owners with new-built cargo ships (i.e., building contract signed on or after 1 January 2024, or in the absence of a building contract if keel laid on or after 1 July 2024, or if the ship is delivered on or after 1 January 2028), except tankers and bulk carriers, are recommended to refer to the Class rules on design requirements and be guided accordingly.
Following amendments to the International Code for Fire Safety Systems (FSS Code) will enter into force from 1 January 2024:
- Amendments to Chapter 9 clarify that individually identifiable fixed fire detectors fitted in cargo ships and in passenger ship cabin balconies need not be provided with isolator modules at each fire detector if the system is arranged in such a way that the number and location of individually identifiable fire detectors rendered ineffective due to a fault would not be larger than an equivalent section in a section identifiable system.
- Amendments to Chapter 15 clarify that for ships that have inert gas systems, the location of the valve that isolates the inert gas main from the external supply of inert gas, and associated instrumentation requirements.
Several amendments have been made to SOLAS Chapter III and the associated Life-Saving Appliances (LSA) Code:
- Amendments to SOLAS regulation III/33 and the LSA Code, to remove the requirements to launch free-fall lifeboats with the ship making headway at speeds up to 5 knots in calm water on cargo ships of 20,000 GT and above.
- Amendment to LSA Code to remove the requirement of buoyant oars on lifeboats equipped with two independent propulsion systems.
- Amendments to LSA Code to allow manual handling mechanism for launching rescue boats on cargo ships where the rescue boat is not one of the ship’s survival craft and is less than 700kg in the fully equipped condition, with an engine, but without crew.
These amendments will apply to cargo and passenger ships and enter into force on 1 January 2024, but some Flag States may voluntarily apply the launch test provisions for free-fall lifeboats earlier.
Amendments to SOLAS II-1, III, IV, and V on modernization of GMDSS – MSC.496(105)
The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) requirements have been updated to enable the future use of modern communication systems whilst removing carriage requirements for obsolete systems. The definitions of the sea areas A1 to A4 have also been amended to reflect that the geographical area of coverage may vary between various satellite service providers.
These amendments affect SOLAS chapters II-1, III, IV, and V, and the appendix (Certificates) and the 1988 SOLAS Protocol (MSC.497(105)). The requirements for communication equipment have been moved from SOLAS Chapter III on life-saving appliances to Chapter IV on radio communications.
These requirements will apply to all ships of 300 GT and above. The existing SOLAS certificates do not have to be reissued before they expire because of the reorganization of SOLAS Chapters III and IV.
Consequential amendments have been made to the 1994 and 2000 High-Speed Craft (HSC) Codes, the Special Purpose Ships (SPS) Code, and the Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODU) Code.
Owners are recommended to refer to the IMO resolutions mentioned above and be guided accordingly.
These amendments are aimed at improving the application of the International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other Low-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code) by considering lessons learned so far.
Owners with ships constructed or converted to use gas as fuel on or after 1 January 2024 are recommended to refer to the Class rules on design requirements and be guided accordingly.
Amendments to SOLAS Chapter VII and IGC Code – MSC.476(102)
Amendments to the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (IGC Code) extend the cross-weld tensile strength to materials such as aluminium alloys.
These amendments will apply to ships that are subject to the IGC Code and use high-manganese steel in the construction of tanks carrying low-temperature cargo.
Revised FAL Convention – FAL.14(46)
Amendments to the Facilitation (FAL) Convention will make the single window for data exchange mandatory in ports worldwide, accelerating digitalization in shipping. The amendments also address lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and introduce measures to prevent corruption and illicit activities in the maritime sector.
Regulations coming into force on 1 May 2024
These amendments allow States with ports in the Arctic region to enter into regional arrangements for port reception facilities. Owners wishing to discharge oil, noxious liquid substances, sewage, garbage, or air pollution waste to port reception facilities would need to be aware that there may be regional arrangements in place and reception facilities may not be available at every port.
Amendments to MARPOL Annex V on Garbage Record Books for smaller ships – MEPC.360(79)
These amendments make the Garbage Record Book mandatory for ships of 100GT and above and less than 400GT. This extends the requirement for mandatory garbage record books to smaller ships, which will be required to keep records of their garbage handling operations, namely discharges to a reception facility ashore or to other ships, garbage incineration, permitted discharges of garbage into the sea, and accidental or other exceptional discharged or loss of garbage into the sea. This move supports the implementation of IMO's Strategy and Action Plan to address marine plastic litter from ships.
From 1 May 2024, Owners with ships of 100GT and above are recommended to take note of these requirements and maintain a Garbage Record Book onboard and record all discharges into the sea or port reception facilities or garbage incineration-related entries.
Amendments to MARPOL Annex VI, Regulation 14, and Appendix VII on Mediterranean Sea ECA – MEPC.361(79)
From 1 May 2024, the Mediterranean Sea will be designated as an Emission Control Area (ECA) for sulphur oxides (SOx) and particular matter (PM); however, these requirements will take effect from 1 May 2025 and then onwards it will be mandatory for ships to either use fuel oil with a sulphur content of 0.10% m/m or utilize an exhaust gas cleaning system (EGCS) while sailing through the Mediterranean Sea ECA.
Amendments to MARPOL Annex VI, Appendix V on fuel flashpoint to be included in BDN – MEPC.362(79)
These amendments require fuel suppliers to include the flashpoint of the fuel oil or a statement that the flashpoint has been measured at or above 70oC as mandatory information in the bunker delivery note (BDN).
From 1 May 2024, Owners are recommended to ensure that the BDNs provided by the fuel suppliers comply with the revised requirements.
Amendments to MARPOL Annex VI, Appendix IX on information to be submitted to IMO-DCS – MEPC.362(79)
These amendments are in line with the latest SEEMP Guidelines published under MEPC.346(78) and will require all ships of 5000GT and above, except those identified under MARPOL Regulation 19.2, to report EEXI, CII, and rating values to the IMO Ship Fuel Oil Consumption Database (IMO DCS).
Regulations coming into force on 1 July 2024
Amendments to MARPOL Annex I on HFO ban in Arctic waters – MEPC.329(76)
A new regulation 43A in Chapter 9 of MARPOL Annex I will introduce a ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in Arctic waters on and after 1 July 2024.
The prohibition will cover the use and carriage for use as fuel of oils having a density at 15°C higher than 900 kg/m3 or a kinematic viscosity at 50°C higher than 180 mm2/s. However, the carriage of heavy fuel oil as cargo is not prohibited.
The application will be to all ships, except for ships engaged in securing the safety of ships or in search and rescue operations, and ships dedicated to oil spill preparedness and response.
Owners with ships operating in and around the Arctic region are recommended to take note of these amendments. There are, however, exemptions for ships with fuel tanks protected by double hulls, and waivers for ships flying the flag of countries with a coastline bordering on Arctic, that will allow these ships to continue carry HFO for use until 1 July 2029.
A new SOLAS chapter XV and the associated new International Code of Safety for Ships Carrying Industrial Personnel (IP Code) is aimed to provide minimum safety standards for ships that carry industrial personnel, as well as for the personnel themselves, and address specific risks of maritime operations within the offshore and energy sectors, such as personnel transfer operations. Such personnel may be engaged in the construction, maintenance, decommissioning, operation, or servicing of offshore facilities, such as wind farms, as well as offshore oil and gas installations, aquaculture, ocean mining, or similar activities.
Owners with ships engaged in transport or accommodating industrial personnel will need to comply with the new IP Code. Such ships shall have onboard a valid Industrial Personnel Safety Certificate. Pending entry into force of the above-mentioned requirements, the Interim Recommendations on the Safe Carriage of more than 12 Industrial Personnel onboard Vessels Engaged on International Voyages as outlined under MSC.418(97) may be applied.
Amendments to the 2011 ESP Code – MSC.525(106)
Amendments to the International Code on the Enhanced Programme of Inspections during Surveys of Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers, 2011 (2011 ESP Code) are intended to align the requirements for inspections of void spaces bounding cargo holds with the existing requirements for inspections of water ballast tanks.
For ships that have undergone a major conversion into a bulk carrier or ships that were originally designed to be a bulk carrier and have been subjected to a major conversion, additional amendments would require such tanks and other spaces to be subject to annual examinations if the tank structure has been subjected to major conversion and where a hard protective coating is found to be in “less than GOOD” condition.
Owners with bulk carriers of single-side skin and double-side skin construction or oil tankers are recommended to refer to these amendments and be guided accordingly.