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Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment (DE) – 56th session, 13 -17 February 2012

February 17, 2012

New SOLAS regulation III/17-1 on recovery of persons from the water agreed by Sub-Committee
New draft SOLAS requirements for the recovery of persons from the water on all ships, as well as related Guidelines for development of plans and procedures for recovery of persons from the water, were agreed by the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment (DE) when it met for its 56th session.
The draft new SOLAS regulation III/17-1, to be submitted to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) in May for approval, would require all ships to be provided with plans and procedures to recover persons from the water, taking into account the Guidelines.
The Sub-Committee also agreed a draft MSC resolution on Implementation of SOLAS regulation III/17-1 to ships other than those engaged in international voyages, aimed at encouraging the implementation of such plans and procedures on non-SOLAS ships.
The development of the draft new regulation and guidelines stemmed from the Organization’s comprehensive work on large passenger ship safety and is aimed at ensuring all ships have the capability to effectively serve as a rescue asset and have the right equipment to be able to rescue persons from the water and from survival craft. 
This new requirement will enhance safety at sea and also provide support to search and rescue coordinators in all types of rescue operations and, particularly, in those situations where there is insufficient dedicated search and rescue capacity or access to helicopters and specialized rescue craft is limited. 
Draft Revised Code on Noise Levels on Board ships agreed
The draft revised Code on noise levels on board ships was agreed by the Sub-Committee, for submission to the MSC for approval.
The Code, which sets out mandatory noise level limits for machinery spaces, control rooms, workshops, accommodation and other spaces on board ships,  updates and revises the previous version published in 1973 (resolution A.468(XII)).
A related draft new SOLAS regulation II-1/3 12 was also agreed, to require new ships to be constructed to reduce onboard noise and to protect personnel from the noise, in accordance with the Code.
Mandatory code for ships operating in polar waters further developed
The Sub-Committee continued its work on the development of a mandatory Code for ships operating in polar waters (Polar Code), which is intended to cover the full range of shipping-related matters relevant to navigation in waters surrounding the two poles – ship design, construction and equipment; operational and training concerns; search and rescue; and, equally important, the protection of the unique environment and eco-systems of the polar regions.
A working group during the session further developed the technical parts of the draft Code and the Sub-Committee agreed with the group’s recommendation to forward relevant sections to the Sub-Committees on Radiocommunications, Search and Rescue (COMSAR); Fire Protection (FP); Safety of Navigation (NAV); Stability, Load Lines and Fishing Vessel Safety (SLF); and Training and Watchkeeping (STW) for their review and input.
In relation to environmental aspects of the Code, the Sub-Committee noted that the working group had been divided as to whether the environmental protection provisions should be elaborated as a part of the Code, or as amendments to the relevant annexes of MARPOL and other appropriate IMO instruments, and decided to keep any decision on environmental requirements to be included in the Code in abeyance pending further consideration by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC).
The Correspondence Group on Development of a Mandatory Polar Code was re-established to continue the work, taking into account the outcome of other bodies meeting in the interim.
The Sub-committee agreed to urge the MEPC and the MSC to prioritize the discussion on how to make the Polar Code mandatory at their forthcoming meetings.
Revised guidelines on effluent standards for sewage treatment plants agreed
The Sub-Committee agreed draft 2012 Guidelines on implementation of effluent standards and performance tests for sewage treatment plants to update and revise the 2006 version (resolution MEPC.159(55)) and include new target limits for nitrogen and phosphorous removal standards, for submission to MEPC 64 for consideration.
The revised guidelines are intended to assist in the implementation of the 2011 amendments to MARPOL Annex IV Prevention of pollution by sewage from ships, which include the possibility of establishing “Special Areas” for the prevention of such pollution from passenger ships and designate the Baltic Sea as a Special Area under this Annex. The Annex IV amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2013,
Work on developing mandatory instrument to prevent accidents with lifeboats progressed
The Sub-Committee considered amalgamating requirements for periodic servicing and maintenance of lifeboats, launching appliances and on-load release gear, contained in MSC.1/Circ.1206/Rev.1 Measures to prevent accidents with lifeboats and MSC.1/Circ.1277 on Interim Recommendation on conditions for authorization of service providers for lifeboats, launching appliances and on-load release gear.
A correspondence group was established to work intersessionally to further develop a draft MSC resolution on Requirements for periodic servicing and maintenance of lifeboats, launching appliances and on-load release gear, based on MSC.1/Circ.1206/Rev.1 and MSC.1/Circ.1277, and to prepare associated draft amendments to SOLAS chapter III to make the MSC resolution mandatory.
There has been intensive work in the Sub-Committee over a number of years to address the problem of accidents with lifeboats, with the development and approval of relevant guidelines as well as the adoption of related amendments to SOLAS chapter III.
In May 2011, IMO adopted a new paragraph 5 of SOLAS regulation III/1 to require lifeboat on-load release mechanisms not complying with new International Life-Saving Appliances (LSA) Code to be replaced no later than the first scheduled dry-docking of the ship after 1 July 2014 but, in any case, not later than 1 July 2019.
The SOLAS amendment, which is expected to enter into force on 1 January 2013, is intended to establish new, stricter, safety standards for lifeboat release and retrieval systems, aimed at preventing accidents during lifeboat launching, and will require the assessment and possible replacement of a large number of lifeboat release hooks.
Road map for SOLAS chapter III revision agreed
The Sub-Committee agreed a road map for the review of SOLAS chapter III on life-saving appliances and arrangements, with a view to completing a comprehensive review of the chapter and developing draft amendments to SOLAS chapter III and LSA Code.
Firstly, the Sub-Committee intends to develop draft goal-based guidelines on a framework of requirements for ships' life-saving appliances, so that the revised SOLAS chapter III and the LSA Code can be developed, based on a goal-based approach, consisting of the development of Tier I – Goals;Tier II – Functional requirements; and Tier III – Verification of conformity.
Unified interpretation concerning the lifeboat exterior colour agreed
The Sub-Committee agreed a draft unified interpretation concerning lifeboat exterior colour, to clarify that a  "Highly visible colour", as required by the LSA code,  only includes colours of strong chromatic content, i.e. pure achromatic colours such as white and all shades of grey should not be accepted as "comparable" colours.
This is applicable to the exterior of rigid watertight enclosure of totally enclosed lifeboats and the exterior of the canopy of partially enclosed lifeboats.
Need for guidance on application of regulations for OWFCV and OWFSC agreed
The Sub-Committee agreed to consider the application of existing IMO instruments to offshore wind farm vessels (i.e. offshore wind farm construction vessels (OWFCV) and offshore wind farm service craft (OWFSC)) and to further clarify the application of relevant requirements concerning industrial personnel transported by sea.
Revision of shipboard incinerator standards continues
The Sub-Committee progressed its work on developing revisions to the Standard Specification for Shipboard Incinerators (resolution MEPC.76(40)), and agreed to continue the work at the next session.
Correspondence group established to look at reducing noise for marine life
The Sub-Committee considered a proposed framework concerning the development of non mandatory, technical guidelines to minimize underwater noise that might impact on marine life and agreed to move forward with developing guidance on the matter.
A correspondence group was established to develop non-mandatory draft guidelines for reducing underwater noise from commercial ships, giving special consideration to prioritise areas that should be assessed for potential underwater noise reduction (propulsion, hull design, onboard machinery and operational modifications),  and to examine the available options for ship-quieting technologies and operational practices.