SOLAS, SAR amendments enter into force: bulk carriers, persons rescued at sea
Amendments to the
International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International
Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) enter into force on 1 July 2006,
including amendments relating to bulk carrier safety and persons in distress
to SOLAS (adopted in December 2004) replace chapter XII - Additional safety
measures for bulk carriers with a revised text, incorporating revisions
to some regulations and new requirements relating to bulk carriers of double-side
The amendments include new requirements for bulk carriers of double-side skin
construction as an optional alternative to single-side skin construction; additional
maintenance requirements; and a new regulation 14 on restrictions from sailing
with any hold empty. The option of double-side skin construction will apply
to new bulk carriers of 150 m in length and over, designed to carry solid bulk
cargoes having a density of 1,000 kg/m3 and above.
(adopted in December 2004) to SOLAS regulation III/31 - Survival craft and rescue
boats, make mandatory the carriage of free-fall lifeboats on bulk carriers.
(adopted in May 2004) to SOLAS regulation III/32 - Personal life-saving appliances,
make changes to the number of immersion suits to be carried on cargo ships and
introduce carriage requirements for one immersion suit per person on board all
cargo ships, including bulk carriers. Consequential amendments to the 1988 SOLAS
Protocol, relating to the records of equipment, also enter into force.
Persons in distress
to the SOLAS and SAR Conventions, adopted in May 2004, concern the treatment
of persons rescued at sea. The amendments were developed in response to resolution
A.920 on Review of safety measures and procedures for the treatment of persons
rescued at sea, adopted by IMO's 22nd Assembly in 2001, following a number of
incidents that highlighted concerns surrounding the treatment of persons rescued
at sea, including undocumented migrants, asylum seekers and refugees and stowaways.
The resolution requested IMO to review all IMO instruments so that any existing
gaps, inconsistencies, ambiguities, vagueness or other inadequacies could be
identified and any action needed could be taken.
concern with respect to such incidents was that, unless the matter was considered
in all its aspects and appropriate action was taken, there might be a negative
impact on the integrity of the global search and rescue system which IMO has
put in place.
to SOLAS chapter V - Safety of Navigation, adding a definition of search
and rescue services. They add to and clarify the existing longstanding obligation
to provide assistance, adding the words: "This obligation to provide
assistance applies regardless of the nationality or status of such persons
or the circumstances in which they are found." The amendments mandate
co-ordination and co-operation between States to assist the ship's master
in delivering persons rescued at sea to a place of safety and add a new
regulation on the master's discretion, which states that "the owner,
the charterer, the company operating the ship
, or any other person
shall not prevent or restrict the master of the ship from taking or executing
any decision which, in the master's professional judgement, is necessary
for safety of life at sea and protection of the marine environment."
to the Annex to the SAR Convention, adding a new paragraph in chapter 2
Organization and co-ordination, relating to the definition of persons in
distress; new paragraphs in chapter 3 - Co-operation between States, relating
to assistance to the master in delivering persons rescued at sea to a place
of safety; and a new paragraph in chapter 4 - Operating procedures, relating
to rescue co-ordination centres initiating the process of identifying the
most appropriate places for disembarking persons found in distress at sea.
on the treatment of persons rescued at sea, adopted in May 2004, aim to provide
guidance with regard to humanitarian obligations and obligations under the relevant
amendments (adopted in May 2004) to SOLAS chapter III - Life-saving appliances
and arrangements are intended to help prevent accidents with lifeboats during
drills. They stemmed from work by the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment
(DE) intended to address the unacceptably high number of accidents with lifeboats
in which crew have been injured, sometimes fatally, while participating in lifeboat
drills and/or inspections. The amendments to SOLAS regulations III/19 - Emergency
training and drills and III/20 Operational readiness, maintenance and inspections
concern the conditions in which lifeboat emergency training and drills should
be conducted and introduce changes to the operational requirements for maintenance,
weekly and monthly inspections so as not to require any persons to be on board,
and servicing of launching appliances and on-load release gear.
recorders and simplified voyage data recorders on cargo ships
amendments (adopted in December 2004) to SOLAS regulation V/20 - Voyage data
recorders, give a phased-in carriage requirement for a voyage data recorder
(VDR) on cargo ships built before 1 July 2002, allowing for these ships to be
fitted with a simplified voyage data recorder (S-VDR).
regulation already required passenger ships, and ships other than passenger
ships of 3,000 gross tonnage and upwards, constructed on or after 1 July 2002,
to carry VDRs to assist in accident investigations. The amendment adds a new
paragraph to require a VDR, which may be an S-VDR, to be fitted on cargo ships
the case of cargo ships of 20,000 gross tonnage and upwards constructed
before 1 July 2002, at the first scheduled dry-docking after 1 July 2006
but not later than 1 July 2009;
the case of cargo ships of 3,000 gross tonnage and upwards but less than
20,000 gross tonnage constructed before 1 July 2002, at the first scheduled
dry-docking after 1 July 2007 but not later than 1 July 2010.
may exempt cargo ships from the application of such requirements when such ships
will be taken permanently out of service within two years after the implementation
is not required to store the same level of detailed data as a standard VDR,
but, nonetheless, should retain, in a secure and retrievable form, information
concerning the position, movement, physical status, command and control of a
vessel. In accordance with the performance standards for S-VDRs, the time for
which all stored data items are retained should be at least 12 hours while data
items which are older than this may be overwritten with new data.
Other SOLAS amendments adopted in December 2004 which enter into force on
1 July 2006 include those:
to Chapter II-1, regulation 18 - Construction and initial tests of watertight
doors, sidescuttles, etc., in passenger ships and cargo ships to allow testing
of watertight doors by a prototype pressure test in certain circumstances.
Also to regulation 45 - Precautions against shock, fire and other hazards
of electrical origin to amend the existing paragraph 10 and to add a new
paragraph 11 which controls the installation of electrical equipment cables
and wiring in hazardous locations on tankers.
Chapter V, regulation 19 - Carriage requirements for shipborne navigational
systems and equipment to add the words "being clearly readable by the
helmsman at the main steering position" in paragraph 2.5 relating to
the carriage of a gyro compass, or other means to determine and display
heading by shipborne non-magnetic means.
Chapter VII, regulation 10 - Requirements for chemical tankers to delete
the words "For the purpose of this regulation, the requirements of
the Code shall be treated as mandatory" as the revised IBC Code has
been developed in a mandatory format.
Chapter V - Safety of navigation, addition of simplified voyage data recorder
(S-VDR) to the Record of Equipment for the Cargo Ship Safety Equipment Certificate
24, 30 June 2006
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