Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE), 2nd session, 23-27 March 2015

SOLAS amendments on ventilation of closed vehicle, ro-ro and special category spaces finalized

Draft amendments to SOLAS regulation II-2/20 were finalized by the Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE), at its second session, for submission to the ninety-fifth session of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 95) for adoption. 

The draft amendments had been approved by MSC 94 but referred back to the Sub-Committee for finalization, before being submitted to MSC 95 for adoption. 

The draft amendments update paragraph to clarify the application of the relaxation in that paragraph to certain spaces.

The Sub-Committee also agreed to the draft Revised design guidelines and operational recommendations for ventilation systems in ro-ro cargo spaces, which should supersede the previous version, issued in 1996 as MSC/Circ.729.

Helicopter facility fire-fighting requirements agreed
New requirements for new ships with helicopter landing facilities to be provided with foam applications systems were agreed by the Sub-Committee, for submission to MSC 95 for approval and subsequent adoption. The draft amendment to SOLAS regulation II-2/18 adds a new paragraph 2.3 to require a foam application system complying with the provisions of a new chapter 17 of the Fire Safety Systems (FSS) Code, which was also agreed by the Sub-Committee.

A similar draft amendment to the Code for the construction and equipment of mobile offshore drilling units (MODU Code) was also agreed. 

The new draft chapter 17 of the FSS Code details the specifications for foam firefighting appliances for the protection of helicopter facilities, as required by SOLAS chapter II-2.

The requirements are given for helidecks and helicopter landing areas.  For a helideck (defined as a purpose-built helicopter landing platform or other deck area including all structure, firefighting appliances and other equipment necessary for the safe operation of helicopters), the foam system is required to contain at least two fixed foam monitors or deck integrated foam nozzles, operating at a specified minimum discharge rate. In addition, at least two hose reels fitted with a foam-making branch pipe and non-collapsible hose sufficient to reach any part of the helideck shall be provided.

For a helicopter landing area (an area on a ship designated for occasional or emergency landing of helicopter and not designed for routine helicopter operations), at least two portable foam applicators or two hose reel foam stations are to be provided, each capable of discharging a minimum foam solution discharge rate, according to the helicopter overall length.

The Sub-Committee also agreed a draft MSC circular on Early implementation of the new chapter 17 of the FSS Code, which encourages all Parties to implement the draft new chapter 17 of the FSS Code at the earliest possible opportunity.

Related draft amendments to update the amendments to the Recommendation on Helicopter landing areas on ro-ro passenger ships (MSC/Circ.895) were also agreed, to refer to the installation of a foam application system complying with the FSS Code provisions. 

Smoke management requirements agreed
The Sub-Committee finalized draft Performance standards, functional requirements and system requirements for the assessment of smoke management systems, for submission to MSC 95 for approval. The draft performance standards and requirements would apply to smoke management systems installed on new passenger ships. The systems should be designed so as to maintain sufficiently smoke free escape routes in case of fire.
Revised requirements for automatic sprinkler systems agreed
The Sub-Committee agreed draft amendments to the Revised guidelines for the maintenance and inspection of fire protection systems and appliances (to update MSC.1/Circ.1432), including a new provision for water quality testing for automatic sprinkler systems and new flow charts for the testing and replacement of sprinkler heads and water mist nozzles. The draft amendments will be forwarded to MSC 95 for approval. 

A related draft amendment to chapter 8 of the FSS Code was agreed, to add a new requirement for special attention to be paid to the specification of water quality provided by the system manufacturer, to prevent internal corrosion and clogging of sprinklers. 

Draft SOLAS amendment on additional fire-extinguishing arrangements in machinery spaces containing oil-fired boilers agreed
The Sub-Committee agreed draft amendments to SOLAS regulations II-2/1.2.9 and II-2/ relating to machinery spaces of category A containing only oil-fired boilers, for submission to MSC 96 with a view to approval and subsequent adoption. The draft amendment clarifies that  in  the case of boilers protected by fixed local water-based firefighting systems, an approved foam-type extinguisher of at least 135 l capacity is not required. 

Progress made on goal-based approach for SOLAS chapter II-2
The Sub-Committee furthered its work on developing a goal based approach to standards and in the development of a new framework of requirements for safety objectives and functional requirements for the approval of alternative design and arrangements for fire safety and life-saving appliances. 

The Sub-Committee further developed draft guidelines for the selection of life safety performance criteria, which are intended to provide a methodology for the selection of performance criteria used to address the survivability of persons on board when exposed to the effects of heat, smoke, toxicity and reduced visibility. The guidelines would be intended for use to establish minimum safety margins in the available time for safe escape from spaces approved with alternative design and arrangements.  

A correspondence group was established to: further develop the  life safety performance criteria for alternative design and arrangements for fire safety, taking into account the required level of safety for SOLAS chapter II-2 compliant prescriptive designs; consider the method for evaluating the Available Safe Egress Time (ASET), and choose an appropriate type of method to determine this time limit (e.g. using a proposed smoke layer height approach or a different method such as the time required to maintain tenability within the affected space); define the life safety performance criteria against which the ASET will be measured; and submit a report to SSE 3. 

Progress made on measures for onboard lifting appliances and winches
The Sub-Committee unanimously agreed that more robust guidelines for the safety of onboard lifting appliances and winches should be developed and, referring to the decision of MSC 89 that the Committee's approval should be sought before undertaking any technical work, invited MSC 95 to endorse the Sub-Committee's decision and decide on whether mandatory SOLAS requirements should be prepared in addition to the development of guidelines. The Sub-Committee also requested MSC 95 to consider the re-establishment of the Correspondence Group for Onboard Lifting Appliances and Winches, to progress the work intersessionally, with a view to reporting to SSE 3.

Maintenance and testing of lifeboats discussed
The Sub-Committee further discussed a proposed package of mandatory measures intended to address servicing and maintenance of lifeboats and rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear, in order to minimize the number of accidents involving lifeboats and rescue boats. 
The Sub-Committee agreed the title of a draft MSC resolution should be Requirements for maintenance, thorough examination, operational testing, overhaul and repair of lifeboats and rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear.  Discussions centred on the role of the authorized service provider and certified personnel. The Sub-Committee was unable to reach agreement on the proposal to allow "certified personnel" to carry out annual examinations and five-year operational tests. In this connection, the Sub-Committee agreed to request MSC 95 to give clear instructions on the issue.

Unified interpretations agreed
The Sub-Committee agreed unified interpretations, for submission to MSC 96 for approval, related to:

• application of materials other than steel on engine, turbine and gearbox installations in SOLAS regulation II-2/4;

• arrangements for fixed hydrocarbon gas detection systems in double-hull and double-bottom spaces of oil tankers, as detailed in SOLAS regulation II-2/;

• non-combustible material as "steel or equivalent" for ventilation ducts, as detailed in SOLAS regulation II-2/;

• application of provisions in SOLAS and the LSA Code relating to the general emergency alarms and public address systems (SOLAS regulations III/6.4 and III/6.5 and section 7.2 of the LSA Code);

• implementation of the requirements relating to lifeboat release and retrieval systems (paragraph of the LSA Code, as amended by resolution MSC.320(89));

• chapter 5 of the FSS Code, regarding the number of setting points to the discharge control for the fire extinguishing medium;

• chapter 6 of the FSS Code, relating to foam-generating capacity of fixed foam fire-extinguishing systems; and

• chapter 9 of the FSS Code, relating to the additional indicating unit of fixed fire detection and fire alarm systems in cargo control rooms.