BIMCO encourages proposals to stop injuries caused by free fall boats


New regulations for lifting appliances and lifesaving appliances are approaching. BIMCO co-sponsors a paper to stop accidents caused by free fall lifeboats during drills.

BIMCO will attend the 4th session of the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE 4) held from 20 to 24 March 2017 in London. 

The governing body of the IMO Sub-Committee SEE is the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC). SEE considers technical and operational matters about: 

  • Systems and equipment 
  • including machinery and electrical installations 
  • life-saving appliances 
  • appliances and arrangements and 
  • fire protection systems. 

The agenda for SSE 4 includes the following important items:

Simulated launching of free-fall lifeboats

IMO has, for some time, discussed requirements for lifeboats and rescue boats. 

MSC 96 (May 2016) adopted requirements (MSC.402(96)) for maintenance, examination, operational testing, overhaul and repair of lifeboats and rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear, which makes the provisions of MSC.1/Circ.1206/Rev.1 mandatory. The SOLAS amendments and resolution will enter into force by 1 January 2020.

Following on from this, SSE 4 will review the draft MSC circular on guidelines concerning safety during abandon ship drills using free fall lifeboats. In addition to the Guidelines for developing operation and maintenance manuals for lifeboat systems (MSC.1/Circ.1205). Among several papers, SSE 4 will consider a proposal by industry and flag states on guidelines for simulated launching of free fall lifeboats to stop accidents caused by free fall lifeboats during drills. The document is: 

  • SSE 4/4 - Making the provisions of MSC.1/Circ.1206/Rev.1 mandatory - The submission intends to clarify the definition of “simulated launching” as contained in the draft guidelines for simulated launching of free-fall lifeboats. This is a follow-up-paper on the IMO work, which started at MSC 97 and was followed up at the previous meeting (SSE 3, in 2016). 

Development of a new framework of requirements for life-saving appliances (LSA)

This work will be based on the Goal-Based Standards (GBS) framework.  Briefly described, GBS are high-level standards and procedures that are to be met through regulations, rules and standards for ships. GBS are comprised of goals (at least one), functional requirement(s) associated with the goal(s), and verification of conformity that rules/regulations meet the functional requirements, including goals.

The purpose of this work at SSE 4 is to transform the present LSA regulations into goals and functional requirements. Goal-Based Standards, have been used with other IMO regulations, and enable a more transparent understanding of the regulation requirements needed to therefore encourage innovation. Although this is early in the development, this work will form the basis for the next generation of LSA.

Requirements for onboard lifting appliances and winches

At MSC 97, the IMO agreed to amend chapters in the SOLAS concerning onboard lifting appliances such as cranes, loose gear and winches. 

Since SSE 3, 2016, a correspondence group has developed draft goals and functional requirements suitable for onboard lifting appliances and winches. They have also drafted guidelines supporting the goals and functional requirements. They will be used to cover the design, fabrication and construction for new installations; onboard procedures for routine inspection, maintenance and operation of onboard lifting appliances and winches; and familiarisation of ship's crew and shore-based personnel. 

At this session, SSE 4 will consider the work carried out by the correspondence group, several commenting papers as well as outlining a form/template for recording maintenance and periodical inspection. 

SSE 4 will also consider further proposals to amend SOLAS chapter II-1 and chapter XI-1, the training requirements for onboard crew and the design life requirements.

Unified Interpretations

All organisations have the possibility to ask IMO for unified interpretations. If agreed, IMO will send out a resolution, which clarifies matters arising from implementation of the IMO requirements. Interpretations are circulated to administrations in flag states, which may be incorporated into their legislation. As they are Unified interpretations (UI) of regulations, it is important to ensure that the UI are correct. 

SSE 4 will, at this session, consider a large number of UI, submitted by International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), eg on:

  • mechanical, hydraulic and electrical independency of steering gear control systems
  • clarification of SOLAS regulation relating to the means of escape from the steering gear space on cargo ships as set out in SOLAS regulation II-2/13.4.2
  • provisions relating to inert gas systems on tankers
  • the minimum width of external escape routes on cargo ships
  • the fire integrity of the bulkheads between the wheelhouse and the navigation lockers inside the wheelhouse
  • suitable means for the calibration of portable atmosphere testing instruments as referred to in SOLAS regulation II-1/
  • installation of manually operated call points (so-called MOCPs) on cargo ships
  • fire test requirements for damping materials for reducing noise and vibration level.

A brief report on the outcome of the meeting will be published shortly after the meeting.

Jeppe Skovbakke Juhl
in Copenhagen, DK


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