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Recap of the 9th session of the IMO sub-committee on ship systems and equipment

March 24, 2023

The IMO Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE), held its 9th session February 27- March 3, 2023 in London, England. Ms. Brandi Baldwin, Chief of the Coast Guard’s Lifesaving and Fire Safety Division in the Office of Design and Engineering Standards, led the U.S. delegation, comprised of members from the Coast Guard and technical advisors from government and private sectors. 

Key topics discussed at SSE 9 were:

  • New requirements for the ventilation of survival craft
  • Development of amendments to the LSA Code to revise the lowering speed of survival craft and rescue boats for cargo ships
  • Revision of SOLAS chapter III and the LSA Code
  • Review of SOLAS chapter II-2 and associated codes to minimize the incidence and consequences of fires on ro-ro spaces and special category spaces of new and existing ro-ro passenger ships
  • Development of amendments to the LSA Code for thermal performance of immersion suits
  • Development of amendments to the LSA Code and resolution MSC.81(70) to address the in-water performance of SOLAS lifejackets
  • Development of amendments to SOLAS chapter II-2 and the FSS Code concerning detection and control of fires in cargo holds and on the cargo deck of containerships
  • Development of amendments to SOLAS chapter II-2 and MSC.1/Circ.1456 addressing fire protection of control stations on cargo ships
  • Revision of the Code of Safety for Diving Systems (resolution A.831(19)) and the Guidelines and specifications for hyperbaric evacuation systems (resolution A.692(17))
  • Validated model training courses
  • Unified interpretation of provisions of IMO safety, security and environment-related conventions
  • Development of provisions to prohibit the use of fire-fighting foams containing perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) for fire-fighting on board ships
  • Amendments to the LSA Code concerning single fall and hook systems with on-load release capability

New requirements for ventilation of survival craft

The sub-committee agreed to finalize draft amendments for ventilation requirements for totally enclosed lifeboats which are expected to be adopted at MSC 107. This will facilitate a planned entry into force date of January 1, 2026. Regarding partially enclosed lifeboats and liferafts, the sub-committee agreed that more discussion on the compelling need for new ventilation requirements is necessary. The Sub-Committee intends to discuss this further during SSE 10.

Development of amendments to the LSA Code to revise the lowering speed of survival craft and rescue boats for cargo ships

The sub-committee agreed to draft amendments to the LSA Code regarding minimum safe lowering speed and noted that the draft amendments should be applied to new installations only. Regarding maximum safe lowering speed, the sub-committee agreed in principle to the draft amendments to the LSA Code and recommend to MSC 107 that the scope of this output should be expanded accordingly.

Revision of SOLAS chapter III and the LSA Code

During this session the sub-committee supported terms of reference for a possible subsequent in-person intersessional Working Group which will focus on developing the hazard identification matrix in support of this agenda item. A subsequent intersessional Working Group will first require authorization by the Maritime Safety Committee.

Review of SOLAS chapter II-2 and associated codes to minimize the incidence and consequences of fires on ro-ro spaces and special category spaces of new and existing ro-ro passenger ships

The sub-committee finalized draft amendments to SOLAS chapter II-2 and the FSS Code concerning fire safety on ro-ro passenger ships. Work at this session included finalizing proposed draft amendments to the FSS Code which add relevant EN 54 and IEC standards to the code and allow for linear heat detectors to be used as an alternative to point heat detectors on all ships (this was previously limited to ro-ro passenger ships). The sub-committee also finalized draft amendments to MSC.1/Circ.1430/Rev.2 concerning the term “free height.”. All amendments have a view to submission for approval by MSC 107.

Development of amendments to the LSA Code for thermal performance of immersion suits

The sub-committee finalized draft amendments to MSC.81(70) covering prototype tests for immersion suits, which clarified a time requirement for stopping a test under certain conditions.  It was noted that additional test requirements are being developed and may need to be incorporated in the future; hence the sub-committee recommended the output remain on the agenda for SSE 10.

Development of amendments to the LSA Code and resolution MSC.81(70) to address the in-water performance of SOLAS lifejackets

The sub-committee finalized draft amendments to the LSA Code, MSC.81(70) and test forms which will be sent to MSC 107 for approval and subsequent adoption. These amendments clarified portions of the water performance test, and reflected these changes in the test forms.  

Development of amendments to SOLAS chapter II-2 and the FSS Code concerning detection and control of fires in cargo holds and on the cargo deck of containerships

The sub-committee noted that an FSA Experts Group will be established to review the outcome of a CARGOSAFE FSA study as well as two papers that were submitted by Qatar et al and the Republic of Korea under this agenda item this session. This item will remain on the agenda for consideration during SSE 10.

Development of amendments to SOLAS chapter II-2 and MSC.1/Circ.1456 addressing fire protection of control stations on cargo ships

The sub-committee finalized draft amendments to SOLAS regulation II-2/7.5.5 and MSC.1/Cir.1456 with respect to the protection of accommodation and service and control stations. The sub-committee also noted that the work on this output had been completed.

Revision of the Code of Safety for Diving Systems (resolution A.831(19)) and the Guidelines and specifications for hyperbaric evacuation systems (resolution A.692(17))

The sub-committee finalized the draft MSC resolution on “International Code of Safety of Diving Operations, 2023 (2023 Diving Code)” which will be sent to MSC 107 for approval and adoption.

Validated model training courses

The sub-committee reviewed Model Course 3.03, Survey of Machinery Installations, and agreed to a draft revision of the course in principle with a view to validation. The next model course to be reviewed is Model Course 3.04, Survey of Electrical Installations, this will be completed by a drafting group and be considered during SSE 10.

Unified interpretation of provisions of IMO safety, security and environment-related conventions

Eight unified interpretations were submitted and 13 carried over from SSE 9. Of these, four were agreed to, ten were referred to correspondence groups and seven were not agreed to. The approved draft interpretations will be sent to MSC 107 for final approval. They cover several topics including separation of ducts from spaces, reliability of single essential propulsion components, cable and wiring in hazardous locations and the use of LED torches in survival craft.

Development of provisions to prohibit the use of fire-fighting foams containing perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) for fire-fighting on board ships

The sub-committee expects MSC 107 to adopt amendments to the FSS Code and SOLAS to ban PFOS. The working group discussed prohibiting other environmentally harmful foams besides PFOS and agreed to expand the output to be “Development of provisions to consider prohibiting the use of fire-fighting foams containing fluorinated substances, in addition to PFOS for fire-fighting onboard ships,” pending approval from MSC 107.

Amendments to the LSA Code concerning single fall and hook systems with on-load release capability

The sub-committee agreed to draft amendments to the LSA code regarding single fall and hook systems which will be sent to MSC 107 for approval and subsequent adoption by MSC 108.

Correspondence Groups established

 The following correspondence groups were established at this session:

  • The Life-Saving Appliances Correspondence Group will continue work on unified interpretation on launching rescue boats on cargo ships and development of resolution MSC.402(96).
  • The Fire Protection Correspondence Group will continue work on multiple Unified Interpretations as assigned during this session and consider draft amendments to the Revised Guidelines for the Performance and Testing Criteria, and Surveys of Foam Concentrates for Fixed Fire-Extinguishing Systems (MSC.1/Circ. 1312).

Finally, the Sub-Committee re-elected Mr. U. Şentürk (Turkey) as Chair and elected Mr. C. Aliperta (Palau) as Vice-Chair. The tenth session of the SSE Sub-committee (SSE 10) is tentatively scheduled for March 4-8 2024.

Contact us at imo@uscg.mil if you are interested in participating in discussions of any of the above topics.

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This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official publications, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These publications remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.