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Thursday, January 18, 2018

IMO SEEKS NEW SOLAS REGULATION FOR BETTER ACCESS TO INSPECTIONS

The IMO Design and Equipment Sub-Committee meeting has positively answered a proposal from Bahamas to amend the current SOLAS Regulation II-1/12-2 and thus requests mandatory "Access to and within spaces in the cargo area of oil tankers and bulk carriers".

Although the issue was presented this week, many Governments decided to seek for an agreed draft to be submitted for approval at the Maritime Safety Committee's 74th session in two months’ time. INTERTANKO and IACS were part of the discussions and highlighted a few practical problems, especially because of the pace of the developments on an issue which could prove to be quite complex and difficult to comply with.

Basically, NEW oil tankers would be requested to provide easy access to "critical areas" which, based on previous experience or calculations, could raise safety concerns and should be checked for structural damages, coating break-down or corrosion. In practical terms, these new requirements would mean a permanent solution to facilitate close-up surveys on the deck head. Since there are no immediate answers to such requirements, it was decided that, although the rule might be adopted in June this year, there should be technical provisions associated with this regulation. These technical provisions for means of access for will be further discussed at the next D&E session in 2002.

As mentioned, there are no immediate solutions in sight. INTERTANKO’s Safety, Technical and Environmental Committee (ISTEC) will discuss this subject at its meeting next week and will assess the various options. One option is that the structural elements of new buildings should be placed on deck rather than under deck. Another thought that the INTERTANKO delegation at IMO has considered, is the possible use of fiberoptic technology (through small openings on the deck) when inspecting deck heads of cargo tanks and thus an alternative to permanent staging, which in itself is a complicated solution.  For more information on this issue please contact Dragos Rauta (dragos.rauta@intertanko.com)