Report from IMO's Design and Equipment Meeting

In a well-organised and systematic meeting held at the IMO this week, the delegations of the Design and Equipment sub-Committee successfully covered the extensive agenda which was concluded earlier today. The meeting saw agreement for action on lifeboat safety, protection of pump rooms and permanent means of access.

A new sub-section to regulation 13 of Annex I to MARPOL was drafted to take into account the protection of pump rooms. Although the new regulation was based on 13F and the requirements for a double bottom, the draft takes into account the potential problems with steep rising sterns such as those found on the gondola design, and also takes into account the use of submersible pumps, with an exemption being given to the latter. This new regulation will be incorporated into the general revision of Annex I currently being finalised by the IMO and due for adoption at the end of this year.

The drafting group established during the meeting to cover issues related to lifeboat safety, developed final drafts proposals regarding simulated launching of freefall lifeboats, lifeboat drills, lifeboat maintenance and float free arrangements for free fall lifeboats. Concerns were raised however concerning float free requirements that such standards were currently not available within the lifeboat industry, and ongoing discussions today indicated that this should perhaps await developments by the lifeboat industry before agreeing to relevant regulations. This debate continues as we go to press and an update on the outcome will be given in next week’s news. The final outcome of this work will be sent to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) for approval at its meeting in May this year.

Although Germany came with two papers regarding the use of emergency towing systems (ETS) for all ships over 300dwt, the Sub-committee agreed that there was still no compelling evidence that there was a need to have ETS on ships other than tankers above 20,000dwt. However, this will now be on the agenda for the next design and equipment meeting with a request for papers commenting on this issue. INTERTANKO’s ISTEC will be reviewing this issue and its applicability to tankers below 20,000dwt.

A Correspondence Group may be established to open a discussion on the protection of fuel tanks. A brief discussion during the meeting revealed that there were still two schools of thought on how to progress on this issue. Firstly, those who favoured the use of double hull protection and those who favoured the probabilistic outflow method which allows for protective location and other methods to reduce the outflow of fuel in the event of a ground or collision. INTERTANKO’s work with SNAME will be taken into account and INTERTANKO will be engaged in the Correspondence Group (if established). Further discussion on the issue at the meeting focused on whether the application of fuel tank protection should be based on the amount of fuel carried or the ship’s deadweight.

The proposals regarding the application of SWL assessment and marking for mooring bitts used for towing purposes was agreed with regard to newbuildings, and this will now be sent to MSC for approval. However, no conclusion could be reached regarding a proposal by Australia to seek standard inspection practices for mooring & towing ropes, aimed to assist PSC officers enforce mooring standards. INTERTANKO raised concerns regarding agreeing upon regulations at this stage without first assessing and formulating the practical applications of implementing such practices for mooring ropes, that would not compromise the quality owner, but which would rather be directed at the sub-standard owner as intended in the proposal. INTERTANKO is, together with other industry representatives, working on this issue and will continue participation in the discussion when the matter is passed for further review to the IMO’s Navigation sub-Committee, meeting later this year.

Finally, the Sub-committee also discussed the need to begin work on the establishment of guidelines for the installation of exhaust gas scrubbing equipment. The USA proposed a basic outline for these guidelines which will be further discussed in a Correspondence Group, in which INTERTANKO will participate.

Contacts: Tim Wilkins, : Dragos Rauta, Howard Snaith