DE 47 agrees revised text for Means of Access regulation

In an unprecedented revision of an IMO regulation before it has come into force, the IMO Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment during its 47th session (DE 47), which was held between 25 February and 5 March 2004, revised and agreed a new text for the Technical Provisions for the Means of Access for Inspections (colloquially also known as Permanent Means of Access, or PMA) for tankers and for bulk carriers. The new text will be submitted for the consideration of the 78th session of the Maritime Safety Committee of the IMO (MSC78), due to be held between 12 and 21 May 2004.

The revised text is meant to replace the provisions adopted by IMO Resolution MSC 133(76) in December 2002 and which are due to come into force on 1 July 2004 for newbuildings whose keel will be laid on 1 January 2005.

In summary the decisions of the Ship Design and Equipment Sub-Committee are as follows:

The requirements for Means of Access do not apply to chemical tankers, which comply with the IBC Code, even when carrying oil products. The requirements will also not apply to cargo tanks of new oil tankers which are built without underdeck structure.

For new tankers whose cargo tanks do contain underdeck structure, the requirements are for permanent means of access consisting of platforms and ladders integrated and aligned to the ship’s structural strength elements. These requirements also apply to any ballast tanks whose width is more than 5 metres. Bilge hopper sections whose height from the tank bottom to the upper knuckle point is 6 metres and over are to be provided with permanent means of access; however when the height of the bilge hopper is less than 6 metres, alternative or portable means of access are to be provided. There are also requirements for forepeak tanks.  For details, click here for full article by Nikos Mikelis. For a more precise review of the requirements readers should consult the IMO text which will be available soon.

It should be stressed that the newly agreed Technical Provisions may be modified or even rejected by the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee in May 2004, although this is considered to be improbable.

The reversal of the Means of Access regulation was made possible only with a lot of hard technical work over the last 6 months by INTERTANKO, by its partners of the Round Table of international shipping associations, by IACS and by OCIMF. The support of administrations, most notably Greece, and of the IMO Secretariat, is also acknowledged.

Contact: Dragos Rauta