IMO drafts regulations to make onboard lifting appliances safer

Crane collapse on NYK Themis in 2009.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has announced that the Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE) is drafting a set of mandatory SOLAS regulations to ensure that the design, construction, installation, and maintenance of lifting appliances such as onboard cargo cranes and anchor handling winches are made safer

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim and chair Dr. Susumu Ota (Japan) opened the SSE 6 meeting that is expected to review and further develop draft interim guidelines and draft amendments to the SOLAS Convention and associated Codes 

The SSE intends to focus on fire safety, the Life-Saving Appliance (LSA) Code, and on-shore power supply. Review and amendments to the existing SOLAS regulations are intended to limit any accidents, and reduce harm to operators and damage to ships, cargo, shore-based structures and subsea structures, as well as the marine environment. 

To this end, fire safety codes pertaining to the minimising of fires on ro-ro spaces and special category spaces of new and existing ro-ro passenger ships are under review. This seems especially timely following the blaze on ro-ro container vessel Grande Americawhich caught fire and capsized in the Bay of Biscay on 10 March while sailing from Germany to Morocco.

 Furthermore, the SSE will develop relevant guidelines for the approval of fixed dry powder systems used on ships carrying liquefied gases in bulk.

The committee is also expected to finalise draft amendments to the Life-Saving Appliance (LSA) Code on the ventilation requirements for survival craft, as well as revise recommendations regarding the testing of life-saving appliances in order to ensure habitable environments on survival crafts. Moreover, in support of the mandatory Polar Code, they will be finalising draft interim guidelines on life-saving appliances for ships operating in polar waters. The approval of alternative designs and arrangements for regulations on life-saving appliances will be factored as per goal-based standards and a safety-level approach.  

The SSE will also consider the work of a correspondence group on the development of draft guidelines on safe operation of on-shore power supply to ships (termed cold ironing, alternative maritime power, and shore-side electricity). An option on the table is the possibility of plugging a ship into shore-side power while stopping onboard generators to reduce local noise as well as air pollution from ships.