Polar Code adopted - IGF Code edges closer

Nov 28 2014


The IMO adopted the Polar Code and related amendments to SOLAS. thus making it mandatory during the 94th session of IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), which met last week.

Ships trading in the polar regions already have to comply with all relevant international standards adopted by IMO, but the newly adopted SOLAS chapter XIV ‘Safety measures for ships operating in polar waters, adds additional requirements, by making mandatory the Polar Code. 

It is expected that the date of entry into force of the SOLAS amendments will be 1st January, 2017. The Code will apply to new ships constructed after that date. However, ships constructed before this date will be required to meet the relevant requirements of the Polar Code by the first intermediate or renewal survey, whichever occurs first, after 1st January, 2018.

Because it contains both safety and environment related provisions, the Polar Code will be mandatory under both SOLAS and MARPOL. Last month, IMO’s MEPC approved the necessary draft amendments to make the environmental provisions in the the Polar Code mandatory under MARPOL.

MEPC is expected to adopt the Code and associated MARPOL amendments at its next session in May 2015, with an entry-into-force date to be aligned with the SOLAS amendments. 

In addition, the MSC revised the ESP Code to allow cargo tank testing on tankers carried out within the special survey window by the vessel's crew under the direction of the Master to be accepted as fulfilling the testing requirement provided the RO’s surveyor is satisfied that the tank testing has been satisfactorily carried out in accordance with an approved testing procedure.

 

Acceptance of the testing is also contingent on there being no record of leakage, distortion, or substantial corrosion that would affect the structural integrity of the tank.

 

cargo tank venting arrangements were revised for new tankers that will require secondary means of venting to allow full flow relief of cargo, or inert gas vapours at all times, including in the event of damage to, or inadvertent closing of, the primary means of venting.

 

The committee also approved in principle the IGF Code, as well as two amendments to SOLAS Chapter II-1.

 

One amendment revises Part F Regulation 55 to account for the IGF Code requirement that ships using other low-flash point fuels (methanol, propane, butane, ethanol, hydrogen, dimethyl ether, etc) need to comply with the functional requirements of the Code through the alternative design regulation based on an engineering analysis. Operationally-dependent alternatives are not permitted, the MSC said.

If adopted at MSC 95 in June 2015, it is expected that the mandatory provisions will enter into force on 1st January, 2017 and will apply to new ships with a building contract placed on or after that date, or in the absence of a building contract, the keel of which is laid, or which is at a similar stage of construction on, or after 1st July, 2017 or regardless of the building contract or keel laying date, the delivery is on, or after 1st January, 2020.

Ships, which commence a conversion on/after 1st January, 2017 to use low-flash point fuels, or use additional, or different low-flash point fuels other than those for which it was originally certified, will need to comply with the IGF Code.

IMO plans to develop additional parts of the IGF Code to provide detailed requirements for other specific low flash point fuels, such as methanol, LPG, etc, at a later date and as industry experience develops.

It was clarified the IGF Code is not intended to apply to gas carriers. Currently, low-flash point fuel means gaseous or liquid fuel having a flash point lower than 60 deg C. However, IMO agreed to ask the sub-committee on ship systems and equipment to review the flash point requirements for oil fuel considering a proposal to lower this to 52 deg C.

The more significant provisions of the Code included a risk assessment is to be conducted to ensure that risks arising from the use of gas-fuel, or low-flash point fuels affecting persons on board, the environment, the structural strength, or the integrity of the ship are addressed.

Consideration is to be given to the hazards associated with physical layout, operation and maintenance, following any reasonably foreseeable failure. The scope and methodology of this risk assessment remains to be clarified and IACS is in the process of developing a unified requirement for this.

Ships trading in the polar regions already have to comply with all relevant international standards adopted by IMO, but the newly adopted SOLAS chapter XIV ‘Safety measures for ships operating in polar waters, adds additional requirements, by making mandatory the Polar Code. 

It is expected that the date of entry into force of the SOLAS amendments will be 1st January, 2017. The Code will apply to new ships constructed after that date. However, ships constructed before this date will be required to meet the relevant requirements of the Polar Code by the first intermediate or renewal survey, whichever occurs first, after 1st January, 2018.

Because it contains both safety and environment related provisions, the Polar Code will be mandatory under both SOLAS and MARPOL. Last month, IMO’s MEPC approved the necessary draft amendments to make the environmental provisions in the the Polar Code mandatory under MARPOL.

MEPC is expected to adopt the Code and associated MARPOL amendments at its next session in May 2015, with an entry-into-force date to be aligned with the SOLAS amendments. 

In addition, the MSC revised the ESP Code to allow cargo tank testing on tankers carried out within the special survey window by the vessel's crew under the direction of the Master to be accepted as fulfilling the testing requirement provided the RO’s surveyor is satisfied that the tank testing has been satisfactorily carried out in accordance with an approved testing procedure.

Acceptance of the testing is also contingent on there being no record of leakage, distortion, or substantial corrosion that would affect the structural integrity of the tank.

cargo tank venting arrangements were revised for new tankers that will require secondary means of venting to allow full flow relief of cargo, or inert gas vapours at all times, including in the event of damage to, or inadvertent closing of, the primary means of venting.

The committee also approved in principle the IGF Code, as well as two amendments to SOLAS Chapter II-1.

One amendment revises Part F Regulation 55 to account for the IGF Code requirement that ships using other low-flash point fuels (methanol, propane, butane, ethanol, hydrogen, dimethyl ether, etc) need to comply with the functional requirements of the Code through the alternative design regulation based on an engineering analysis. Operationally-dependent alternatives are not permitted, the MSC said.

If adopted at MSC 95 in June 2015, it is expected that the mandatory provisions will enter into force on 1st January, 2017 and will apply to new ships with a building contract placed on or after that date, or in the absence of a building contract, the keel of which is laid, or which is at a similar stage of construction on, or after 1st July, 2017 or regardless of the building contract or keel laying date, the delivery is on, or after 1st January, 2020.

Ships, which commence a conversion on/after 1st January, 2017 to use low-flash point fuels, or use additional, or different low-flash point fuels other than those for which it was originally certified, will need to comply with the IGF Code.

IMO plans to develop additional parts of the IGF Code to provide detailed requirements for other specific low flash point fuels, such as methanol, LPG, etc, at a later date and as industry experience develops.

It was clarified the IGF Code is not intended to apply to gas carriers. Currently, low-flash point fuel means gaseous or liquid fuel having a flash point lower than 60 deg C. However, IMO agreed to ask the sub-committee on ship systems and equipment to review the flash point requirements for oil fuel considering a proposal to lower this to 52 deg C.

The more significant provisions of the Code included a risk assessment is to be conducted to ensure that risks arising from the use of gas-fuel, or low-flash point fuels affecting persons on board, the environment, the structural strength, or the integrity of the ship are addressed.

Consideration is to be given to the hazards associated with physical layout, operation and maintenance, following any reasonably foreseeable failure. The scope and methodology of this risk assessment remains to be clarified and IACS is in the process of developing a unified requirement for this.



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