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Key points of the IMO SSE 7 outcome
  • Post by: St Kitts & Nevis International Ship Registry
  • Date: 09-03-2020

The 7th session of IMO’s Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE) took place in London on 2-6 March 2020. Highlights of the meeting included agreement of draft new requirements for onboard lifting appliances, and on draft new interim guidelines for safe operation of shore power, as well as progressed work on ventilation of survival craft and on fire safety of ro-ro passenger ships.

Meeting highlights

  • Drafted new SOLAS requirements and guideline for lifting appliances 
  • Drafted new interim guideline on safe operation of shore power
  • Progressed draft new requirements for ventilation of survival craft
  • Progressed draft SOLAS amendments to enhance the fire safety of ro-ro passenger ships
  • Agreed to improve the safety of commercial diving operations.

DNV GL provided a key outcome of the meeting, which can be summarised into the following points:

-Shore power
SSE 7 agreed to a draft interim guideline on the “safe operation of onshore power supply (OPS) service in port”.
The guideline will be submitted to the Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watch-keeping for consideration, and to MSC 103 (November 2020) for approval.

-Life-saving appliances
Ventilation of survival craft: Progressing work of SSE 6, SSE 7 agreed to amendments to resolution MSC.81(70) to address prototype testing of the ventilation means for totally enclosed lifeboats. it also progressed work on developing draft new mandatory ventilation requirements to achieve habitable microclimates inside partially enclosed lifeboats and life rafts.
Fall and hook systems with on-load release capability: SSE 7 agreed to amendments to LSA Code paragraph to ensure adequate safety standards for lifeboats and rescue boats fitted with single fall and hook systems with on-load release capability. The amendments will go to a future session of MSC for approval, targeting entry into force in January 2024.
Launching of free-fall lifeboats: SSE 7 agreed to remove the requirement to launch free-fall lifeboats with the ship making headway at speeds up to 5 knots in calm water, as there is no additional dynamic load on the launching arrangements to be accounted for. It also agreed draft amendments to SOLAS chapter III, LSA Code and resolution MSC.81(70), in addition to a draft MSC circular on voluntary early implementation of draft amendments. The draft amendments will go to MSC 103 for approval.
Life-saving appliance evaluation and test report forms: SSE 7 agreed to restructure and amend the non-mandatory “Standardised life-saving appliance evaluation and test report forms” (MSC/Circ. 980 and addenda) to incorporate effective amendments to the LSA Code and the “Revised recommendation on testing of life-saving appliances” (resolution MSC.81(70)). The draft revised evaluation and test report forms will go to MSC 103 (November 2020) for approval.

-Fire protection

Fire safety of ro-ro passenger ships: SSE 7 focused on appropriate measures for new ro-ro passenger ships, including enhanced fire detection, CCTV and monitors on weather deck. Suitable measures for existing ships were also considered. Discussions will continue in a correspondence group until SSE 8 (March 2021).
Dry chemical powder fire extinguishing systems for LNG tankers: SSE 7 discussed draft amendments to the “Guidelines for the approval of fixed dry chemical powder fire-extinguishing systems for the protection of ships carrying liquefied gases in bulk” (MSC.1/Circ.1315). SSE 7 agreed to use currently available ISO standards to conduct fire tests of the dry chemical powder, including a small-scale fire test. SSE 8 (March 2021) will further discuss the permitted type of dry chemical powder.
Fault isolation of fire detection systems: SSE 7 agreed on draft amendments to chapter 9 of the Fire Safety Systems (FSS) Code, addressing fixed fire detection systems, to adjust the requirements to short circuit isolators. It was agreed that short circuit isolators do not need to be provided at each individually identifiable fire detector for cargo ships and for passenger ship balconies. For cargo ships, one per deck will typically be acceptable. MSC 103 (November 2020) will approve the draft amendments.
Fixed carbon dioxide fire-extinguishing systems: SSE 7 agreed on draft amendments to the “Guidelines for the maintenance and inspections of fixed CO2 fire-extinguishing systems” (MSC.1/Circ.1318). As such, 10% of the total number of CO2 cylinders shall still be tested at the 10-year inspection, but the 20-year test regime has expanded from testing another 10% to all cylinders not tested so far (90%). All cylinders (100%) shall be tested at every 10-year anniversary thereafter. The draft amendments will head to MSC 103 (November 2020) for approval.

-Safety for diving systems and hyperbaric evacuation systems
SSE 7 agreed to update the non-mandatory “Code of safety for diving systems” and the “Guidelines and specifications for hyperbaric evacuation systems”, in line with the generic guidelines for developing IMO goal-based standards (MSC.1/Circ.1394/Rev.2), to improve the safety of commercial diving operations. The work will take place in a correspondence group until SSE 8 (March 2021).