United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (IMO) last week formally adopted globally binding regulations for ships using liquefied natural gas (LNG) as fuel, as part of proceedings at the 95th session of the IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 95). The MSC adopted the International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other Low-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code), along with amendments to make the Code mandatory under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). The changes become effective 1 January 2017.
The use of gas as fuel, particularly liquefied natural gas (LNG), has increased in recent years due to lower sulphur and particulate emissions than fuel oil or marine diesel oil. But gas and other low-flashpoint fuels pose their own set of safety challenges, which need to be properly managed. The IGF Code aims to minimize the risk to the ship, its crew and the environment, having regard to the nature of the fuels involved.
The amendments to SOLAS chapter II-1 (Construction – Structure, subdivision and stability, machinery and electrical installations), include amendments to Part F Alternative design and arrangements, to provide a methodology for alternative design and arrangements for machinery, electrical installations and low-flashpoint fuel storage and distribution systems; and a new Part G Ships using low-flashpoint fuels, to add new regulations to require ships constructed after the expected date of entry into force of 1 January 2017 to comply with the requirements of the IGF Code, together with related amendments to chapter II-2 and Appendix (Certificates).
The IGF Code contains mandatory provisions for the arrangement, installation, control and monitoring of machinery, equipment and systems using low-flashpoint fuels, focusing initially on LNG.
The Code addresses all areas that need special consideration for the usage of low-flashpoint fuels, taking a goal-based approach, with goals and functional requirements specified for each section forming the basis for the design, construction and operation of ships using this type of fuel.
The MSC also adopted related amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), and STCW Code, to include new mandatory minimum requirements for the training and qualifications of masters, officers, ratings and other personnel on ships subject to the IGF Code. The amendments also have an entry into force date of 1 January 2017, in line with the SOLAS amendments related to the IGF Code.
The regulations will enter into force in 2017 and apply to new ships and new conversions of ships, except for gas tankers.
IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships. Web site: www.imo.org