A new code for ships using gases or other low-flashpoint fuels entered into force on 1 January 2017, along with new training requirements for seafarers working on those ships. The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) demands compliance with the requirements of the IGF code, which contains mandatory provisions for the arrangement, installation, control and monitoring of machinery, equipment and systems using gases, focusing initially on liquefied natural gas (LNG).
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) explains the rationale behind the new code: Gas and other low-flashpoint fuels are cleaner for the atmosphere as they emit very low levels of air pollutants, such as sulphur oxides and particulates. But these fuels pose their own safety challenges, which need to be properly managed. The International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other Low-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code) aims to minimize the risk to ships, their crews and the environment, given 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 entry into force on 1 January 2017 to comply with the requirements of the IGF Code. Related amendments to chapter II-2 and Appendix (Certificates) also enter into force.
The IGF Code addresses all areas that need special consideration for the use 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.
IMO is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.