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SOLAS - The International Convention for the safety of life at sea

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Part A deals with general matters such as application, exemptions, definitions, evaluation and testing and production tests. Part B is concerned with ship requirements and contains three sections: Section I (regulations 6 to 19) deals with passenger ships and cargo ships; Section II (regulations 20 to 25) contains additional requirements for passenger ships and Section III (regulations 26 to 29) include additional requirements for cargo ships. Part C deals with life- saving appliance requirements. It contains 24 regulations divided into eight sections. Among the more important changes introduced by the revised Chapter III are those involving lifeboats and liferafts. Generally speaking, the lifeboats required by the original Chapter III of SOLAS 1974 are of the traditional open design, most of them without power. The revised chapter requires that all partially or totally enclosed lifeboats be equipped with an engine (regulation 41). All totally enclosed boats must be self-righting. Cargo ships must carry sufficient totally enclosed lifeboats on each side to accommodate all on board. Cargo ships must also carry liferafts for launching on each side which will accommodate all on board. Chemical and oil tankers must carry totally enclosed lifeboats equipped with a self-contained air support system (if the cargo emits toxic gases). In addition these lifeboats must afford protection against fire for at least eight minutes (where the cargo is flammable). Rescue boats - that is, boats which are designed to rescue persons in distress and to marshal survival craft are also required. On passenger ships partially or totally enclosed lifeboats are required on each side able to accommodate not less than 50 per cent of all persons on board. However, passenger ships on short international voyages (ferries) are permitted to substitute liferafts for some of the lifeboats. The requirements for inflatable and rigid liferafts have also been rewritten and expanded. The new chapter incorporates several regulations which are designed to ensure that all life-saving appliances are kept in good condition and can be used promptly in the event of an emergency. Chapter III requires (regulation 13) that survival craft be capable of being launched when the ship has a list of 20 degrees in either direction: the original Chapter III of SOLAS 1974 only requires launching with a 15 degree list. Chapter III also includes (regulation 28) a requirement that lifeboats on cargo ships of 20,000 tons gross tonnage and above be capable of being launched when the ship is making headway at speeds of up to 5 knots. This is a new requirement and is in response to the fact that ships have increased greatly in size since the original chapter was drafted and take much longer to stop. The greatest danger in an accident at sea is not drowning but hypothermia, and the new chapter includes a number of regulations designed to reduce this threat. These include requirements for improved personal life- saving appliances, including immersion suits (protective suits which reduce the body heat-loss of a person in cold water) and thermal protective aids (a bag or suit made of waterproof material with low thermal conductivity). The revised Chapter III also makes it easier for survivors to be located. Lifejackets must be fitted with lights and a whistle and provision is made for the use of retro-reflective materials. The amendments to Chapter VII (Carriage of dangerous goods) of the Convention are of great importance since they extend its application to chemical tankers and liquefied gas carriers. The original chapter applied only to dangerous goods carried in packaged form. The revised chapter achieves this by making reference to two new codes which have been developed by IMO. These are the International Bulk Chemical (IBC) Code and the International Gas Carrier (IGC) Code. Regulation 10 of the new chapter states that "a chemical tanker shall comply with the requirements of the International Bulk Chemical Code and shall ... be surveyed and certified as provided for in that Code. For the purpose of this regulation the requirements of the Code should be treated as mandatory". Regulation 13 makes a similar reference to gas carriers and the International Gas Carrier Code. Both Codes relate to ships built on or after 1 July 1986 and were finalized and adopted by the MSC during the session in which the amendments were adopted. The (April) 1988 Amendments In March 1987 the roll- on/roll-off passenger ferry Herald of Free Enterprise capsized and sank shortly after leaving Zeebrugge in Belgium. The accident resulted in the deaths of 193 passengers and crew members and led to demands for action to improve the safety of a ship type which has proved outstandingly successful from a commercial point of view. Shortly after the accident the United Kingdom came to IMO with a request that a series of emergency measures be considered for adoption. The proposals, many of which were based on the findings of the inquiry into the disaster, were presented to IMO in separate packages, the first of which was adopted by the MSC in April 1988. The amendments involve the addition of new regulations 23-2 and 42-1 to Chapter II-1 of the SOLAS Convention. Regulation 23-2 deals with the integrity of the hull and superstructure, damage prevention and control and requires that indicators be provided on the navigating bridge for all doors which, if left open, could lead to major flooding of a special category space or a ro-ro cargo space. The same regulation also requires that means be arranged, such as television surveillance or a water leakage detection system, to provide an indication to the navigating bridge of any leakage through doors which could lead to major flooding. Existing ships could be exempted from this requirement for a period of three years after the entry into force of the amendments (i.e. until 22 October 1992). Special category and ro-ro spaces must also be patrolled or monitored by effective means, such as television surveillance, so that undue movement of vehicles in adverse weather and unauthorized access by passengers can be observed whilst the ship is underway. A new regulation 42-1 deals with supplementary emergency lighting for ro-ro passenger ships. All public spaces and alleyways must be provided with supplementary lighting that can operate for at least three hours when all other sources of electric power have failed and under any condition of heel. A portable rechargeable battery-operated lamp must be provided in every crew space alleyway, recreational space and every working space which is normally occupied unless supplementary emergency lighting is provided. Existing ships could be exempted until 22 October 1990. The amendments entered into force on 22 October 1989 under tacit acceptance procedure. This normally results in amendments entering into force within two and a half years of the date of adoption by the MSC, but Article VIII does allow the Committee to select a different period of time but not less than a year and a half and this was the first time that the procedure had been used to reduce the period before entry into force to less than two and a half years. The amendments entered into force only 18 months after adoption - an indication of the great importance which IMO attaches to ro-ro safety. The (October) 1988 Amendments In October 1988 the MSC met again in a special session requested and paid for by the United Kingdom to consider a second package of amendments arising from the Herald of Free Enterprise tragedy. The amendments adopted entered into force on 29 April 1990. One of the most important amendments concerns regulation 8 of Chapter II-1 and is designed to improve the stability of passenger ships in the damaged condition. Work on the amendment began before the Herald of Free Enterprise sinking but adoption was brought forward because of its relevance to ro- ro safety. The amendment applies to ships built on or after 29 April 1990. The amendment considerably expands the existing regulation by introducing a value of 15 degrees for a minimum range of positive residual lever curve and a value of 0.015 m- rad for the area under the righting lever curve in the final condition after damage. For the purpose of calculating heeling moments it takes into account such factors as the crowding of passengers on to one side of the ship, the launching of survival craft on one side of the ship and wind pressure. The amendment also stipulates that the maximum angle of heel after flooding but before equalization shall not exceed 15 degrees. A further amendment to regulation 8 was proposed by the United Kingdom. It is concerned with intact rather than damage stability. It requires masters to be supplied with data necessary to maintain sufficient intact stability and the amendment expands the regulation by requiring that the information must show the influence of various trims, taking into account operational limits. Ships must also have scales of draughts marked clearly at the bow and stern. Where these are not easily readable the ship must also be fitted with a reliable draught indicating system. After loading and before departure the master must determine the ship's trim and stability. The next amendment adds a new regulation 20-1 which requires that cargo loading doors shall be locked before the ship proceeds on any voyage and remain closed until the ship is at its next berth. The third amendment affects regulation 22 and states that at periods not exceeding five years a lightweight survey must be carried out to passenger ships to verify any changes in lightweight displacement and the longitudinal centre of gravity. The lightweight of a ship consists of the hull, machinery crew and fittings without fuel and stores. Additions to the structure can add significantly to lightweight and affect the ship's stability. The November 1988 Protocols (Harmonization) The April and October amendments were all adopted in response to an emergency. By contrast the other changes made to SOLAS during 1988 were all the result of many years of careful deliberation. They involved two subjects - the introduction of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and the introduction of a harmonized survey and certification system. The latter was recommended by the 1978 conference on tanker safety and pollution prevention. It recognized the difficulties caused by the survey and certification requirements of SOLAS, the International Convention on Load Lines, 1966 and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto. All three instruments require the issuing of certificates to show that requirements have been met and this has to be done by means of a survey which can involve the ship being out of service for several days. However, the survey dates and intervals between surveys do not always coincide. As a result, a ship may have to go into port or repair yard for a survey required by one convention shortly after doing the same thing in connection with another instrument. The 1978 conference called upon IMO to develop a harmonized system which would enable the surveys to be carried out at the same time. Although MARPOL can be amended by means of a tacit acceptance procedure, this procedure cannot be applied to SOLAS and the Load Lines conventions as far as surveys and certification are concerned. It was decided therefore to introduce the harmonized system by means of Protocols to the two instruments which will enter into force 12 months after being accepted by not less than 15 States whose combined merchant fleets constitute not less than 50 per cent of world tonnage. Neither Protocol can enter into force before the other and entry into force requirements have not yet been met. The harmonized system provides for a maximum period of validity of five years for all certificates of cargo ships and 12 months for the Passenger Ship Safety Certificate. Annual inspections have been made mandatory for cargo ships and unscheduled inspections have been discontinued. Other changes have been made to survey intervals and requirements. The 1988 (GMDSS) Amendments Work on the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) began in the 1970s and the amendments entered into force on 1 February 1992. The System is being phased in between 1 February 1992 and 1 February 1999. The basic concept of the system is that search and rescue (SAR) authorities ashore as well as shipping in the immediate vicinity of the ship in distress will be rapidly alerted to a distress incident so they can assist in a co- ordinated SAR operation with the minimum of delay. The system will also provide safety communications and the dissemination of maritime safety information, including navigational and meteorological warnings and other urgent information to ships. Although satellites operated by the International Mobile Satellite Organization will play an important part in the GMDSS but they will not completely replace coast radio stations and equipment requirements will vary according to the sea area in which the ship operates. Ships operating within range of DSC (Digital Selective Calling) VHF coast stations, for example, will only have to carry DSC VHF radio installations. The new system will require the carriage of other equipment designed to improve the chances of rescue following an accident, such as satellite emergency position- indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs) and search and rescue radar transponders (SARTs) for the location of the ship or survival craft. It is expected that the GMDSS will greatly speed up SAR operations and ensure that distress messages are received much more quickly and reliably than at present. The use of the Morse Code, which has been used for distress communications at sea since the beginning of the century, will also be phased out. The April 1989 Amendments Further amendments to SOLAS were adopted by the MSC in April 1989. They also entered into force on 1 February 1992. Several regulations of Chapter II-1 were amended, the most important being regulation 15 which deals with openings in watertight bulkheads in passenger ships. From 1 February 1992 new ships have had to be equipped with power-operated sliding doors, except in specific cases and must be capable of being closed from a console on the bridge in not more than 60 seconds. The amendments make it clear that all watertight doors must be kept closed except in exceptional circumstances. Other amendments affect Chapters II-2, III, IV, V and VI. The May 1990 Amendments Important changes were made to the way in which the subdivision and damage stability of cargo ships is determined. They apply to ships of 100 metres or more in length built on or after 1 February 1992. The amendments introduce a new part B-1 of Chapter II-1, containing subdivision and damage stability requirements for cargo ships based upon the so-called "probabilistic" concept of survival, which was originally developed through study of data relating to collisions collected by IMO. This showed a pattern in accidents which could be used in improving the design of ships: most damage, for example, is sustained in the forward part of ships and it seemed logical, therefore, to improve the standard of subdivision there rather than towards the stern. Because it is based on statistical evidence as to what actually happens when ships collide, the probabilistic concept provides a far more realistic scenario than the earlier "deterministic" method, whose principles regarding the subdivision of passenger ships are theoretical rather than practical in concept. At the same meeting amendments were adopted to the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code) and the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (IGC Code). The May 1991 Amendments Perhaps the main change made in these amendments, which entered into force on 1 January 1994, was the complete rewriting of Chapter VI, which previously only covered the carriage of grain. The amendments extend the chapter to cover other cargoes, including bulk cargoes. Other amendments affect Chapter II-2, which deals with fire safety, Chapter III (life- saving appliances), Chapter V (safety of navigation) and Chapter VII (carriage of dangerous goods). The new Chapter VI has been retitled Carriage of Cargoes. It will apply to all cargoes except liquids in bulk and gases in bulk, both of which are covered by other IMO instruments. The revised chapter contains three sections. Part A contains general provisions. Regulation 2 requires shippers to provide masters with appropriate infirmation concerning the cargo. Regulation 3 covers oxygen analysis and detection equipment and regulation 4 deals with the use of pesticides: reference is made to the IMO Recommendation on the safe use of pesticides in ships. Regulation 5 deals with stowage and securing and is particularly concerned with cargo units and containers. Part B of the new Chapter VI deals with bulk cargoes other than grain. It contains only two regulations, the first of which (Regulation 6) deals with the acceptability of cargoes for shipment. Two IMO recommendations, on intact stability and on severe wind and rolling criterion, are referred to. Regulation 7 deals with the stowage of bulk cargoes. Part C also only contains two regulations and its chief purpose is to define the coverage of the International Grain Code. The new Chapter VI is a great deal shorter than the previous one, but its provisions are backed by a number of Codes. Only the International Grain Code is mandatory in its entirety. The other Codes are all recommended. They are the Code of Safe Practice for Cargo Stowage and Securing (parts of which have been mandatory since 1 July 1996), the Code of Safe Practice for Solid Bulk Cargoes (BC Code) and the Code of Safe Practice for Ships Carrying Timber Deck Cargoes. Regulation 1 of the revised Chapter says that Contracting Governments to SOLAS must ensure that "appropriate information on cargo and its stowage and securing is provided". By means of an asterisk, reference is then made to the Codes. Code of Safe Practice for Cargo Stowage and Securing The aim of the Code is to provide an international standard for the safe stowage and securing of cargoes. It gives advice on ways of securing and stowing cargoes and gives specific guidance on cargoes which are known to create difficulties or hazards. It also gives advice on actions to be taken in heavy seas and to remedy cargo shift. The Code is divided into seven chapters and a number of annexes dealing with such "problem" cargoes as portable tanks and receptacles; wheel- based cargoes; heavy cargo items such as locomotives and transformers; coiled sheet steel; heavy metal products; anchor chains; metal scrap in bulk; flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBCs); the under-deck stowage of logs; and unit loads. Code of Safe Practice for Ships Carrying Timber Deck Cargoes, 1991 The Code replaces a version first circulated in 1972. It was necessary to revise this because of the continuing occurrence of casualties involving shift and the loss of timber deck cargoes, the employment of larger and more sophisticated ships, new techniques and the desirability of having more comprehensive recommendations. It covers such matters as stability, stowage, personnel protection and safety devices and action to be taken during the voyage. One appendix gives advice on stowing practices and another contains general guidelines on the under-deck stowage of logs. International Code for the Safe Carriage of Grain in Bulk The Code applies to all ships, including those of less than 500 tons gross tonnage. Grain has been carried at sea for thousands of years, but has always presented problems because of its tendency to shift when carried in bulk. Measures to counter this were included in the 1960 version of SOLAS and in equivalent measures adopted in 1969. The 1969 rules formed the basis of Chapter VI of the 1974 SOLAS Convention, and were known as the IMO Grain Rules. They are based on the recognition that, in a compartment nominally filled with grain, there exists a void space between the surface of the grain and the deckhead. The Rules require demonstration by calculation that at all times during a voyage the ship will have sufficient intact stability to provide adequate residual dynamic stability after taking into account the adverse heeling effects caused by an assumed pattern of grain movement. Temporary fittings to reduce grain shift, such as shifting boards, depend entirely upon achieving the correct relationship between the intact stability characteristics of the ship and the heeling effects of a possible grain shift within the various compartments. The Rules require a minimum level of acceptable stability for the carriage of grain in terms of angle of heel due to assumed grain shift, residual righting energy and initial metacentric height. In the new Chapter VI, the carriage of grain is generally dealt with in two regulations and detailed grain rules have been transferred to the mandatory Code. Code of Safe Practice for Solid Bulk Cargoes (BC Code) The BC Code is IMO's basic instrument dealing with bulk cargo carriage. It was first adopted by the IMO Assembly in 1979 and has been revised several times since then. Chapter II-2: Construction - fire protection, fire detection and fire extinction Two of the amendments apply to all ships. They affect regulations 20 and 21, which deal respectively with fire control plans and ready availability of fire- extinguishing appliances. The remaining amendments concern new passenger ships built on or after 1 January 1994 and are particularly concerned with fire safety on ships, such as modern cruise liners, on which large open spaces such as atriums are commonly provided. Atriums are defined as public spaces which span three or more decks and contain combustibles such as furniture and enclosed spaces, such as shops, offices and restaurants. Regulation 28 has been revised to make it mandatory for such spaces to be provided with two means of escape, one of which gives direct access to an enclosed vertical means of escape. Regulation 32 requires that such spaces be fitted with a smoke extraction system, which can be activated manually as well as by a smoke detection system, which is required under the amended regulation 40. Regulation 36 has been amended to make it mandatory for such spaces to be fitted with automatic sprinkler systems. Chapter III: Life-saving appliances and arrangements Regulation 18, which covers abandon ship training and drills has been amended to cover emergency training and drills. The changes deal with fire drills and on-board training and instructions. Chapter V: Safety of navigation The amendments are concerned with arrangements for transferring pilots. The new regulation 17 applies to all arrangements for pilot transfer installed on or after 1 January 1994. Existing ships will continue to be covered by the original text but "due regard shall be paid to the standards adopted by the Organization". Reference is then made to Assembly resolution A.667(16), a recommendation on pilot transfer arrangements adopted by the IMO Assembly in 1989, to which the technical requirements previously contained in the Convention have been transferred. Chapter VII: Carriage of dangerous goods Regulation 5, which deals with documents has been revised to make it necessary for those packing dangerous goods in containers to provide an appropriate certificate. Ships must also carry lists showing the dangerous goods carried and their location. A new Regulation 7-1 has been added making it mandatory for the loss overboard of dangerous goods to be reported to the nearest coastal State. Reference is made to an IMO resolution which outlines procedures for doing so. The April 1992 Amendments Measures to improve the damage stability of passenger ships came into force on 29 April 1990 and the April 1992 amendments to regulation 8 of Chapter II-1 mean that a slightly modified "SOLAS 90" standard will be phased in for ro-ro passenger ships built before that date during an 11- year period beginning on 1 October 1994. The phase- in period allowed depends upon the value of a ratio A/Amax, determined in accordance with a calculation procedure developed by the Maritime Safety Committee to assess the survivability characteristics of existing ro- ro passenger ships. Those with an A/Amax value of less than 70% for example, had to comply with the amendments by 1 October 1994, the date on which the amendments entered into force. The complete phase-in period and degree of compliance is shown below: Compliance A/Amax value Date Less than 70% 1 October 1994 70%-less than 75% 1 October 1996 75%- less than 85% 1 October 1998 85%- less than 90% 1 October 2000 90%- less than 95% 1 October 2005 The application of the modified SOLAS 90 standard to existing ships means that a large part of the world's ro-ro fleet will have to be altered. In some cases the changes could be extensive and the high cost involved could lead to some of them being scrapped and replaced with new tonnage. The improved fire safety measures for existing passenger ships which are introduced through amendments to Chapter II-2 include mandatory requirements for smoke detection and alarm and sprinkler systems in accommodation and service spaces, stairway enclosures and corridors. Other improvements involve the provision of emergency lighting, general emergency alarm systems and other means of communication. The new measures will be phased in between 1994 and 2000. The amendments are particularly important because they apply to existing ships. In the past, major changes to SOLAS have been restricted to new ships by so-called "grandfather clauses". The reason for this is that major changes involve expensive modifications to most ships. Because of the financial burden this imposes on the industry, IMO has in the past been reluctant to make such measures retroactive. On this occasion the MSC decided that the new stability and fire safety standards are so important that they should not be restricted to new ships. The Herald of Free Enterprise disaster of 1987 and the Scandinavian Star fire of 1988 respectively both influenced the Committee in making this decision. The December 1992 Amendments The amendments are concerned primarily with construction requirements for new tankers and fire safety standards for new passenger ships built on or after 1 October 1994, the date on which the amendments entered into force under the Convention's "tacit acceptance" provisions. The amendments dealing with tankers affect two regulations in Chapter II-1, which deals with construction. A new regulation 12-2 has been added which lays down requirements for access to spaces in the cargo area of oil tankers. A new requirement has also been added to regulation 37 dealing with communications between the navigation bridge and machinery spaces. Major changes have been made to the requirements of chapter II-2 dealing with fire protection of new passenger ships. Several regulations are affected, dealing with such matters as fire pump sizing, the release mechanism of carbon dioxide fire- extinguishing systems, the prohibition of new halon systems, and fixed fire- detection and fire-alarm systems. A new regulation 20-4 has been added making it mandatory for ships carrying more than 36 passengers to have plans providing information on fire safety measures. These are to be based on guidelines developed by IMO. Regulations dealing with the fire integrity of bulkheads and decks have been amended. Regulation 28 (means of escape) has been considerably altered: corridors from which there is only one route of escape will be prohibited on new ships. All means of escape must be marked by lighting or photoluminescent strip indicators placed not more than 0.3 m above the deck. The lighting must identify escape routes and escape exits. Requirements for fire doors (regulation 30) have been improved. Passenger ships carrying more than 36 passengers will have to be equipped with an automatic sprinkler, fire- detection and fire-alarm system. The amendments will make it mandatory for new passenger ships carrying more than 36 passengers to be fitted with fire-detection alarms centralized in a control station which must be continuously manned and from which it is possible to control the fire- detection system, fire doors, watertight doors, ventilation fans, alarms, communications system and the microphone to the public address system. Two codes which are mandatory under SOLAS and MARPOL were also amended. They are the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (IGC Code) and the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code), both of which apply to ships built after 1986 under the SOLAS Convention. The amendments entered into force on 1 July 1994. Other changes were made to the Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (BCH Code). This applies to ships built before 1986. The amendments also entered into force on 1 July 1994. The most important changes to the IBC Code are to Chapter 8 (cargo-tank venting and gas-freeing arrangements), Chapter 17 (summary of minimum requirements) and Chapter 18 (list of chemicals to which the Code does not apply). In each case the existing text is completely replaced. Many of the amendments made to the BCH Code are intended to keep it in line with the IBC Code. They include a new text of Chapter VI (summary of minimum requirements) and a new Chapter VIII dealing with the transport of liquid chemical wastes. Although some of the changes to the IGC Code are of an editorial nature, others are intended to ensure that it keeps pace with technical changes that have been made since it was adopted in 1983. The December 1994 amendments The amendments, which entered into force on 1 July 1996, affect a number of regulations in Chapters VI and VII and make mandatory parts of the Code of Safe Practice for Cargo Stowage and Securing. The May 1995 amendments The amendments replace regulation 8 of Chapter V with a new text. It recognizes IMO as the only Organization responsible for developing criteria for ship routeing systems and defines how this should be prepared and submitted. The amendment is expected to enter into force on 1 January 1997. The November 1995 amendments Major changes to international rules designed to improve the safety of roll on/roll off passenger ships were adopted by a conference held to consider proposals put forward by a Panel of Experts set up by IMO in December 1994 following the Estonia disaster of September 1994 in which more than 900 people were killed. The amendments are expected to enter into force under tacit acceptance on 1 July 1997. The most important changes were concerned with the stability of ro-ro passenger ships. The Estonia, like the Herald of Free Enterprise in 1987, sank because so much water built up on the cargo decks that stability was impaired and the ship capsized. The Conference agreed to significantly up-grade the damage stability requirements to be applied to all existing ro-ro passenger ships without incorporating the regional concept. A new regulation 8-1 of Chapter II-1 will mean that existing ro-ro passenger ships will have to fully comply with the SOLAS 90 standard that was adopted for new ships in 1988. Ships that only meet 85% of the standard will have to comply fully by 1 October 1998 and those meeting 97.5% or above by 1 October 2005. A new regulation 8-2 was also adopted which requires that ro-ro pasenger ships carrying 400 persons or more shall be designed to survive with two compartments flooded following damage. This regulation is also intended to phase out ships built to a one-compartment standard of subdivision which carry 400 persons or more. The Panel of Experts proposed that SOLAS be changed so that the SOLAS 90 standard can be met with an amount of water on the vehicle deck. This was not supported by sufficient number of countries and instead the conference adopted a resolution which permits regional arrangements to be agreed by contracting Governments on specific stability requirements for ro- ro passenger ships. These requirements include provisions that are designed to ensure that the SOLAS 90 stability standard can be achieved even with up to 50 cm of water on the vehicle deck. The conference also adopted amendments to several other chapters in the SOLAS Convention. The changes to Chapter III, which deals with life- saving appliances and arrangements, include the addition of a new section requiring ro-ro passenger ships to be fitted with public address systems, a new regulation providing improved requirements for life-saving appliances and arrangements and a requirement for all passenger ships to have full information on the details of passengers on board and requirements for the provision of a helicopter pick-up or landing area. The June 1996 amendments The amendments include the complete replacement of the existing text of Chapter III, which deals with life-saving appliances and arrangements. The amendments take into account changes in technology that have occurred since the chapter was last revised in 1983. Many of the technical requirements have been transferred to a new International Life-Saving Appliance (LSA) Code. This will apply to all ships built on or after 1 July 1998. Some of the amendments to Chapter III will apply to existing ships as well as new ones. Other amendments apply to Chapter II-1 (which has been re-named as Construction - Structure, sub- division and stability, machinery and electrical installations) and include a new part A-1 dealing with the structure of ships. A new regulation 3-1 requires that ships shall be designed, constructed and maintained in compliance with structural, mechanical and electrical requirements of a recognized classification society or with applicable national requirements by the Administration. A new regulation 3-2 deals with corrosion prevention of seawater ballast tanks and other amendments to chapter II-1 concern the stability of passenger and cargo ships in the damaged condition. Chapter VI (Carriage of cargoes) has also been amended. Regulation 7 has been replaced by a new text dealing with the loading, unloading and stowage of bulk cargoes. It is intended to ensure that no excessive stress is placed on the ship's structure during such operations. The ship must be provided with a booklet giving advice on cargo handling operations and the master and terminal representative must agree on a plan to ensure that loading and unloading is carried out safely. A change has also been made to Chapter XI dealing with the authorization of recognized organizations. The International Bulk Chemicals (IBC) and Bulk Chemicals (BCH) Code were also amended. The IBC Code is mandatory under SOLAS and applies to ships carrying dangerous chemicals in bulk that were built after 1 July 1986. The BCH is recommended and applies to ships built before that date. The December 1996 amendments The amendments concern three chapters of the Convention and the International Bulk Chemicals (IBC) Code and the International Gas Carrier (IGC) Code, both of which are mandatory under SOLAS. Changes to Chapter II-1 (Construction - Subdivision and Stability, Machinery and Electrical Installations) include requirements for emergency towing arrangements which have been transferred from Chapter V and arrangements for safe access to tanker bows. The amendments also include a new requirement for ships to be fitted with a system to ensure that the equipment necessary for propulsion and steering will be maintained or immediately restored in the case of loss of any one of the generators in service. Chapter II-2 (Construction - Fire Protection, Fire Detection and Fire Extinction) has been considerably modified, with changes being made to the general introduction, Part B (fire safety measures for passenger ships), Part C (fire safety measures for cargo ships) and Part D (fire safety measures for tankers). The Committee adopted a new International Code for the Application of Fire Test Procedures which has been made mandatory on or after 1 July 1998 under the revised Chapter II-2. It is intended to be used by Administrations when approving products for installation in ships flying their flag. Amendments have also been drafted to two regulations in Chapter VII (Carriage of Dangerous Goods). The future of SOLAS SOLAS will continue to evolve in the future as it has in the past. It is generally agreed, for example, that the whole of Chapter V on Safety of Navigation needs to be brought up to date, especially to take the human factor into account. Nevertheless, urgent amendments to the Chapter dealing with vessel traffic services have been been included in a package of amendments which will be considered by the Maritime Safety Committee in May- June 1997. A matter of great concern at the beginning of 1997 was the safety of bulk carriers. It was hoped that draft amendments would be ready for consideration by the MSC at its 68th session in May- June 1997, but it is now expected that they will not be adopted until November 1997. Although amendments to SOLAS will enter into force on 1 October 1997 and on 1 July 1998, it is expected that the rate of amendments will slow down in the next few years. While it is important to keep instruments such as SOLAS up to date, many countries have experienced difficulty in coping with the changes that have been made in recent years. In May 1991, therefore, the MSC agreed that future amendments would only enter into force once every four years. The normal date of entry into force (under tacit acceptance) would be on 1 July. Although the four-year rule will be the norm, the Committee agreed that IMO would be able to adopt amendments at shorter intervals in exceptional circumstances.

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