An overview of SOLAS 2020 Amendments

Several amendments of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) agreed in 2016, 2017 and 2018 are entering into force in less than three months, marking reforms to SOLAS and to international codes made mandatory under the SOLAS Convention.

The amendments entering into force from 1st January 2020 are:

-Amendments to requirements on subdivision and damage stability

Adopted: June 2017 (MSC 98)

IMO adopted a set of amendments to SOLAS chapter II-1 relating to subdivision and damage stability, following a substantive review of SOLAS chapter II-1 focusing particularly on new passenger ships. The review has taken into account recommendations arising from the investigation into the 2012 Costa Concordia incident.

The amendments aim to ensure increased capability for new passenger ships to remain stable in case of flooding after collision or grounding.

Unless otherwise provided, the amendments shall only apply to ships:

 for which the building contract is placed on or after 1 January 2020; or

 in the absence of a building contract, the keel of which is laid, or which are at a similar stage of construction on or after 1 July 2020; or

 the delivery of which is on or after 1 January 2024.

In conjunction with the adoption of the above, the MSC adopted the Revised Explanatory Notes to SOLAS chapter II-1 subdivision and damage stability regulations.

The MSC also approved the revised guidance for watertight doors on passenger ships which may be opened during navigation.

-Amendments on passenger ships safety

Adopted: May 2018 (MSC 99)

IMO has adopted amendments to SOLAS regulations II-1/1 and II-1/8-1, concerning computerized stability support for the master in case of flooding for existing passenger ships.

“For the purpose of providing operational information to the master for safe return to port after a flooding casualty, passenger ships shall have:

 an on board stability computer; or

safe return to port after a flooding casualty, passenger ships shall have:

 an onboard stability computer; or

shore-based support, based on the guidelines developed by the Organization.”

-Amendments on damage control drills

Adopted: June 2017 (MSC 98)

Starting from January, amendments to SOLAS regulations III/1.4, III/30 and III/37 on damage control drills for passenger ships will require damage control drills to take place on all passenger ships every three months from 2020. 

-Definition of vehicle carrier and requirements for vehicle space

Adopted: November 2016 (MSC 97)

The amendments to SOLAS regulation II-2/3.56 relate to the definition of vehicle carrier and draft new SOLAS regulation II-2/20.2 on fire safety requirements for cargo spaces containing vehicles with fuel in their tanks for their own propulsion, specifically vehicles which do not use their own propulsion within the cargo space.

The MSC 97 considered the decisions of the Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment that only “pure car and truck carriers” needed to comply with SOLAS regulation II-2/20-1 and that the definition provided in SOLAS regulation II-2/3.56 should be amended accordingly, taking into account a proposal by Antigua and Barbuda, Germany, Norway and IACS.

-Fire integrity of windows for ships carrying not more than 36 passengers

Adopted: June 2017 (MSC 98)

The amendments to SOLAS regulation II-2/ seek to clarify the requirements for fire integrity of windows on passenger ships carrying not more than 36 passengers and on special purpose ships with more than 60 (but no more than 240) persons onboard.

Harmonization of survey periods of cargo ships not subject to the ESP Code

Adopted: November 2016 (MSC 97)

The harmonized system under regulation XI-1/2-1 provides for a one-year standard interval between surveys, based on initial, annual, intermediate, periodical and renewal surveys, except for MARPOL Annex IV, which is based on initial and renewal surveys. It also provides for a maximum period of validity of five years for all cargo ship certificates, as well as a maximum period of validity of 12 months for the Passenger Ship Safety Certificate.

-Amendments to the (FSS Code)

Adopted: November 2016 (MSC 97)

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