What are the major amendments to SOLAS which have entered into force in 2014?

1 January  2014: Entry into force of May 2012 SOLAS amendments .

  1. Amendment to SOLAS regulation II-1/8-1, to introduce a mandatory requirement for new passenger ships for either onboard stability computers or shore-based support, for the purpose of providing operational information to the Master for safe return to port after a flooding casualty;
  2. Amendment to SOLAS regulation III/20.11.2 regarding the testing of free-fall lifeboats, to require that the operational testing of free-fall lifeboat release systems shall be performed either by free-fall launch with only the operating crew on board or by a simulated launching;
  3. Amendment to SOLAS chapter V to add a new regulation V/14 on ships’ manning, to require Administrations, for every ship, to establish appropriate minimum safe manning levels following a transparent procedure, taking into account the guidance adopted by IMO (Assembly resolution A.1047(27) on Principles of minimum safe manning); and issue an appropriate minimum safe manning document or equivalent as evidence of the minimum safe manning considered necessary; 
  4. Amendment to SOLAS chapter VI to add a new regulation VI/5-2, to prohibit the blending of bulk liquid cargoes during the sea voyage and to prohibit production processes on board ships;
  5. Amendment to SOLAS chapter VII to replace regulation 4 on documents, covering transport information relating to the carriage of dangerous goods in packaged form and the container/vehicle packing certificate; and
  6. Amendment to SOLAS regulation XI-1/2 on enhanced surveys, to make mandatory the International Code on the Enhanced Programme of Inspections during Surveys of Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers, 2011 (2011 ESP Code, resolution A.1049(27)).

1 July 2014: Entry into force of November 2012 SOLAS amendments.

  1. Reducing on-board noise:- entering into force on 1 July 2014 is the new SOLAS regulation II-1/3-12,which requires new ships to be constructed to reduce on-board noise and to protect personnel from noise, in accordance with the revised Code on noise levels on board ships, which sets out mandatory maximum noise level limits for machinery spaces, control rooms, workshops, accommodation and other spaces on board ships.
  2. Recovery of persons from the water :- Amendments to SOLAS regulationIII/17-1 to        require ships to have plans and procedures to recover persons from the water, as well as related Guidelines for development of plans and procedures for recovery of persons from the water. Also, a related MSC resolution on Implementation of SOLAS regulation III/17-1 to ships to which SOLAS chapter III does not apply;
  3. Fire-fighter communication on-board:- Amendments to SOLAS regulation II-2/10 on fire fighting enter into force on 1 July 2014, to require a minimum of two two-way   portable radiotelephone apparatus for each fire party for fire fighters’ communication to be carried. The apparatus shall be of an explosion-proof type or intrinsically safe. Ships constructed before 1 July 2014 shall comply with the above requirements not later than the first survey after 1 July 2018.
  4. Instructions, on-board training and drills:- Amendments to regulation II-2/15 on instructions, on-board training and drills require an on-board means of recharging breathing apparatus cylinders used during drills, or a suitable number of spare cylinders.
  5. Protection of vehicle, special category and ro-ro spaces ,Another amendment to regulation II-2/20 on protection of vehicle, special category and ro-ro spaces related to fixed fire-extinguishing systems, updates the requirements.  The amendments apply to ships constructed on or after 1 July 2014. Ships constructed before 1 July 2014 shall comply with the previously applicable requirements.
  6. Forms of certificates and records of equipment:-Other amendments to the appendix to the annex to the SOLAS Convention replace all forms of certificates and records of equipment, including its 1988 Protocol, and further amendments relate to the forms of the Cargo Ship Safety Construction Certificate and Cargo Ship Safety Equipment Certificate of its 1978 Protocol.
Five discuss
  1. Recovery of persons from the water

The SOLAS amendments, adopted in 2012, were developed as part of the International Maritime Organization (IMO)’s work on large passenger ship safety and are aimed at ensuring all ships have the capability to effectively serve as a rescue asset and have the right equipment to be able to rescue persons from the water and from survival craft, in the event of an incident.
This new requirement is intended to enhance safety at sea and also to provide support to search and rescue coordinators in all types of rescue operations and, particularly, in those situations where there is insufficient dedicated search and rescue capacity or access to helicopters and specialized rescue craft is limited.
The ship’s plans and procedures should take into account related Guidelines for the development of plans and procedures for recovery of persons from the water (MSC.1/Circ.1447). Ships constructed before 1 July 2014 are required to comply with the requirement by the first periodical or renewal safety equipment survey of the ship to be carried out after 1 July 2014,whichever comes first.
The implementation of the requirements on ships to which SOLAS does not apply is encouraged under a related MSC resolution, also adopted in 2012,  which invites SOLAS Contracting Governments to determine to what extent the requirements should apply to: cargo ships of a gross tonnage below 500 engaged on any voyage; cargo ships of a gross tonnage of 500 and above not engaged on international voyages; passenger ships not engaged on international voyages; fishing vessels; high-speed craft; dynamically supported craft; special purpose ships; and mobile offshore drilling units.
For seafarers, IMO has issued A Pocket Guide to Recovery Techniques (IMO I947E).

  1. Reducing on-board noise

Entering into force on 1 July 2014 is the new SOLAS regulation II-1/3-12, which requires new ships to be constructed to reduce on-board noise and to protect personnel from noise, in accordance with the revised Code on noise levels on board ships, which sets out mandatory maximum noise level limits for machinery spaces, control rooms, workshops, accommodation and other spaces on board ships.
The limits specified in this section shall be regarded as maximum levels and not as desirable levels. Where reasonably practicable, it is desirable for the noise level to be lower than the maximum levels specified. The Code is intended to provide standards to prevent the occurrence of potentially hazardous noise levels on board ships and to provide standards for an acceptable environment for seafarers.
These standards were developed to address passenger and cargo ships. Since some sizes and certain service types of ships have been exempted from these requirements, it should be recognised that full application of the Code to ships that differ appreciably from conventional ships will require special considerations.
The Code is intended to provide the basis for a design standard, with compliance based on the satisfactory conclusion of sea trials that result in issuance of a Noise Survey Report. Ongoing operational compliance is predicated on the crew being trained in the principles of pesonal protection and maintenance of mitigation measures.

  1. SOLAS Regulation II-1/8-1

SOLAS Regulation II-1/8-1 has been amended and will require operational information to be provided to the master after a flooding casualty to assist with decisions regarding safe return to port.
The new requirement applies to passenger vessels over 120m in length or with three or more main vertical zones, constructed on or after 1 January, 2014. The operational information can be provided by onboard stability computers or through shore-based support arrangements, as follows.

Onboard stability computers:-
If the ship is complying with the regulation using onboard stability computers, the following requirements apply:

  1. At least two independent stability computers capable of processing the data and providing the necessary information should be installed on board.
  2. The computers must be approved in accordance with the guidelines .
  3. The computers should have an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) connected to both main and emergency switchboards.
  4. At least two crew members should be competent in operating the computers and  capable of interpreting the output in order to provide the required information.

Shore-based support

As an alternative to onboard stability computers, shipowners can arrange shore-based  support which provides prompt access to computerised damage stability and residual structural strength calculation programs. Shore-based support should be operational within one hour; whereby operational means the ability to input details of the conditions of the ship as instructed. Shore-based support should be manned by adequately qualified persons with regard to stability and ship strength; no less than two qualified persons should be available to be on call at all times.

  1. SOLAS Regulation VI/5-2

According to the SOLAS Regulation VI/5-2, the blending of all MARPOL liquid cargoes during sea voyages is prohibited. Physical blending refers to the process whereby the ship’s cargo pumps and pipelines are used to internally circulate two or more different cargoes with the intent to achieve a cargo with a new product designation. Regulation VI/5-2 was adopted by the International Maritime Organisation at the 90th session of the Maritime Safety Committee through Resolution MSC.325(90)
This prohibition does not apply:

  1. When cargo transfers are undertaken for the safety of the ship and crew or protection of the marine environment;
  2. To the blending of products for use in the search and exploitation of seabed mineral resources on board ships used to facilitate such operations (e.g. offshore vessels).
  3. The regulation prohibits production processes on board ships during sea voyages. Production processes refer to any deliberate operation whereby a chemical reaction between a ship’s cargo and any other substance or cargo takes place.
  4. This prohibition does not apply to the production processes of cargoes for use in the search and exploitation of seabed mineral resources on board ships used to facilitate such operations (e.g. offshore vessels).
  5. Fire-fighter communication on-board:-Amendments to SOLAS regulation II-2/10 on fire fighting enter into force on 1 July 2014, to require a minimum of two two-way portable radiotelephone apparatus for each fire party for fire fighters’ communication to be carried. The apparatus shall be of an explosion-proof type or intrinsically safe. Ships constructed before 1 July 2014 shall comply with the above requirements not later than the first survey after 1 July 2018.
  1. Fire-fighter communication on-board

Amendments to SOLAS regulation II-2/10 on fire fighting enter into force on 1 July 2014, to require a minimum of two two-way portable radiotelephone apparatus for each fire party for fire fighters’ communication to be carried. The apparatus shall be of an explosion-proof type or intrinsically safe. Ships constructed before 1 July 2014 shall comply with the above requirements not later than the first survey after 1 July 2018. 

Related Searches
  1. What are the major amendments to SOLAS which have entered into force in 2015?

About the author

Amit Sharma

Graduated from M.E.R.I. Mumbai (Mumbai University), After a brief sailing founded this website with the idea to bring the maritime education online which must be free and available for all at all times and to find basic solutions that are of extreme importance to a seafarer by our innovative ideas.