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Amendments to SOLAS2020 reflect 20-year industry cooperation for greater safety

IMO’s Marine Safety Committee (MSC) adopted amendments to SOLAS2020 that raise the damage stability requirements for passenger vessels in the event of flooding caused by a collision.

These changes used as a basis a series of EU and EMSA funded cooperative research projects conducted by academics, shipyards, ship operators, owners, classification societies and ship design consultants over several decades.
“To their great credit, the funding and support provided by the EU and EMSA have enabled a research effort into safety that would otherwise not have been possible,” says Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of DNV GL – Maritime. “This has resulted in a significant reduction of risk in the future transport of passengers at sea.”
The amendments raise the ‘required index R’, the damage stability requirement representing the ship’s capability to remain stable and afloat in the event of flooding after a collision. The requirement is based on a probabilistic damage stability methodology for passenger ships that was developed in the partially EU funded research project HARDER and mandated in SOLAS2009.
“The EMSA III study brought together industry experts from throughout the passenger, RoRo and cruise ship sectors. Following the principles of the IMO Formal Safety Assessment (FSA), their expertise produced reliable and cost-efficient recommendations. The study became a reference point from which the experts at IMO agreed a compromise solution on this very important subject,” explains Markku Mylly, EMSA’s Executive Director.
Since 1995, new IMO regulations must pass a Formal Safety Assessment (FSA) before adoption. This risk-based approach ensures that new regulations are transparent, fact-based, and raise safety cost-effectively. In the partially EU funded research project SAFEDOR, FSAs were developed for several ship types and submitted to IMO. The results indicated that damage stability requirements could be raised cost-effectively for both RoPax and cruise ships.
“Damage stability requirements are perhaps one of the most extensively researched subjects using FSA,” says Rolf Skjong, Chief Scientist at DNV GL – Maritime. “DNV GL has participated in and coordinated several of these early projects and it is very encouraging to see that the rationale in the FSA process helps to improve safety. The adoption of the new requirements marks the implementation of 20 years of research from many stakeholders working cooperatively to make our industry safer.”
Research continued with the EMSA I and EMSA II studies which demonstrated that the required index R should be raised, particularly for RoRo vessels and the partially EU funded research project GOALDS. GOALDS carried out FSA cost benefit assessments of both cruise and RoPax ships and recommended that the index R be raised significantly from the existing SOLAS2009 requirements.
EMSA III, the third EMSA initiated passenger ship safety study, was coordinated by DNV GL and brought together a broad range of stakeholders, including shipyards, cruise and ferry operators and universities. The most notable result was a recommendation on the required index R level that became the basis for the final requirement adopted at MSC98.     
“I am very pleased to see that the work carried out at EMSA III has played an important part in the development of the new SOLAS Amendment,” says Odd Olufsen, Project Manager for the EMSA III studies at DNV GL – Maritime. “The investment made by EMSA has paid off by showing that bringing together a broad range of partners to share their knowledge and perspectives can result in a fruitful cooperation where we can make significant safety improvements cost effectively.”
Image: IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), 98th session. Image care of IMO

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