SOLAS 2020 updates

28 November, 2019

SOLAS 2020 Updates

In 2014, IMO (International Intergovernmental Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations) agreed that the amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) that are in force should follow a four-year cycle. The first date is January 1, 2020, when the amendments adopted in 2016, 2017 and 2018 come into force. This official news highlights major changes to SOLAS and to codes that have become mandatory under the SOLAS Convention.


Division and stability

The main amendments to the convention are to increase the requirement for the stability of a passenger vessel in a damaged state in the event of flooding of its compartments caused by a collision with another object. The amendments increase the “required R index”, the survivability requirement for a vessel in case of damage. The requirement is based on the methodology for calculating the probabilistic stability of a damaged ship for passenger ships, which was developed as part of the EU-funded research project HARDER and approved in amendments to the SOLAS Convention 2009 for cargo and passenger ships; lessons learned from the 2012 Costa Concordia accident.

Major passenger ship upgrades include:

  • Improved survivability - Increased ability of new passenger ships to remain stable and afloat in the event of flooding after a collision or landing. More stringent Ro-Ro passenger ship requirements to withstand flooding of large open vehicles.
  • Emergency information - updated stability information that will be available to the captain after flooding, including for passenger ships built before 2014, either using on-board computers to ensure stability, or with coastal support.
  • Damage Control Exercises - Damage control exercises shall be conducted every three months on all passenger ships.

Fire safety

2020 updates to SOLAS Ch. II-2 require that helicopter landing sites on cargo and passenger ships be equipped with foam fire extinguishing means, as well as for special helipads.

Fire safety requirements for “ordinary” packages (not vehicles) used to transport vehicles with fuel in their tanks for their own traction are further specified and agreed with the requirements for the transport of dangerous goods.

The fire protection of windows facing rescue stations, landing and assembly points on passenger ships is being specified, which actually weakens the A-0 requirement for ships carrying no more than 36 passengers.

Rescue equipment

2020 updates to SOLAS Ch. III requires authorized service providers to conduct a thorough inspection, performance testing, repair, and overhaul of lifeboats, lifeboats, launching devices, and launching gear. The goal is to prevent injuries to crew participating in exercises and inspections of lifeboats and lifeboats and to ensure a level of quality of service.

Radio communication

SOLAS Ch. IV was amended to refer to the common mobile satellite system instead of Inmarsat.


Fire Safety Code (FSS)

The new chapter 17 details the requirements for foam fire fighting equipment for helicopter installations.

Water quality for sprinkler systems aims to prevent  internal corrosion of sprinklers and clogging.

Hazardous chemicals in bulk (IBC, code BCH), liquefied gases in bulk (CG, code BCH)

Chemical tanks and gas carriers must be equipped with an approved stability instrument capable of checking compliance with the requirements for integrity.

Gas Vessels (IGF Code)

The fire safety requirement for wheelhouse windows on gas-powered vessels complies with the requirements for ships transporting gases in bulk (IGC Code), which effectively eliminates the requirement for A-0 class windows.

High Speed ​​Ship Code (HSC) 1994 and 2000

Small high-speed vessels may be exempted from the transport of a rescue boat.

Life Saving Device Code (LSA)

The safety factor for winch structural elements used in connection with starting devices corresponds to the safety factor of other structural elements for hoisting devices.

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