New ship construction rules for oil tankers and bulk carriers submitted by 12 classification societies have been accepted by IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) as aligned to the goals and functional requirements set by the organisation for new oil tankers and bulk carriers.

The new goal-based standards will see that ships are designed and constructed for a specified design life, and ensure that if properly operated and maintained, these ships should remain safe and environmentally friendly throughout their intended lifespan.

A team of experts nominated by IMO Member States submitted the audit reports on behalf of 12 Recognised Organisations (ROs) which are members of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), reviewed by MSC.

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said that the verification process was a significant step for IMO, since until now there had been no direct oversight by IMO of the classification societies’ structural rules.

"The completion of this process of developing goal-based standards for oil tankers and bulk carriers, followed by the detailed verification audit process, means that we now have a much closer alignment between the classification societies’ rules and the IMO regulatory process," said Kim.

Safe and environmentally friendly conditions are said to be achieved when ships are built with an adequate strength, integrity and stability to reduce risk of loss of the ship or pollution to the marine environment due to structural failure, including collapse, resulting in flooding or loss of watertight integrity.

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By GlobalData
"Until now there had been no direct oversight by IMO of the classification societies’ structural rules."

It also includes adopting construction materials for ship which is acceptable for environment-friendly recycling.

Safety applies to the ship’s structure, fittings and arrangements providing for safe access, escape, inspection, proper maintenance and other aspects facilitating safe operation.

The ship’s specified operating and environmental conditions will be characterised by the its intended operating area throughout its life and cover the conditions, including intermediate conditions, arising from cargo and ballast operations in port, waterways and at sea.

Specified design life is defined by the nominal period that the ship will be operational in various operating, environmental conditions and corrosive environment and is used for selecting appropriate ship design parameters.

However, the ship’s actual service life may be longer or shorter depending on the actual operating conditions and maintenance of the ship throughout its life.

Functional requirement II.1 on Design life states that the ‘specified design life shall not be less than 25 years’.

Another example of a functional requirement is: II.14 Structural accessibility: "The ship shall be designed, constructed and equipped to provide adequate means of access to all internal structures to facilitate overall and close-up inspections and thickness measurements."

Image: IMO’s MSC ratifies the 12 ROs’ ship construction rules for bulk carriers and oil tankers. Photo: courtesy of DNV GL.