Keeping A Step Ahead


Like the rest of the world, those organisations involved in policy and regulation formation have also suffered some disruption and delay whilst people adjust to a new way of working, however this does not mean work has stopped. Like us, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) have also been carrying out remote meetings, with the latest Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) meeting in May 2021 and Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) meeting in June. With many SOLAS amendments coming into force in January 2020, the IMO regulations update is now in mid cycle, and with a typical duration of around 4 years there is plenty to look out for on the horizon.

One item to keep an eye on is the amendments to SOLAS Regulation II-1/3-8 due to be implemented on vessels built from 2024. This applies to mooring and towing arrangements on vessels over 3000 Gross Tons (GT) and is aimed at increasing safety of operations. It is not clear yet how this will be applied to yachts, but the wording of the amendments implies a “hands off” approach to mooring operations. This could have the potential to be quite onerous for deck arrangements on yachts if captive winches are required, rather than the current standard capstans and bollards.

Lateral's naval architects and engineers have been following closely the developments on the 2nd Generation Intact Stability Criteria. Here the IMO have been developing a new approach to stability, with particular focus on the dynamic behaviour of ships at sea. It is understood by Lateral that this new criteria will be introduced initially as guideline requirements, and not mandatory. It is not clear yet whether there will be any significant impact but the subject has been the focus of research and development at Lateral to ensure we are ready as we get closer to the IMO approval of the interim guidelines.

Maritime Safety Committee 103 has now approved guidelines for yachts above 300 GT not engaged in trade operating in polar waters. Previously the IMO Polar Code covered yachts over 500 GT, with the new guidelines covering yachts between 300 and 500 GT, and outline recommendations for mitigating hazards such as icing, low temperatures, darkness, high latitudes, and delays in emergency response.

Those who keep a close eye on regulations will have also seen that the Cayman Islands have been busy maintaining the Red Ensign Group (REG) yacht codes. Since the publication of the new codes in January 2019 they have issued two corrigenda’s, one in 2019 and the latest in December 2020. These contain updates and modifications to the codes, and it is important to be aware of these and their contents.

One area of the REG Codes which has been of particular interest to Lateral is for large Part A yachts over 5000 GT. In this case the code currently requires single crew cabins in line with MLC 2006. From investigations carried out by Lateral, it is difficult to achieve satisfactory single crew cabin arrangements on a yacht of this size, with twin cabins providing both better living standards and substantial equivalence. Via our active involvement in various industry working groups, we are lobbying for twin cabin arrangements in future updates of the code.

Alex Meredith Hardy

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