New IMO report available for British Marine Members to Download

Published on: 15 February 2023


Following the 9th session of the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction (SDC), held from the 23-27 January 2023, a full report is available to download from the British Marine website.

The key items of interest from this meeting were the following:

Safety measures for non-SOLAS ships operating in polar waters

Previously MSC 103 approved the Guidelines for pleasure yachts of 300 gross tonnage and above not engaged in trade operating in polar waters.These guidelines are recommendatory rather than mandatory. It was expected that the SDC Sub-Committee would begin work on guidelines for commercial yachts between 300 and 500 GT, however no papers were submitted to this or the previous session. Normally, when no two sessions pass without any submissions on an agenda item, that item is removed from the agenda. However, during the session there were a number of interventions from various environmental NGOs, including Friends of the Earth International, World Wide Fund for Nature and the Inuit Circumpolar Council in which they stated their aim to collect data on commercial yacht and small cargo vessels activity in polar waters with a view to submitting this information at a future session. The chairman concluded that this subject should remain on the post-biennial agenda subject to MSC approval.

FRPs in ships’ structures

CESA submitted document SDC 9/15/2 “Experience gained with larger FRP structures in ship construction” (attached). The paper draws attention to the EU RAMSSES project (Realisation and Demonstration of Advanced Material Solutions for Sustainable and Efficient Ships). 

The paper calls for a revision of the Interim guidelines for use of Fibre Reinforced Plastic (FRP) elements within ship structures: Fire safety issues (MSC.1/Circ.1574) (Interim Guidelines), which was adopted by MSC 98 in 2017. Specifically, CESA argues that the limitation to FRP elements in ships’ structures hampers the wider use of FRP which can provide significant benefits in the energy efficiency and climate friendliness of shipping.


After consideration, the Sub-Committee agreed to invite the Committee to lift the output ”Guidelines for use of Fibre Reinforced Plastics (FRP) within ship structures” from its post-biennial agenda to the 2024-2025 biennial agenda, as well as to place it on the provisional agenda of SDC 10.

Review of the 2014 Guidelines for the reduction of underwater noise from commercial shipping

As previously reported (SDC 8), the international community agrees that a significant amount of underwater noise generated by human activity is related to commercial shipping and this may have short and long-term negative consequences for marine life, especially marine mammals. 

The existing guidelines were amended intersessionally by correspondence group and were finalised at this session by the working group. The revised guidelines focus on the causes of underwater radiated noise (URN) generated by ships and the mitigation measures that shipbuilders, owners and operators may take.

In addition, new draft Guidelines for Underwater Radiated Noise Reduction in Inuit Nunaat (the Arctic homeland of the Inuit people in Northern Canada) and the Arctic have been developed for vessels transiting Inuit Nunaat and the Arctic.

It should be noted that, like all IMO guidelines, they are not mandatory. However, due to their comprehensive nature and the link to URN with vessel efficiency, there is concern among many delegations that there may be mandatory regulations governing URN in the future. With this in mind, the industry should study the guidelines and highlight any areas of concern.

Safe return to port – revision of explanatory notes

Work on revising the interim explanatory notes for the assessment of passenger ship capabilities after a fire or flooding casualty (MSC.1/Circ.1369) was commenced at this session. The “safe return to port” concept is based on the philosophy that a ship is its own best lifeboat. SOLAS Regulations were adopted in 2006 affecting passenger ships built after 1 July 2010. These regulations apply to yachts certified under the REG Yacht code Part B as unlimited passenger yachts carrying more than 120 persons.

The interim guidelines were issued in 2010 but due to advancements in technology, design and new fuel types the guidelines are in need of revision. A correspondence group was established to progress the work intersessionally.


Download the report

The full report can be downloaded from the British Marine website here – Publications | British Marine.