A growing offshore renewable energy sector (e.g. wind farms) has increased demand for ships which may combine transportation and accommodation of industrial personnel working offshore.
There are currently no international regulations for cargo ships carrying more than 12 personnel who are not engaged on board. Today, ships carrying more than 12 persons, not engaged on board, would be considered passenger ships under the SOLAS Convention. The non-mandatory SPS Code has, however, frequently been accepted by flag administrations for such vessels, instead of full passenger ship compliance, although the SPS Code is explicitly not intended to enable carrying persons not working on board. Furthermore, the SPS Code is not accepted by all flag administrations. These regulatory gaps have resulted in inconsistent application of requirements by the various flag administrations, and a confusing compliance regime for shipowners and operators.
The IMO has developed a new SOLAS Chapter XV and a related mandatory new IP Code for the carriage of more than 12 industrial personnel on cargo ships and high-speed cargo craft. The IP Code will intentionally fill and clarify the regulatory gap between SOLAS cargo ships and SOLAS passenger ships.
The new SOLAS Chapter XV and the IP Code were adopted in November 2022, and are entering into force on 1 July 2024.