IMO Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE 8)

The 8th session of the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE 8) was held remotely from 28 February to 4 March. SSE 8 finalized draft new ventilation requirements for lifeboats and liferafts, and draft new guidelines for the design, construction, installation, testing, maintenance and operation of lifting appliances and anchor handling winches. Good progress was made on the new mandatory requirements to minimize the incidence and consequences of fires on ro-ro passenger ships, and on the work to improve the safety of commercial diving operations.

IMO sub committee on ship systems

Relevant for shipowners, managers, seafarers, maritime training institutes and flag states

Meeting highlights

  • Finalized draft new ventilation requirements for lifeboats and life rafts, together with associated test provisions
  • Finalized draft guidelines for lifting appliances
  • Finalized draft guidelines for anchor handling winches
  • Finalized draft performance-based provisions for dry chemical powders used in fire-extinguishing systems on gas carriers
  • Finalized draft amendments to SOLAS and the HSC Codes to prohibit the use of PFOS in firefighting foams

Life-saving appliances

Ventilation of survival craft
SSE 8 finalized draft new ventilation requirements for survival craft to reduce the risk of high CO2 concentrations inside the craft.

The amendments to the Life-Saving Appliances (LSA) Code require totally enclosed lifeboats to be provided with means to achieve a ventilation rate of at least 5 m3/hr/person. The long-term CO2 concentration inside partially enclosed lifeboats and life rafts shall be below 5000 ppm. These amendments were agreed by SSE 7 in 2020.

The amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2026 and will be applied to survival craft installed on or after 1 January 2029, subject to approval by MSC 106 and adoption by MSC 107

SSE 8 also finalized draft amendments to the “Revised recommendations on testing of life-saving appliances” (MSC.81(70)) to address testing with respect to the new provisions (CO2 less than 5000 ppm) for partially enclosed lifeboats and life rafts. The testing provisions for totally enclosed lifeboats were finalized by SSE 7 in 2020.

Life-saving appliances in polar waters
The Polar Code stipulates that the maximum expected time of rescue should never be less than five days. Recognizing that there could be circumstances in polar waters where the rescue times may exceed five days, SSE 8 considered an operational methodology for estimating exposure times in polar waters.

SSE 8 agreed to include the operational methodology in the “Interim guidelines on life-saving appliances and arrangements for ships operating in polar waters” (MSC.1/Circ.1614).

A correspondence group on life-saving appliances will progress the consideration of:

  • LSA evaluation and test report forms for survival craft
  • In-water performance of lifejackets

A physical expert group meeting will progress the revision of SOLAS Chapter III and the LSA Code to a goal-based format, subject to approval by MSC 105 (April 2022).

Fire safety

Fire safety on ro-ro passenger ships
SSE 8 progressed draft amendments to SOLAS Chapter II-2 to address the several serious fire incidents that have occurred on vehicle decks on ro-ro passenger ships over the past decade.

SSE 8 agreed to a set of draft amendments for new ships, including:

  • Heat detectors and video monitoring
  • Specification of structural fire protection of decks within ro-ro spaces when the deluge system cannot cover both levels
  • Fire detection and water monitors for weather decks
  • Decision support procedure

SSE 8 also agreed to draft new SOLAS requirements for existing ro-ro passenger ships, which includes requirements for new heat detectors and video monitoring on ro-ro decks

Amendments to the Fire Safety Systems (FSS) Code’s Chapter 7 were agreed to address the new draft requirements for fixed water-based fire-extinguishing systems on weather decks, and to Chapter 9 to address the new draft requirement for both smoke and heat detectors for vehicle spaces.

The draft amendments are targeted to enter into force on 1 January 2026, with 1 January 2028 as the implementation date for existing ships, pending finalization at SSE 9 (March 2023) and subsequent approval and adoption by the MSC.

A correspondence group will continue the work until SSE 9. This group will consider the following topics related to fire safety on ro-ro decks:

  • Openings of ro-ro spaces and weather deck arrangement
  • Interpretation of the term “free height” in IMO MSC.1/Circ.1430
  • Development of requirements for heat linear detection systems

Dry chemical powder fire-extinguishing systems
The IGC Code requires ships carrying liquified gases in bulk to be fitted with a fixed dry chemical powder fire-extinguishing system. The “Guidelines for the approval of fixed dry chemical powder fireextinguishing systems for the protection of ships carrying liquefied gases in bulk” (MSC.1/Circ.1315) permits potassium bicarbonate powders only, although various mixtures of sodium bicarbonate powders and potassium bicarbonate powders are in use in practice.

SSE 8 agreed to amend MSC.1/Circ.1315 to performance-based provisions, lifting the prescriptive ban on the use of sodium bicarbonate powders

Prohibition of PFOS in firefighting foams
SSE 8 finalized draft amendments to SOLAS chapter II-2 and the HSC Codes (1994 and 2000) to prohibit the use of fire-fighting foams containing the harmful substance perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS).

It is important to note that existing ships constructed before 1 January 2026 shall comply with the new requirement no later than the date of the first survey after 1 January 2026. The prohibition will also be applicable to new ships constructed on or after 1 January 2026.

A new module will be established in the IMO’s online information database GISIS to make information about PFOS reception facilities available to all stakeholders.

Lifting appliances and anchor-handling winches

A new SOLAS Regulation II-1/3-13, approved by MSC 102 in 2020, requires applicable on-board lifting appliances and anchor-handling winches to be designed, constructed and installed in accordance with classification rules or equivalent rules acceptable to the administration. The intention is to prevent mechanical failure that has regularly caused injuries, fatalities and ship damages

SSE 8 finalized the associated draft guidelines for lifting appliances and the draft guidelines for anchor handling winches on board ships used for anchor handling operations.

The new regulation will enter into force on 1 January 2026, with retroactive application, subject to adoption by MSC 106 (November 2022).

Validated model training courses

The IMO’s model courses are intended to assist course providers in developing training programmes which are consistent with the requirements of IMO instruments. The model courses are subject to regular review and validation.

SSE 8 initiated a revision of model course 3.03 on “Survey of Machinery Installations”, with a view to validation of the revision at SSE 9 (March 2023).

Diving systems and hyperbaric evacuation

The non-mandatory Code of Safety for Diving Systems, 1995, provides international standards for the design, construction and survey of commercial diving systems. The purpose is to enhance the safety of divers/personnel, but also to facilitate the international movement and operation of diving systems

SSE 8 progressed the revision of the Code and the “Guidelines and specifications for hyperbaric evacuation systems” (Resolution A.692(17)) to align with industry guidelines and the regulatory movement over the past 25 years

The work will continue in a correspondence group until SSE 9 (March 2023).

Unified interpretations

Fire dampers and ventilation duct penetrations
SSE 8 agreed on a draft unified interpretation of SOLAS Regulation II2/ to clarify that the fire insulation should be provided only to the part of the duct and/or sleeve that is on the same side of the division being fire-insulated.

SSE 8 agreed on a draft unified interpretation of SOLAS Regulation II2/ to clarify that no clearance should be allowed between the duct and the division when a duct is passing through “B” class divisions.


As SSE is a sub-committee, all decisions concerning rules, regulations and dates are subject to further consideration and approval by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC). DNV recommends that our customers monitor the outcome of MSC 106 in November 2022 and MSC 107 in June 2023.


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