Updates to the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code, to include new definitions (including an updated definition for group A cargoes), references and requirements for cargoes which may undergo dynamic separation. Section 7 will be amended to cover cargoes that may liquefy or undergo dynamic separation.
The section aims to bring attention to the risks associated with liquefaction or dynamic separation and the precautions to minimize the risk. This follows research by the Global Bauxite Working Group, which identified a new phenomenon affecting some bauxite cargoes, known as dynamic separation, which can cause instability of cargo and ship.
Other IMSBC Code amendments relate to updates to individual schedules and new individual schedules. Contracting Governments to the SOLAS Convention are invited to apply them from 1 January 2023 on a voluntary basis.
1 January 2024 - SOLAS Chapter IV amendments
Modernisation of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS)
Adopted by MSC 105
The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), adopted in 1988, has been subject to review and modernisation with the aim to adapt to modern communication systems and remove carriage requirements for obsolete systems.
MSC 105 adopted SOLAS amendments to modernize the GMDSS requirements, as well as consequential amendments to the High-Speed Craft (HSC), Special Purpose Ships (SPS) and Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODU) Codes.
The modernisation implies, inter alia, more generic requirements, independent of specific service providers, and amended equipment requirements for sea areas A1 to A4. The provisions for communication equipment have been moved from SOLAS Chapter III on life-saving appliances to Chapter IV on radio communications, and references to outdated resolutions and circulars will be replaced.
1 January 2024 - SOLAS records of equipment, FSS code, IGF code, LSA code
Adopted by MSC 101
Amendments to the appendix to the annex to the 1974 SOLAS, concerning the addition of a footnote to Forms C, E and P in the Records of Equipment. Amendments to chapter 15 of the International Code for Fire Safety Systems (FSS Code), relating to inert gas systems.
Amendments to parts A and A-1 of the International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other Low-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code), including those relating to regulations on loading limit for liquefied gas fuel tanks, regulations for fuel distribution outside of machinery space, regulations for internal combustion engines of piston type and fire protection for fuel storage hold space; and amendments relating to the protection of the fuel supply for liquefied gas fuel tanks, aimed at preventing explosions.
Amendments to chapters IV and VI of the International Life-Saving Appliance Code (LSA Code), relating to general requirements for lifeboats and launching and embarkation appliances.
1 January 2024 - SOLAS Chapter II-1 - Towing and mooring equipment
Adopted by MSC 102
Amendments to chapter II-1 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), related to towing and mooring. The amendments to SOLAS regulation II-1/3-8 (Towing and mooring equipment), require appropriate and safe-to-use designs of mooring arrangements, and introduce a maintenance and inspection regime, as well as proper documentation.
Related guidelines were also adopted, covering the design of mooring arrangements and the selection of appropriate mooring equipment and fittings for safe mooring; and inspection and maintenance of mooring equipment including lines; as well as revised guidance on shipboard towing and mooring equipment. Amendments to parts B-1, B-2 and B-4 of SOLAS chapter II-1 related to watertight integrity requirements.
The amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2024. Amendments to the International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other Low-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code), related to the fuel containment systems, fire safety, welding of metallic materials and non-destructive testing.
Amendments to the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (IGC Code), related to welding procedure tests for cargo tanks and process pressure vessels.
1 January 2024 – SOLAS Chapter II-1 - Water level detectors on multiple hold cargo ships other than bulk carriers and tankers
Adopted by MSC 103
New SOLAS regulation II-1/25-1, requiring water level detectors on multiple hold cargo ships other than bulk carriers and tankers.
1 January 2024 - SOLAS Chapter III - Survival craft embarkation and launching arrangements
Amendments to SOLAS regulation III/33 and the LSA Code, aiming to remove the applicability of the requirements to launch free-fall lifeboats to test their strength with the ship making headway at speeds up to 5 knots in calm water on cargo ships of 20,000 GT and above.
1 January 2024 - FSS Code Chapter 9 - Fixed fire detection and fire alarm systems
Chapter 9 of the International Code for Fire Safety Systems (FSS Code), relating to fault isolation requirements for individually identifiable fire detector systems installed, in lieu of section identifiable fire detector systems on cargo ships and passenger ship cabin balconies; and clarifying the acceptability of less complex and costly section identifiable fault isolation for individually identifiable fire detector systems on cabin balconies; and clarifying the acceptability of less complex and costly section identifiable fault isolation for individually identifiable fire detector systems.
1 January 2024 - Revised Annexes to the International Convention on Load Lines
Adopted by MSC 104
A minor amendment to chapter II (Conditions of assignment of freeboard), as well as amendments to chapter III (Freeboards) of annex I (Regulations for determining load lines) of Annex B to the 1988 Load Lines Protocol, concerning watertight doors on cargo ships, and associated amendments concerning watertight doors on cargo ships to chapter 2 (Ship survival capability and location of cargo tanks) of the International Code of the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (IGC Code).
1 January 2024 – IMDG Code
Adopted by MSC 105
Updates to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code, in line with the updates to the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, which set the recommendations for all transport modes. Contracting Governments to the SOLAS Convention are invited to apply the amendments from 1 January 2023 on a voluntary basis.
1 January 2024 - Revised FAL Convention
Adopted by FAL 46
Amendments to the Facilitation (FAL) Convention which will make the single window for data exchange mandatory in ports around the world, marking a significant step in the acceleration of digitalization in shipping. Other amendments adopted include lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and add new and amended Recommended Practices to prevent corruption and illicit activities in the maritime sector.
Mandatory Single Window - The amendments update the provisions of the FAL Convention on mandatory electronic data exchange in ports for ship clearance.
The amendments to the annex of the Convention will make it mandatory for public authorities to establish, maintain and use single window (SW) systems for the electronic exchange of information required on arrival, stay, and departure of ships in ports.
In addition, public authorities will have to combine or coordinate the electronic transmission of the data to ensure that information is submitted or provided only once and re-used to the maximum extent possible.
Provisions derived from lessons learned during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic - Contracting Governments and their relevant public authorities are required to allow ships and ports to remain fully operational during a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), to maintain the complete functionality of global supply chains to the greatest extent possible.
Public authorities are also required to designate port workers and ships' crew as key workers (or equivalent), regardless of their nationality or the flag of their ship, when in their territory.
Best practice recommendations aim to prevent obstacles to crew movement for repatriation, crew change, and travel, and encourage dissemination of information about public health matters and expected protection measures by ship operators.
The amendments concerning arrival and departure of persons require public authorities to inform passengers about vaccination requirements sufficiently in advance of departure and vaccinators to use the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis to assure uniform acceptance.
Tackling maritime corruption - Updates to the FAL Convention take a systemic approach to addressing the issue of corruption associated with the ship-shore interface in ports.
Contracting Governments are now required to encourage public authorities to assess the risks of corruption and address them by developing and implementing preventive measures to strengthen integrity, transparency, and accountability.
Public authorities are required to coordinate efforts to detect, investigate, and sanction corruption related to ships' calls in the port, including through national and international cooperation.
Updated definitions - The amendments bring in updated definitions and general provisions for various terms used in the Convention, establishing agreed terminology.
This means that all stakeholders, whether at a port, onboard a ship, or a third party (such as a public authority, etc.), will now have a clear consensus on the meaning of terms such as 'actual time of arrival,' 'estimated time of arrival,' 'authenticate,' etc.
1 January 2024 - MARPOL Annex I - watertight doors
Adopted by MEPC 78
Chapter 4 – Requirements for the cargo area of oil tankers
1 January 2024 - MARPOL Annex II
Abbreviated legend to the revised GESAMP Hazard Evaluation Procedure
Unified Interpretation on Biofuels
MEPC 78 approved a unified interpretation of Regulation 18.3 of MARPOL Annex VI with regard to the use of biofuels. The amendment clarifies that fuels with a biofuel content up to 30% in principle fall under the definition of marine fuel oil derived from petroleum refining (Regulation 18.3.1) and no further NOx testing is required.
For fuels with a biofuel content of more than 30%, it needs to be verified that the engine is not altered beyond the approved parts and settings of the NOx Technical File (Regulation 18.3.2) to not require NOx testing.
1 May 2024 – MARPOL Amendments - Annex I, II, IV, V, & VI
Adopted by MEPC 79
Mediterranean Sea Emission Control Area for Sulphur Oxides and particulate matter - designation of Mediterranean Sea, as a whole, as an Emission Control Area for Sulphur Oxides and Particulate Matter, under MARPOL Annex VI. In such an Emission Control Area, the limit for sulfur in fuel oil used on board ships is 0.10% mass by mass (m/m), while outside these areas, the limit is 0.50% m/m.
Mandatory garbage record books for smaller ships - amendments to MARPOL Annex V to make the Garbage Record Book mandatory also for ships of 100 gross tonnage and above and less than 400 gross tonnage.
This extends the requirement for mandatory garbage record books to smaller ships, which will be required to keep records of their garbage handling operations, namely discharges to a reception facility ashore or to other ships, garbage incineration, permitted discharges of garbage into the sea, and accidental or other exceptional discharged or loss of garbage into the sea. The move supports the implementation of IMO's Strategy and Action Plan to address marine plastic litter from ships.
Protecting seas in the Arctic - regional arrangements for port reception facilities - amendments to the MARPOL annexes to allow States with ports in the Arctic region to enter into regional arrangements for port reception facilities. The amendments relate to MARPOL Annexes I (oil), II (noxious liquid substances), IV (sewage), V (garbage) and VI (air pollution).
EEXI, CII, and rating values - amendments to appendix IX of MARPOL Annex VI on the reporting of mandatory values related to the implementation of the IMO short-term GHG reduction measure, including attained EEXI, CII, and rating values to the IMO Ship Fuel Oil Consumption Database (IMO DCS).
Fuel flashpoint in bunker delivery note - amendments to appendix V of MARPOL Annex VI, to include the flashpoint of fuel oil or a statement that the flashpoint has been measured at or above 70ºC as mandatory information in the bunker delivery note (BDN). 1 July 2024 MARPOL HFO in Arctic waters prohibition Adopted by MEPC 76
Entry into effect of amendments to MARPOL Annex I (addition of a new regulation 43A) to introduce a prohibition on the use and carriage for use as fuel of heavy fuel oil (HFO) by ships in Arctic waters on and after 1 July 2024. The prohibition will cover the use and carriage for use as fuel of oils having a density at 15°C higher than 900 kg/m3 or a kinematic viscosity at 50°C higher than 180 mm2/s.
Ships engaged in securing the safety of ships, or in search and rescue operations, and ships dedicated to oil spill preparedness and response would be exempted. Ships that meet certain construction standards with regard to oil fuel tank protection would need to comply on and after 1 July 2029.
A Party to MARPOL with a coastline bordering Arctic waters may temporarily waive the requirements for ships flying its flag while operating in waters subject to that Party's sovereignty or jurisdiction, up to 1 July 2029.
1 July 2024 - IBC Code
Adopted by MEPC 78
Amendments to International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code) related to watertight doors
1 July 2024 - SOLAS chapter XV - International Code of Safety for Ships Carrying Industrial personnel
Adopted by MSC 106
New SOLAS chapter XV and the new mandatory Code for Industrial Personnel - new SOLAS chapter XV and the associated new International Code of Safety for Ships Carrying Industrial Personnel (IP Code), developed by the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction (SDC 8).
The aim is to provide minimum safety standards for ships that carry industrial personnel, as well as for the personnel themselves, and address specific risks of maritime operations within the offshore and energy sectors, such as personnel transfer operations.
Such personnel may be engaged in the construction, maintenance, decommissioning, operation, or servicing of offshore facilities, such as windfarms, as well as offshore oil and gas installations, aquaculture, ocean mining, or similar activities.
1 July 2024 - 2011 ESP Code
Adopted by MSC 106
2011 ESP Code - amendments to the International Code on the Enhanced Programme of Inspections during Surveys of Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers, 2011 (2011 ESP Code) include those addressing inconsistencies on the examination of ballast tanks at annual surveys for bulk carriers and oil tankers, following the requirement contained in the condition evaluation report.
Expected entry into force of further amendments and requirements
1 May 2025 - Designation of Mediterranean Sea as ECA
MARPOL Annex VI amendment enters into effect - designation of the Mediterranean Sea, as a whole, as an Emission Control Area for Sulphur Oxides and Particulate Matter under MARPOL Annex VI. In such an Emission Control Area, the limit for sulfur in fuel oil used on board ships is 0.10% mass by mass (m/m), while outside these areas the limit is 0.50% m/m.
6 June 2025 - Entry into force of the Hong Kong Convention
The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 (the Hong Kong Convention), was adopted at a diplomatic conference held in Hong Kong, China, from 11 to 15 May 2009, which was attended by delegates from 63 countries.
1 January 2026
SOLAS chapter II-2 in relation to flashpoint - amendments to SOLAS chapter II-2, intended to prevent the supply of oil fuel not complying SOLAS flashpoint requirements (60°C), enhancing the safety of ships using oil fuel.
The amendments add new definitions and provisions to SOLAS regulation II-2/4 (Probability of ignition), including requiring that ships carrying oil fuel shall, prior to bunkering, be provided with a declaration signed and certified by the fuel oil supplier's representative that the oil fuel supplied is in conformity with regulation SOLAS II.2/4.2.1 and with the test method used for determining the flashpoint.
SOLAS Protocol of 1978 - amendments to the 1978 SOLAS Protocol concern the Form of Safety Equipment Certificate for Cargo Ships, ensuring harmonization with the forms of certificates in the appendix (Certificates) to the annex to the 1974 SOLAS Convention, amended by resolution MSC.496(105) for consistency, as a result of the GMDSS modernization.
IGC and IGF Code amendments - amendments to chapter 6 of the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (IGC Code) and to chapter 7 of the International Code of Safety for Ships Using Gases or other Low-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code) concern the application of high manganese austenitic steel for cryogenic service in cargo and fuel tanks of LNG carriers and LNG-fueled ships.