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Progress on safety guidelines for hydrogen- and ammonia-fuelled ships

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LONDON : The Sub-Committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers made significant progress on the development of draft interim guidelines for the safety of ships using hydrogen and ammonia as fuel when it met for its ninth session (CCC 9, 20-29 September 2023). 

Taking into account the urgency of providing guidance to Administrations, shipowners and the industry at large on the safe use of hydrogen and ammonia as fuel, and in support of IMO’s emission targets, the Sub-Committee agreed to convene an intersessional working group from 9 to13 September 2024, immediately prior to CCC 10 (subject to approval by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) at its 108th session and endorsement by the Council), to finalize the guidelines. 

Time permitting, the working group will also be invited to further develop the draft interim guidelines for ships using low-flashpoint oil fuels. 

The Sub-Committee agreed to a draft MSC circular on Interim guidelines for use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cargo as fuel, for approval by MSC 108, which provides additional coverage for ships under the IGC Code and complements the Interim guidelines for the safety of ships using LPG fuels (MSC.1/Circ.1666) approved by MSC 107.  

Meanwhile, the Sub-Committee also initiated the development of draft amendments to the IGC Code with respect to the safe use of LPG as fuel, based on the Interim Guidelines, as well as provisions for the safe use of LPG as fuel for gas carriers carrying cargoes other than LPG listed in chapter 19 of the IGC Code. 

The CCC Sub-Committee plays a vital role in the development of technical provisions for alternative fuels and related technologies, ensuring that safety implications and potential risks associated with the use of alternative fuels and related technologies are duly addressed.  

Guidelines already developed include:  

  • Interim guidelines for the safety of ships using methyl/ethyl alcohol as fuel (MSC.1/Circ.1621); 
  • Interim guidelines for ships using fuel cells (MSC.1/Circ.1647); and  
  • Interim guidelines for the safety of ships using LPG fuels (MSC.1/Circ.1666). 

The work plan, updated at this session, foresees the further development of guidelines through 2024 and 2025 with finalization of mandatory provisions for methyl/ethyl alcohols and further development of mandatory provisions for fuel cells at CCC 12 in September 2026.  

Other matters discussed at CCC 9 include its ongoing revision of the International Code of the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (IGC Code), the increased frequency of accidents related to entering enclosed spaces resulting in loss of life, and a draft Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) circular on recommendations for the carriage of plastic pellets by sea in freight containers.

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