The use of gas as fuel, particularly LNG, has increased in recent years due to regulations calling for lower sulfur and particulate emissions. But gas and other low-flashpoint fuels pose their own set of safety challenges, which need to be properly managed.
LNG use has entered the passenger ship realm, first on Baltic ferries.
Just this week, Carnival Corp. & plc firmed an order for four cruise ships that will use LNG in dual-powered hybrid engines to power the ship both in port and underway. LNG will be stored on board and used to generate 100% power at sea.
AIDA Cruises is already building a pair of newbuilds at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries with hybrid engines that can use LNG, but primarily during port calls. AIDAprima will enter service this autumn.
And a senior Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. official has said the company is ready with drawings to go forward on an LNG ship design when it feels assured that's the right course to take.
Concerning LNG, IMO's IGF Code aims to minimize any risks to the ship, its crew and the environment.
The amendments to SOLAS Chapter II-1 ('Construction – Structure, subdivision and stability, machinery and electrical installations') include amendments to Part F 'Alternative design and arrangements,' to provide a methodology for alternative design and arrangements for machinery, electrical installations and low-flashpoint fuel storage and distribution systems. A new Part G 'Ships using low-flashpoint fuels' adds regulations to require ships constructed after the expected date of entry into force of January 2017 to comply with the requirements of the IGF Code, together with related amendments to chapter II-2 and Appendix (Certificates).
The IGF Code contains mandatory provisions for the arrangement, installation, control and monitoring of machinery, equipment and systems using low-flashpoint fuels, focusing initially on LNG.
The Code addresses all areas that need special consideration for the use of low-flashpoint fuels, taking a goal-based approach, with goals and functional requirements specified for each section forming the basis for the design, construction and operation of ships using this type of fuel.
The MSC also adopted related amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers and the STCW Code to include new mandatory minimum requirements for the training and qualifications of masters, officers, ratings and other personnel on ships subject to the IGF Code.
These amendments also have an entry into force date of January 2017, in line with the related SOLAS amendments.