Lloyd’s Register (LR) has issued a statutory alert for SOLAS Regulation II-1/8-1, which has been amended and will require operational information to be provided to the master after a flooding casualty to assist with decisions regarding safe return to port.

LR said the new requirement applies to passenger vessels over 120 meters in length or with three or more main vertical zones, constructed on or after Jan. 1, 2014.

According to LR, the operational information can be provided by onboard stability computers or through shore-based support arrangements, as follows. At least two independent stability computers capable of processing the data and providing the necessary information should be installed on board; the computers must be approved in accordance with the guidelines contained in circular MSC.1/Circ. 1400 and their output should be within the tolerances specified in the Guidelines for the Approval of Stability Instruments (MSC.1/Circ. 1229); the computers should have an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) connected to both main and emergency switchboards; and at least two crew members should be competent in operating the computers and capable of interpreting the output in order to provide the required information.

Amendments to the IACS Unified Requirement UR L5, to incorporate minimum requirements for onboard stability computer safe return to port calculations, are under consideration, according to the alert, which also stated that minimum survivability standards may be left to the discretion of the ship’s flag administration. The procedure for loading computer approvals will be reviewed once the revised UR L5 has been issued.

As an alternative to onboard stability computers, shipowners can arrange shore-based support which provides prompt access to computerized damage stability and residual structural strength calculation programs.

Shore-based support can be provided by companies or organizations such as LR’s ship emergency response service (SERS), the largest emergency response service provider, with over 3,000 vessels registered, including more than 100 passenger and cruise ships. Both LR and non-LR classed vessels can enroll with the service.

Shore-based support may be considered complementary to onboard arrangements, with immediate response onboard being followed up by experienced specialists on shore, with additional capability in residual strength assessment.

The Rules and Regulations for the Classification of Ships, Passenger Ships, Part 4, Chapter 2, Section 1, paragraph 1.1.6 contain a parallel requirement to the SOLAS regulation, but there are differences in the way this applies, according to LR, which referred to Notice No. 7 to the 2012 Ship Rules for details. for details. It said that ships with contracts signed before July 1, 2013, but with their keels being laid after Jan. 1, 2014, will need to comply with the new SOLAS regulation, but Part 4, Chapter 2, Section 1, paragraph 1.1.6 of the Rules will not apply to them.

To ensure compliance, as a minimum, owners and operators of ships constructed on or after Jan. 1, 2014, should either install approved onboard stability computers in accordance with the guidelines or arrange shore-based support.