ABS Initiative To Focus On The Best Practices In Shipping Of EVs

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The first class society to adapt its rules to account for the challenges, ABS has also worked with industry on a programme of best practices, writes ABS vice president technology Gareth Burton, says an article published in Riviera.

Focus on EVs

Advances in battery storage technology in the automotive industry have seen a dramatic increase in the manufacture and shipping of electric vehicles (EVs).  

EVs have become an area of focus for the maritime industry due to recent fires on the car carriers and ferries transporting them. Recent incidents on car carriers and roro vessels include hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric and battery-powered EVs, leading to calls for updates to class rules addressing their carriage on board ships.

Two initiatives

ABS has responded with two initiatives. We are the first class society to adapt its rules with an optional notation covering the key fire detection, firefighting and vehicle management aspects.

We also identified the need for a collective best practice set and hosted virtual workshops inviting representatives with experience in EV transport to participate and share their experiences.

Attendees in the workshops included representatives from car manufacturers, shipowners, ship operators, flag states, P&I Clubs and independent consultants who were asked to identify best practices associated with transporting these vehicles on board vessels.  

Practical guidance 

The best practices identified during the workshop cover six core areas: vehicle stowage, charging, fire detection, crew training, firefighting and special considerations. 

Only ship-owned cables and connectors should be used in charging operations and charging should only be from power sockets designed and approved for charging purposes. Such sockets must be capable of being disconnected from the shipboard power system at a location accessible if the vehicle being charged is on fire. Charging operations should not be carried out during cargo loading and unloading. 

A video monitoring system should be installed to supplement the fire detection system for cargo areas intended for the carriage of EVs.  

Fire patrol frequency should be increased for areas carrying EVs and portable thermal imaging devices should be provided and used by the crew performing patrols in a roro cargo space containing EVs.

Training

Training should be provided for crew who are responsible for responding to a fire involving EVs, including in the use of thermal imaging cameras. Crew involved in firefighting should be capable of recognising EVs, understanding the risk posed by high-voltage equipment and be aware of the possible release of toxic gas.

A fixed water deluge or mist system should be provided to cover the areas that carry EVs; though a fixed monitor system can be used in open deck areas.

Electric shock

The drainage system is to be sized to remove no less than 125% of the combined capacity of both the water spraying system pumps and the required number of fire hose nozzles.

For EVs which are charged on board ferries, the ship’s electrical supply to the vehicle should be cut prior to attempting to fight a fire, to reduce the potential of electric shock.

New ABS notation

The culmination of more than a year of work with leading industry experts including roro owners and operators, designers, regulators and other stakeholders, ABS has introduced new optional requirements within its Marine Vessel Rules and ABS Guide for Enhanced Fire Protection Arrangements.

These requirements include supplemental fire detection, alarms and firefighting equipment and provisions associated with vehicle recharging. The new updated optional notation EFP-C(EV) builds on ABS’ industry-leading experience in addressing firefighting and safety systems on vessels.

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Source: Riviera

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