A recent news article published in the Gov.UK states that MGN 674(M) Application of the Special Purpose Ships Code.
1.1 The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974, as amended, and UK Merchant Shipping legislation allow a cargo ship to carry up to 12 passengers in addition to the crew. The SOLAS Convention recognises that a passenger is “every person other than the master and members of the crew or other persons employed or engaged in any capacity on board a ship on the business of that ship”. A ship carrying more than 12 passengers by definition is a passenger ship, and is subject to enhanced constructional and operational requirements to ensure the safety of the passengers.
1.2 The MCA recognises that there are ships which are designed and operate in specialist roles when carrying more than 12 persons in addition to the crew, and under conditions that make compliance with passenger ship requirements inappropriate. Where such persons are not passengers, in that they will be working regularly on board, are certified medically fit and have received relevant safety training to do so, the MCA considers these persons to be special personnel with attributes that differ from a passenger.
1.3 The Special Purpose Ships Code (SPS Code) provides appropriate levels of safety for cargo ships carrying more than 12 persons in aggregate (i.e., including both special personnel and passengers), in addition to the crew. Application of the SPS Code provides beneficial operational flexibility for ships engaged in activities, other than as normal cargo-carrying ships. The SPS Code provisions for training and certification of special personnel on board offer practical alternatives to the SOLAS and STCW Conventions.
1.4 Many voyages involving the carriage of special personnel are non-international, in that they do not meet the definition in SOLAS I/2(d) for an “international voyage” meaning a “voyage from a country to which the present Convention applies to a port outside such country, or conversely.” The UK requires all ships, on any voyage involving the carriage of special personnel, to meet the SPS Code as detailed in this MGN.
1.5 This MGN aims to provide guidance to further define “other persons”, as referred to in SOLAS I/2(e)(i), in the application of requirements for the SPS Code, and application in anticipation of the introduction of the new SOLAS Chapter XV which addresses the carriage of more than 12 industrial personnel.
1.6 Recognising the work currently underway at the IMO to introduce a new SOLAS Chapter XV – Safety Measures for Ships Carrying Industrial Personnel – and the International Code of Safety for Ships Carrying Industrial Personnel (IP Code), which will introduce safety measures for ships carrying industrial personnel, Annexes II and III of this MGN provide further information on this issue.
2 The SPS Code
2.1 The SPS Code, or “the Code” as referred to in this MGN, means:
- IMO Resolution MSC.266(84) of 13 May 2008 – Code of Safety for Special Purpose Ships, 2008, as amended by Resolutions MSC.299(87), MSC.408(96), MSC.445(99) and MSC.1/Circ.1422 (for ships built on or after 1 July 2009); or
- IMO Resolution A.534(13) of 17 November 1983 – Code of Safety for Special Purpose Ships, 1983), as amended by Resolutions MSC.183(79), MSC.453(100) and MSC.464(101). (for ships built before 1 July 2009).
- Where the 1983 SPS Code is applicable, references in this MGN to chapters and paragraphs of the 2008 SPS Code should be taken as references to their equivalents in the 1983 SPS Code.
2.2 The total number of persons allowed on board (crew, special personnel and up to 12 passengers) is determined by the number of persons specified by the ship’s certification.
2.3 References to ships “constructed” or “built” in this MGN refer to the dates at which the keels of which are laid or which are at a similar stage of construction for the purposes of construction in accordance with SOLAS chapter II-1 simultaneously with the 2008 SPS Code (the applicable UK date for new ships under the 2008 SPS Code being on or after 1 July 2009, in reflection of the discretion given to Administrations in accordance with paragraph 1.2.1 of the 2008 SPS Code).
2.4 Modifications made to existing cargo ships to bring them into compliance with the SPS Code are to be considered as constituting “alterations and modifications of a major character”. Such modifications would require compliance with the latest version of the SPS Code. Operators should discuss any proposed modifications to UK cargo ships with the MCA at an early stage to confirm SPS requirements. For cargo ships operating in accordance with the MCA’s Enhanced Authorisation Scheme (MGN 561) or Alternative Compliance Scheme (MGN 568) which are converted to comply with the SPS Code, the status of such ships on these schemes will not be affected.
2.5 Alterations made to existing vessels certified as SPS vessels, or which are operating as SPS type vessels under existing arrangements, should be referred to MCA at an early stage for agreement on which provisions of the SPS Code shall apply to the alterations. This is offered to separate out provisions for minor alterations on existing SPS type vessels from conversion as considered in paragraph 2.4 above as they may be different.
2.6 For application of the 1983 SPS Code which allows for relaxations for near-coastal voyages, meaning a voyage in the vicinity of the coast of an Administration as defined by that Administration, MCA defines this application to voyages which are restricted to operations within the UK EEZ only.
2.7 If vessels meet the definition of a Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU) and are certificated in accordance with the Code for the Construction and Equipment of Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODU), 2009 then they do not require SPS Certification but may operate in a SPS style role, subject to agreement from MCA.
3 Application of construction standards in the SPS Code
3.1 Ships carrying more than 12 special personnel and passengers in aggregate should:
– if constructed on or after 1 July 2009, comply with 2008 SPS Code;
– if constructed before 1 July 2009, comply with either the 1983 or the 2008 SPS Code unless the ship undergoes significant modification (as referred to in para 2.4) then it should comply with the current code.
3.2 Cargo ships flagging to the UK and carrying, in addition to the crew, more than 12 persons, which shall include not more than 12 passengers, shall demonstrate compliance with one of the above-named codes, as applicable to build date or date of significant modification as referred to in paragraph 2.4.
4 Special Personnel
4.1 The following definitions apply to all ships certified as SPS:
4.2 “Special personnel” means all persons (who are not passengers or members of the crew), that are carried on board in connection with the special purpose of that ship or because of special work being carried out on board that ship, when the ship is certified as a SPS.
4.3 In this context, “crew” means all persons carried to provide navigation and maintenance of the ship, its machinery, systems and arrangements essential for propulsion and safe navigation or to provide services for other persons on board.
4.4 “Special personnel” may include the following but is not limited to:
– scientists or technicians engaged in research, hydrographic or oceanographic surveys, or expeditions;
– personnel engaged in training and practical marine experience to develop seafaring skills suitable for a professional career at sea;
– personnel who process the catch of fish, whales or other living resources of the sea on factory ships not engaged in catching;
– salvage personnel on salvage ships, cable-laying personnel on cable-laying ships, seismic personnel on seismic survey ships, diving personnel on diving support ships, pipe-laying personnel on pipe layers and crane operating personnel on floating cranes; and remotely operated vehicle technicians;
– technicians that work on wind and tidal turbines (industrial personnel), or other emerging energy technologies.
4.5 Classes of personnel not covered in section 4.4 are to be agreed with the MCA for UK flag vessels, and for non-UK flag vessels operating in the UK EEZ this should be agreed with the vessel’s flag state.
4.6 The commonly used terms “special person”, “industrial personnel”, “non-maritime personnel”, “transient seafarer” and (other than for bare boat charters) “charterer’s personnel” are considered synonymous with “special personnel”.
4.7 Any proposal for a passenger ship to engage in SPS operations should be referred to MCA for consideration, as aspects of the special purpose or operations may be incompatible with the passenger ship certification and require resolution on a case-by-case basis.
5 Walk to Work operations (Industrial Personnel)
5.1 Where persons are carried and accommodated on the ship but carry out most or all of their work while disembarked onto an installation/structure or another ship, such as in walk to work operations, they cannot be part of the crew of the accommodation vessel in accordance with the SPS Code, even if they return to the ship to carry out work associated with the installation/structure.
5.2 For walk to work or similar operations when operating to and from UK ports within the UK’s exclusive economic zone only, (with ships effectively providing primarily transport and accommodation) when carrying more than 12 persons (non-crew) – as an alternative to passenger ship regulations, such operations are only permitted through compliance or equivalence with either the 1983 or 2008 SPS Codes as described in Annex II, evidenced through valid certificates or documents of compliance.
5.3 Walk to work, or similar operations does not extend to MODU’s.
6 SPS Code compliance with training, medical fitness and certification requirements for special personnel
6.1 The SPS Code recognises that special personnel are expected to be able-bodied with a fair knowledge of the layout of the ship and to have received some training in safety procedures and the handling of the ship’s safety equipment before leaving port but does not provide specific requirements. MCA would expect the detail to be outlined in the vessel’s Safety Management System.
6.2 Special personnel are not considered to be part of the crew for the purposes of training, medical fitness and certification, and the standards in this MGN may be applied to any special personnel that have no safety or other duties as a part of the ship’s crew. Where special personnel have specific safety duties allocated on a ship’s Muster List, in addition to paragraph 6.4 below, they are required to have the basic training and security training in accordance with STCW Chapter VI and be medically certified as for ship’s crew.
6.3 Special personnel should be able to demonstrate their medical fitness with an MLC compliant medical certificate. For recognised equivalent medical fitness certificates on UK Ships see MSN 1815, as amended. Alternatively, subject to a risk assessment by the employer, another certificate of medical fitness appropriate to the duties and geographic location of the worker will be accepted. The UK would also accept the following as evidence of equivalent medical fitness for those not considered crew:
6.3.1 UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Commercial Pilot’s Licence (for pilots);
6.3.2 UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Diving Medical Certificate (for divers);
6.3.3 Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) offshore medical (for offshore workers); or
6.3.4 medicals carried out in accordance with “The Renewable UK” Medical Fitness to Work Guidelines for near offshore projects (for windfarm workers).
6.4 Special personnel should be able to demonstrate safety training and abilities as follows:
6.4.1 ship familiarisation training as defined in MGN 120(M);
6.4.2 ability to communicate in the working language of the ship; and
6.4.3 completion of basic training in personal survival techniques, as set out in one of the following courses:
– Table A-VI/1-1 of the STCW Code; or
– the Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organisation (OPITO) approved Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training (BOSIET); or
– courses developed for the industry that are of at least equal standard to the above, which the company has assessed and are acceptable for the purposes of the operations and occupational risks to which it is anticipated the special personnel will be exposed.
6.5 Occupational health, safety and welfare:
6.6 Merchant Shipping legislation covering living and working conditions protects seafarers. Whether special personnel or industrial personnel on board SPS (or ships accepted as equivalent), are “seafarers” for the purposes of the Maritime Labour Convention should be considered against the criteria in MGN 471(M) – Maritime Labour Convention 2006: Definitions.
6.7 The occupational health and safety duties that are applicable to employers, workers and others on board ship are subject to the Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessels (Health and Safety at Work) Regulations 1997 (reference MGN 636(M+F) as amended, and MGN 492(M)), whether or not such persons are considered seafarers or non-seafarers.
6.8 It is recommended that the ship should also carry a statement from the MCA to support the special personnel on board who are not considered as seafarers and therefore are not subject to the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). Owners should apply through their local Marine Office/Customer Service Manager. These will be issued by MCA Headquarters, Maritime Security & MLC branch in Technical Services (Operations). Further guidance on interpretation of “seafarers” for MLC purposes can be found in MGN 471.
6.9 For foreign flagged vessels operating in the UK EEZ MCA would expect an equivalent statement to paragraph 6.8 from the vessel’s flag administration.
7 Verification and enforcement
7.1 It is important for any ships that carry large numbers of persons, where safety standards are specifically dependant on the numbers and status of persons on board, that the ship and operators have effective procedures to verify the numbers of persons and their status on board. For special personnel, this should include their medical fitness certification, safety training and other requirements referred to in section 6 above. The master should ensure persons provide adequate demonstration/certification for meeting the requirements set out in this MGN, thereby contributing towards managing an entire list of those on board at all times.
7.2 In accordance with the Port State Control Regulations non-UK ships calling at a port or anchorage in the UK to engage in ship/port interface may be inspected. It is expected that ships with large numbers of persons on board will be able to provide evidence of complying with this MGN, in accordance with the principle of no more favourable treatment.
8 Survey and certification of UK Special Purpose Ships
8.1 UK SPS will be surveyed and certified in accordance with the UK Survey and Certification Regulations as cargo ships, in accordance with Section 1.6 and 1.7 of the Code. The Code may be applied to UK ships without a lower limit on the gross tonnage (Code section 1.2.1) and regardless of whether a ship operates as a SPS on international or non-international voyages.
8.2 In addition to the required SOLAS Certificates as a Cargo Ship, the MCA will issue an exemption certificate in accordance with the Code, specifying the requirements for which the Code has been accepted as meeting the relevant safety standards.
8.3 For more detailed information, see Annex I which contains specific certification requirements for UK-flagged ships based on the area of operation of the ship, and for non-UK ships operating in UK waters.
Did you subscribe to our daily Newsletter?
It’s Free! Click here to Subscribe