Recent EU legislation — are you ready?

In October last year, a new European Directive came into effect that required fleet owners to supply proof of certification for all new marine equipment installed — to include whole system approval. Stephen Ratcliffe, marketing manager of marine systems specialist PSM, considers the implications for ship owners and equipment suppliers in respect of vessel water ingress detection and alarm systems.

Left undetected, water formation can quickly develop into a major hazard for bulk carriers. Created in the aftermath of the Titanic disaster almost 100 years ago, the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Treaty laid down the foundations of safety procedures for marine vessels which remain in force today. The subsequent growth of the cargo industry has seen additional amendments to the treaty in response to the ship losses and fatalities arising from undetected water ingress in cargo holds.

Today all bulk carriers are required to be fitted with water ingress detection and alarm (WIAS) systems. Harnessing the latest technology, systems like PSM’s BulkSafe use self-checking active sensors to remotely monitor cargo holds, triggering an alarm if water is detected, thus enabling early avoiding action to be taken. The installation of such systems has helped to significantly reduce vessel losses and improve marine safety.

The earliest WIAS detection systems were by and large poorly conceived, based on an unrealistic assessment of in- service demands, leading to performance issues and even system failure. Whilst modern systems such as those developed by PSM are based on robust and proven technology which delivers greatly improved reliability, such incidents have been a key driver in the introduction of new EC regulations, aimed at ensuring minimum performance standards for marine equipment.

First introduced as a European Council Directive in December 1996,The Marine Equipment Directive (MED) 96/98/EC covers equipment carried and used on ships registered under the flags of European Union member states. The purposes of the MED are twofold. First, to harmonize approval requirements to keep costs down for end users and to ensure the free movement of equipment within EU and EFTA states. Second, to enhance safety at sea and prevent marine pollution by ensuring equipment not only meets the requirements of international conventions such as SOLAS and MARPOL set out with the IMO but additionally conforms to a common agreed European standard of safety and performance.

Affecting those who manufacture, purchase or supply listed equipment, the directive covers any article that could be used on board a vessel, in particular: life saving appliances, marine pollution prevention, fire protection, navigation and telecommunications equipment. Included in the list are water level detectors, with water ingress detection systems falling into this category.

A number of amendments to the international conventions and applicable testing standards have entered into force since the adoption of the original directive. Towards the end of last year, a new European Directive 2011/75/EU came into effect that contains provisions governing certain categories of marine equipment, among them water level detectors.

According to the terms of the new Directive category 8 SOLAS Chapter 11–1 Construction — structure, subdivision and stability, machinery and electrical installations, water level detectors have been re-classified from AnnexA2toAnnexA1/8.1. More specifically, from October 2012 when the Directive came into force, water level detectors — which includes water ingress detection systems — required MED approval for the overall system.

While existing systems are unaffected, fleet owners installing new water detection systems are now required to ensure they are fully tested and certified or risk being in contravention of maritime law. The consequences of failure range from port exclusion to fines and imprisonment if non-compliance is found to be a contributory factor in the event of an accident.

While it is the responsibility of shipping companies to ensure their fleets are equipped with the best safety systems available, manufacturers are also being called upon to play their part by acting now to ensure the necessary testing and approval of their systems is in place.

As major supplier and industry innovator, PSM has already gained approval for its advanced BulkSafe system with Lloyds Register (one of the world leaders in assessing marine business processes and products to internationally recognized standards).

It is expected that the new burden of legislation will result in a further shake-up of the market, with smaller suppliers struggling to support the financial and technical pressures imposedby thesenew,morestringentstandards,withsome forced to exit the industry altogether — resulting in a new generation of legacy problems.

For PSM, the new legislation underlines the importance of offering a global customer base the longevity and security required to guarantee the support of installed products over many years of use. Equally, as major suppliers, PSM regards it as vital to demonstrate support and safeguard industry standards in the future through ongoing commitment to design, innovation and safety improvement.

ClassNK: doing its bit to keep seafarers and their vessels safe 

Major ship classification society ClassNK offers a broad range of services that encompass every aspect of ship classification — from the approval of vessel and machinery plans to the survey and registration of the ship and ship installations, approval of materials, equipment and outfitting gear, as well as the assessment and registration of ship safety management systems and security systems.

ClassNK is dedicated to ensuring the safety of life and property at sea, and the prevention of pollution of the marine environment. It therefore focuses on delivering the highest quality classification services, by the highest quality personnel, while maintaining its totally independent third party, non-profit status.

It also focuses on the development of relevant rules, procedures and guidance, and maintains and develops its commitment to scientific and technological research and development.

It maintains and develops its global operations in line with the needs of clients using its services. ClassNK has earned an outstanding reputation for its long-standing dedication to safeguarding life and property at sea and preventing marine pollution through the establishment of universally recognized standards for the design, construction and maintenance of ships and other marine structures.

The principal work of the society’s expert technical staff is to undertake surveys to ensure that the rules which it has developed are applied to new buildings and existing ships to ensure their safety. The rules cover not only hull structures, but also propulsion systems, electrics, electronic systems, safety equipment, cargo handling gear, and various other areas. ClassNK’s surveyors work in shipbuilding and repair yards and at ports across the world, wherever they may be called upon to examine the condition of a ship.

The head office is located in Tokyo and in Chiba, Japan, and there are branch offices at the major Japanese and overseas cities throughout the world. As of the end of July 2013, the society had over 8,380 vessels and over 216 million gross tonnes under class. This figure represents approximately 20% of the world merchant fleet currently under class.

ClassNK knows that, as there are different types of cargoes that can be loaded on board bulk carriers, there are cases when vessel operations must be changed according to the properties of the cargoes. For example, major marine casualties have been reported in recent years, with many of these caused by the liquefaction of cargo during transport, especially where nickel ore has been carried.

The society believes that, in order to prevent such cases, the special requirements (stability, hull strength etc.) for specially constructed cargo ships depending on the properties of each cargo are necessary to safely carry them in any condition regardless of its operations such as moisture control (‘specially constructed cargo ship’ is defined in IMSBC Code

Also, as part of its many safety measures, ClassNK has been publishing the Guidelines for the Safe Carriage of Nickel Ore (Second Edition) since February 2012. The Guidelines can be downloaded free of charge via the ClassNK website. Implementation of the best practices included in the Guidelines cost nothing, and ClassNK can provide certification of such implementation.

By developing new standards to ensure safe nickel ore transport, the Guidelines and their implementation will greatly benefit the dry bulk industry and greatly improve the safety of all vessels and crews transporting such cargoes.


In recent years, the needs of ClassNK’s clients in the maritime industry have become greatly diversified. As such, ClassNK has made responding to these needs an important part of its mission.

As a society, ClassNK strives to satisfy the needs of its clients across the world through activities such as the provision of high- quality survey services, the expansion of its survey network, and the support it gives its clients for new international conventions. Through these efforts, it has earned a high reputation among its clients, which saw it become the first classification society in history to have over 200 million gross tonnes on register.

In regards to recent applications to its classification society, ClassNK continues to be chosen by many shipowners from Japan as well as throughout the rest of Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas.


ClassNK carried out a joint research project to help develop two ship maintenance management systems as part of an integrated service to include certification for shipowners and ship management companies. The system is applicable to bulk carriers as well as tankers and container vessels.

1. Condition Monitoring System (CMAX-LCA)

This system collects and analyses sensor data from the on-board sensors in machinery such as diesel engines and other engine room machinery. The system is equipped with an automatic condition diagnostic function, and providing users with highly accurate preventative maintenance.

2. Maintenance Management System (CMAX-PMS)

This system can carry out maintenance management plans and maintenance log management for machinery. When linked with the data gathered from the Condition Monitoring System, this system can also allow users to extend periods in between scheduled machinery overhaul inspections.

Through these systems, ClassNK believes that it can realize even greater rationality in vessel maintenance management right up until classification surveys and also help reduce ship lifecycle costs. 
Korean Register (KR): taking a technological approach 

Established in 1960, the Korean Register of Shipping has been promoting safe ships and clean oceans by continually developing technology and human resources pertaining to shipping, shipbuilding and other industrial services.

KR became a member of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) in 1988, and in 1990 was listed in

the Institute Classification Clause (ICC) of London Underwriters. With more than 2,918 ships totalling 63.5 million GRT in its registry, KR is currently authorized by 66 national administrations to carry out statutory services on their behalves.

With a network of 63 exclusive offices stations at major international ports around the globe, KR delivers top quality technical service anytime, anywhere around the world.


KR has developed a unique solution to assure maritime safety and maintain vessels called SeaTrust Technology. Since the early 1990s, it has continuously updated this

software series to reflect state-of- art technologies, advances in IT and customer requirements.

SeaTrust consists of the following:


  • SeaTrust-CSR (software for applying IACS Common Structural Rules);
  • SeaTrust-Holdan (software package for structural strength analysis of vessels);
  • SeaTrust-SHALI (software for calculating shaft alignment); 
  • SeaTrust-SLM (software for creating 3D product ship storing information relevant to all phases of a vessel’s lifecycle);
  • SeaTrust-RuleScant (software for ship structural design and strength assessment); and
  • SeaTrust-ISTAS (software for integrated structural analysis). The series covers rule scantling checks according to KR Rules and IACS CSR, structural safety assessment by direct methods, full spectral fatigue analysis, shaft alignment analysis and ship’s life cycle management. It is applicable to all vessel types including tankers, bulk carriers, container ships, passenger ships naval vessels and offshore structures.



KR’s clients are major international and domestic shipping companies as well as major shipyards. Bulk carriers account for almost half of its registered tonnage. Over 30% of its clients are non-Korean, and this percentage continues to grow. As KR is now expanding into non-traditional sectors, it fully expects new clients to come from renewable energies and wind generation.


KR has a specific strength in developing software and there are many KR programmes which enhance a vessel’s reliability, such as propulsion shafting. These include: SeaTrust-SHALI; shaft alignment calculation programme; SeaTrust-Lateral, lateral vibration calculation programme for propulsion; and SeaTrust- AXIAL, Shaft Axial vibration calculation programme for propulsion. These high-quality programs adopt GUI (Graphical User Interface) and deliver a user friendly environment to help our customers reduce cost and resources.

Coupled with this, KR evaluates the reliability of DPS (Dynamic Positioning System) through its experiences of FMEA (Failer Mode Effect Analysis) sea trials and technology to provide the industry with high level technology services. It also offers technical support regarding the IEC standards necessary for 


international approval of SSPA (Solid State Power Amplifier) radar which is self-developed in Korea. KR anticipates that the SSPA radar market will expand due to its strength in size (miniaturized system), degree of precision and reduced maintenance cost compared with existing magnetron radars.

Developing green ship technology and engaging in environment related R&D activities is a core part of KR’s ongoing strategy as well. The focus of our work is to reduce greenhouse gases and limit the impact that vessels, plant and machinery have on the natural environment.

KR has a team of experts working on a range of projects including analysis, economic feasibility and

technical validity of a variety of green ship technologies. These include energy efficiency, GHG reduction, fuel alternatives, new hull form and renewables.

A comprehensive set of blue- prints have been developed to allow the application of these green ship technologies. These include leading the search for new vessel power sources including high energy efficient and eco-friendly fuel-cell technology.

In addition, KR operates a Green Ship Certification program to issue certificates to those shipping companies who need to meet the principal environmental requirements and conditions set by IMO. Further, it is in the process of establishing a Green Ship TCS (Testing, Certification and Standard) Center to assess, test, and certify green ship technologies applied to new buildings and existing ships. It expects these developments to lead to an accepted international standard.

KR also expects to see a sharp rise in the demand for development of offshore energy and, as a consequence, the demand for offshore plant will grow as well. It has continued to make investments in R&D and cultivate manpower to secure its competitiveness in the offshore plant market.

KR has conducted engineering services on offshore plants (Structure Integrity Analysis & Risk assessment) and is active registering and certifying services of offshore plants as well.

KR has also developed KR-CON, which is a database programme of IMO instruments, which has received excellent reviews from the shipping and shipbuilding industry as well as PSCOs of port authorities around the world. It successfully delivered to the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), a RuleCheck programme which produces checklists for the port state control officers of Paris MOU region. A similar programme has been developed by KR and delivered to Mediterranean MOU authority for use by its port state control officers. Both systems are based on KR-CON technology and allow it to contribute to maritime safety and environmental protection by offering more advanced and standardized survey information to all PSCOs in both MOU regions.

Watching out for water: Martek Marine’s detection systems 

Martek Marine is a major supplier of marine systems, including: BNWAS; potable water testing kits; fixed gas detection; portable gas detectors; calibration/span gas; marine defibrillators; emissions monitoring; water ingress detection; hatch cover testing; and cargo tank monitoring. The company’s water ingress systems are of particular interest to the dry bulk market, especially in the light of the recent spate of casualties due to water damage of cargoes such as nickel ore.

Martek Marine supplies a product called BulksafeTM, which is a water ingress detection system (WIDS) — a version for bulk carriers of all sizes and also a version for general cargo vessels with a single hold.

When the SOLAS regulations were being created, Martek Marine was a key stakeholder in the drafting of the performance standards with Lloyds Register particularly concerning the performance standard of testing before loading cargo of the WIDS system to ensure it works properly.

The company’s detection systems works on float switch technology and as such are guaranteed to not cause false alarms. Some of Martek Marine’s competitors use electrodes which are cheaper but are prone to giving false alarms due to the sweating of cargo and the subsequent moisture hitting the sensors.

BULKSAFE TMSHIP HOLD WATER INGRESS DETECTION FOR BULKER CARRIERS BulksafeTM is a permanent ship’s hold water ingress detection system (WIDS) for bulk carriers fully type approved in accordance with SOLAS XII Regulation 12, IACS UR S24, IMO performance standard for water level detectors & IACS UI SC180. The system comprises a central BulksafeTM control and alarm panel interfacing with intrinsically safe MMS900 water level detectors installed in each compartment.

The unique design of MMS900 water level detectors allows them to be installed so that they are totally isolated from the cargo and protected from mechanical damage during cargo operations. They can be installed without the need for any structural alterations or piping work within the cargo holds.

Each MMS900 level switch is totally corrosion proof, protected against dust ingress and carries a lifetime warranty.

The BulksafeTM control and alarm panel indicates the alarm status for each named compartment with discrete signals for 0.5m and 2m alarm levels. The system incorporates an optional function to provide a fully automatic ‘in-situ’ functional test of all detectors, even whilst cargo is present in the holds. With integral safety barriers, the BulksafeTM is the most compact system available on the market.

BulksafeTM is type-approved, is very simple to install and is made in such a way that maintenance and testing are possible while carrying cargo. Martek Marine offers a lifetime sensor warranty.

BULKSAFETMWATER LEVEL DETECTION FOR GENERAL CARGO VESSELS BulksafeTM is a fully type-approved water level detection system (WLDS) for single hold cargo vessels in accordance with the new SOLAS Chapter II-1 Part B Regulation 23-3.

The system comprises a central BulksafeTM control and alarm panel interfacing with intrinsically safe MMS900 water level detectors.

The unique design of the MMS900 water level detectors allows them to be installed so that they are totally isolated from the cargo and protected from mechanical damage during cargo operations. They can be installed without the need for any structural alterations or piping work within the cargo holds.

Each MMS900 level switch is totally corrosion proof, protected against dust ingress and carries a lifetime warranty.

The system requires no recalibration.

While regulations stipulate that bulk carriers must have WIDS fitted, there is no doubt that some ships still have poor quality, old systems that are not up to scratch — and some have been turned off. When the regulations first came in for WIDS on bulk carriers the market was huge. However, now the regulations have passed, all existing vessels in theory should have WIDS fitted. Now the majority of Martek Marine’s BulksafeTM customers tend to be new builds with the majority coming from yards in China. Martek Marine does sometimes get enquiries for retrofits, so in general it replaces old systems with its own systems.

Recent orders won by Martek Marine include three units to an engineering group in Singapore, two units for a Chinese shipyard and a retrofit for a general cargo vessel for a Norwegian company.

  • MMS900 Level Switch: the MMS900 is the intrinsically safe water level detector for use with the Bulksafe water ingress detection system. MMS900 switches are constructed from stable polymer, which is corrosion resistant for all bulk cargoes and protected against dust ingress. The MMS900 switch is offered with a lifetime warranty against failure due to corrosion. Included with each MMS900 level switch as standard, is 30m of marine-approved cable for termination to deck/duct keel. The cable is fully bonded to the switch during manufacturing providing a totally immersion proof IP68 protected device even for 25m high ballast tanks. Sensors relying on sealing of cable terminations during installation, cannot guarantee this protection, and will be prone to failure in service giving you potentially disastrous false alarms.
  • Level Switch Filters: these heavy duty filters are available in packs of 24 and fit into the MMS900 water level detectors for the BulksafeTM water ingress detection system to stop cargo debris from clogging up the water level detector and preventing it from working. The filters are made from stable polymer making them corrosion resistant for all bulk cargoes. In addition, the back flushing allowed by the MMS900 water level detectors offers optimum service life.
  • MM89 Safety Barriers: the MM89 is a safety barrier for use with the Bulksafe water ingress detection system. The safety barrier assures that, even if the system suffers a multiple failure, the energy transferred to the sensing cable will remain below explosive ignition levels, thus reducing the risk of fire or explosion if the sensors are housed in a hazardous area. 

Other than WIDS, Martek Marine has two other products for the safe operation of bulk carriers — cargo hold hatch cover tightness testing and gas detection (portable and fixed).


HatchtiteTM is a lightweight, portable and robust instrument for accurate and reliable cargo hatch cover testing for water tightness on bulk carriers. This ultrasonic device gives a number of advantages over traditional methods of hatch cover testing and is ideal for use by either ship’s crew or surveyors.


  • prevent cargo damage: by using HatchtiteTM to ensure your hatch covers are watertight, it is possible to prevent cargo damage and also avoid failing inspection by the Insurance and Charterers’ surveyor;
  • early detection reduces cost: by detecting any leaks or areas that lack the necessary compression at an early stage the cost of repairs can often be reduced. Also finding any potential problems early can help avoid damage to cargo that can prove costly both to the operator’s finances and its company’s reputation;
  • identify exact location of cargo hatch leaks: unlike hose and chalk tests, HatchtiteTM makes it possible to identify the exact location of the leak — saving time. Another advantage over the hose test, which only demonstrates whether or not there is contact between the rubber packing and compression bar, HatchtiteTM indicates when the required compression to prevent water getting in to the hold space has been achieved, meaning it is possible to identify any leaks very early and thus reduce repair costs;
  • single crew member operation: the simplified testing procedure of HatchtiteTM removes the need for a crew member to be inside the cargo hold during the test which means that the testing can be carried out by a single member of crew;
  • test your hatches even when carrying cargo: HatchtiteTM uses a transmitter placed inside the cargo hold emitting ultrasound waves. With the hatch covers closed, a hand held telescopic microphone is used at the hatch cover interfaces. The unit can even be used with partially or fully filled cargo holds meaning testing can be carried out at any time without interrupting the ship’s operations.


The system is Type Approved by ABS, fully compliant with IACS Unified Requirement U.R.Z17 and approved by insurers and P & I clubs.


There are stringent regulations in place in terms of gas detection requirements on board bulk carriers, particularly concerning the safe transportation of coal.

Vessels shipping coal should at all times carry on board instruments for measuring methane, oxygen and carbon monoxide gas concentrations, so that the atmosphere within the cargo space can be monitored. The instrument should be regularly serviced and calibrated so that it can provide the crewmembers with reliable data about the atmosphere within the cargo space. Care needs to be exercised in interpreting methane measurements carried out in the low oxygen concentrations often found in unventilated cargo holds.

There are four categories of coal: this is a mixture of solid coal containing water

  • coal slurry: and is obtained as a by-product during mining. The coal particle size is usually less than 1mm. It is regarded as a cargo that may liquefy due to its high moisture content.
  • coal duff: this is a mixture of coal and water with the largest coal particles around 7mm. Less liable to liquefaction than coal slurry, but does require its moisture content to be monitored.
  • coke: solid residues obtained by distillation of petroleum products, or half burnt coal with less gas content but with a tendency to absorb moisture at up to 20% by weight;
  • small coal: contains particles of coal less than 7mm in size; small coal is likely to develop a flow state due to its high moisture content.

According to IMO classification, coal is considered MHB (materials hazardous in bulk). Three characteristics of coal need to be considered:


  • methane emission: most coals emit methane, which is highly explosive if a gas concentration of 516% is present in atmosphere. A naked flame or spark is sufficient to ignite it. Methane is lighter than air and so it flows towards the top empty part of the cargo compartment and may even travel to adjacent compartments, including a hatch top. Coals that emit methane should be monitored carefully and, if the methane level becomes unacceptable, surface ventilation should be carried out as recommended by the IMSBC Code.
  • spontaneous combustion: some coals are liable to spontaneous combustion due to the presence of moisture that causes exothermic oxidation (a reaction that results in production of heat) of coal at ambient temperature. If this heat is not dissipated, the temperature rises and the coal may ignite.
  • corrosion: some types of coal react with water to produce acids that can cause excessive corrosion of the ship’s structure, known as ‘cargo corrosion’. As a result of the chemical reaction during the process of forming acid and then corrosion, colourless and odourless gases such as hydrogen are produced.