August 10, 2009

2010 SOLAS Deadline

Important to know for anyone researching used vessels:

**[2010 SOLAS Deadline Looms For Older Ships](**

> For some of cruising’s older ships, 2010 is a watershed that could see them sent off to the breakers’ yard. That’s because on October 1, 2010, the [International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea]( (SOLAS) will require all ships of 167 signatory states making international voyages — including virtually every country where cruise ships are registered — to comply with the latest fire safety requirements. This means that for the first time, the latest regulations will apply even to the oldest ships as the grandfather clauses protecting them will not longer apply. If your favorite ship was built before 1980, its future beyond that date could be in question.

> Among the major points in the latest rules are requirements that there be two means of egress from all atrium levels; low-level lighting systems; installation of smoke detectors, sprinklers, fire detectors and fire alarm systems in all accommodations and service areas; and fireproof enclosures around all stairways. Most of these rules went into effect by October 1, 2005, which means all ships in service today already comply. But full compliance with the latest SOLAS regulations won’t be required until 2010, when all ships regardless of age will be required to be free of almost all combustible materials in their construction. Many ships built before 1980, and especially those built before the 1970’s, were constructed under older rules that allowed combustible materials. Replacing all the combustible materials in these ships may be prohibitively expensive, and owners may choose to scrap them instead and take the opportunity to replace them with more modern ships that more easily comply with today’s stringent safety standards.

This would definitely apply to any used ship bought and put into service again carrying passengers between ports – it must be brought up to SOLAS standards, or the port and/or flagging state will object. If you just anchored a flagless ship offshore, I’m not sure if SOLAS applies, but it might be a good idea to follow it for PR purposes. It’s a tricky question about when to break the rules: on the one hand, ignoring the new SOLAS could let a group snap up a ship that no one else can use for scrap prices. On the other hand, it makes the operation look unsafe and shady from the beginning, to ports, shipyards, flagging states, etc.