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2020 Regulatory Agenda: What you should know

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The year 2020 has been eagerly anticipated by the maritime industry for the switch to a low-sulphur fuel environment. However, from January 1st of 2020, there are other regulations that take effect as well apart from the IMO Sulphur cap.  Discussions during IMO Meeting and preparations have been ongoing and with immediate implementation, the first day of the year is expected to be dominated by many amendments to SOLAS Chapters, MARPOL Annexes and Code revisions.

The year ahead will inevitably be a year of change and challenges and much of what maritime professionals must be aware of involves the following issues:

SOLAS amendments

#1 Protection against noise (Amendments to SOLAS II-1/3-12)

Because of a discrepancy in the application of the Code on Noise Levels on Board Ships, there has been a necessary amendment through a minor modification, in paragraph 2.1 of Chapter II-1/ Regulation 3-12. Namely, according to MSC.409(97), the existing paragraph 2.1 is amended to read as follows:

“.1 contracted for construction before 1 July 2014 and the keels of which are laid or which are at a similar stage of construction on or after 1 January 2009; or’’

#2 Damage control drills for passenger ships (Amendments to SOLAS II-1/19, III/30 and III/37)

Amendments to SOLAS chapter II-1 regulation 19 and chapter III regulations 30 and 37 to mandate damage control drills were adopted. The requirements are operational in nature with drills required at regular intervals for all passenger ships. According to MSC.421(98), the drills will have to involve crew members who have damage control responsibilities. Additionally, drills will have to be recorded and should cover different damage scenarios.

#3 Fire integrity of windows on passenger ships (Amendments to SOLAS regulation II-2/20)

According to MSC.421(98), Amendments to SOLAS regulation II-2/20 were drafted to clarify the requirements in chapter II-2 for the fire integrity of windows on passenger ships carrying not more than 36 passengers and special purpose ships with more than 60 (but no more than 240) persons on board. The amendments explicitly require that for ships carrying not more than 36 passengers, windows facing survival craft and escape slides, embarkation areas and windows situated below such areas shall have a fire integrity at least equal to “A-0” class.

#4 Fire protection of domestic boilers (Amendments to SOLAS Chapter II-2/10.5)

The text of regulation II-2/ has been amended. Prior to the amendment domestic boilers of less than 175kW were not required to carry an approved 135l foam-type fire extinguisher. The 135l foam extinguishers are now not required for boilers that are protected by a fixed local water-based firefighting system. Namely, according to MSC.409(97), in paragraph, the last sentence is replaced with the following:

“In the case of domestic boilers of less than 175 kW, or boilers protected by fixed water-based local application fire-extinguishing systems as required by paragraph 5.6, an approved foam-type extinguisher of at least 135 l capacity is not required.”

#5 Evacuation analysis now mandatory (Amendments to SOLAS II-2/13)

Existing paragraph II-2/13.7.4 is deleted. New paragraphs II-2/ and II-2/ have been introduced which require escape routes to be evaluated to demonstrate that the ship can be evacuated in the required time. According to MSC.404(96), the evacuation simulation will be used to identify and eliminate congestion which may develop during abandonment and demonstrate that escape arrangements are sufficiently flexible to provide for the possibility that certain routes/areas may not be available as a result of a casualty.

#6 Helicopter facility foam firefighting appliances (Amendments to SOLAS Regulation II-2/18 and the FSS Code Chapter 17)

MSC.404(96) states that amendments to SOLAS II-2/18 have a new paragraph 2.3 to require a foam application system that complies with the new chapter 17 of the FSS Code. The new Chapter 17 of the FSS Code details the specifications for foam firefighting appliances for the protection of helidecks and helicopter landing areas as required by chapter II-2 of SOLAS. As per MSC.403(96), for helicopter landing areas, at least two portable foam applicators or two hose reel foam stations shall be provided, each capable of discharging a minimum foam solution discharge rate.

#7 Fire safety requirements for cargo spaces containing vehicles with fuel in their tanks for their own propulsion (Amendments to SOLAS II-2/20)

Cargo spaces on all ships used for the transport of motor vehicles

(a) with fuel in their tanks for their own propulsion, that are loaded/unloaded into cargo spaces which do not meet the requirements of SOLAS II-2/20, “Protection of vehicle, special category and ro-ro spaces”; and

(b) that do not use their own propulsion within the cargo space

are not required to comply with SOLAS II-2/20 provided the vehicles are carried in compliance with the appropriate requirements of regulation 19 and the IMDG Code, as defined in SOLAS VII/1.1, in accordance with MSC.421(98)

#8 Requirements for lifeboats and rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear (Amendments to SOLAS Regulations III/3 and III/20)

The SOLAS amendments and associated MSC Resolution (MSC.402(96)) include explicit mandatory text clarifying the requirements for the qualification, authorization and certification of service suppliers, procedures for maintenance and testing, and what should be carried out at each stage of testing (weekly, monthly, annually, and 5-yearly).

#9 Mobile Satellite Service (Amendments to Chapter IV)

Various regulations of Chapter IV and the Record of Equipment model form were amended to remove references to “Inmarsat” and replace with references to “a recognized mobile satellite service”. MSC.436(99) clarifies that as a recognized mobile satellite service is defined any service which operates through a satellite system and is recognized by the Organization, for use in the global maritime distress and safety system (GMDSS)

#10 Harmonization of survey periods of cargo ships not subject to the ESP Code (SOLAS XI-1/2)

New regulation of SOLAS Chapter XI-1 revised the SOLAS Safety Construction Renewal Survey window for cargo ships which are not subject to the Enhanced Survey Program Code, so as to be harmonized with the Renewal Survey window under the ESP Code. MSC.409(97) states ‘’ For cargo ships not subject to enhanced surveys under regulation XI-1/2, notwithstanding any other provisions, the intermediate and renewal surveys included in regulation I/10 may be carried out and completed over the corresponding periods as specified in the 2011 ESP Code, as may beamended, and the guidelines developed by the Organization, as appropriate’’

#11 Damage Stability Explanatory Notes (SOLAS II-1)

Explanatory notes correspond to the extensive revisions of SOLAS chapter II-1, adopted by resolution MSC.421(98).

#12 INS performance standards (SOLAS V/18 ) – from 1st of July, 2020

Integrated Navigation Systems should comply with the revised performance standards, as per MSC.452(99) and MSC.252(83)

Amendments/ Revisions of Codes

#1 FSS Code, Chapter 8 – Automatic Sprinkler, Fire Detection and Fire Alarm Systems

MSC.1/Circ.1516 includes a new provision for water quality testing for automatic sprinkler systems and new flow charts for the testing and replacement of sprinkler heads and water mist nozzles. The related amendment to Chapter 8 of the FSS Code adds a new requirement for special attention to be paid to the specification of water quality provided by the system manufacturer, to prevent internal corrosion and clogging of sprinklers.

#2 IGC Code – Applicable fire integrity of wheelhouse windows

The IGC code has been revised to align with the requirements given in the SOLAS regulation II-2/ The amendments remove the requirement for A-0 fire-rated wheelhouse windows. Namely, MSC.411(97) states:

“3.2.5 Windows and sidescuttles facing the cargo area and on the sides of the superstructures and deckhouses within the limits specified in 3.2.4, except wheelhouse windows, shall be constructed to “A-60″ class. Sidescuttles in the shell below the uppermost continuous deck and in the first tier of the superstructure or deckhouse shall be of fixed (non-opening) type.”

#3 IGF Code – Regulations for fire protection

The amendments remove the requirement for A-0 fire-rated wheelhouse windows, as per MSC.422(98)

#4 LSA Code – Amendments on winches and winch brakes

Corrections to the provisions relating to winch and winch brake test loads as prescribed in the LSA Code. MSC.425(98) clarifies that ‘’ Structural members and all blocks, falls, padeyes, links, fastenings and all other fittings used in connection with launching equipment shall be designed with a factor of safety on the basis of the maximum working load assigned and the ultimate strengths of the materials used for construction. A minimum factor of safety of 4.5 shall be applied to all structural members including winch structural components and a minimum factor of safety of 6 shall be applied to falls, suspension chains, links and blocks’’

#5 2008 Intact Stability (IS) Code – anchor handling, towing or lifting operations

The Introduction and Part A of the 2008 IS Code have been amended to include new definitions and clarification about the new criteria. The new criteria require an assessment of the ship’s intact stability when undertaking anchor handling, towing or lifting duties. The new criteria in Part B also require an assessment of the ship’s intact stability when undertaking towing and lifting operations.

Additional constructional matters are included in the amendments to part B of the 2008 IS Code covering the provision of a loading instrument, access to the machinery space, location of freeing ports, winch systems and on deck markings.

The footnote to title of chapter 2, General Criteria, of Part A of IS Code is deleted, to remove any misunderstanding that the referenced regulations of Part B become mandatory via a footnote.

#6 1994 and 2000 HSC Codes

New text to chapter 8 – Life Saving Appliances and Arrangements has been agreed. High-speed craft of less than 30m (2000 HSC Code) and 20m (1994 HSC Code) in length may be exempted from carrying a rescue boat, provided that the requirements in the sub-paragraphs of are fulfilled, and provided a person can be rescued from the water in a horizontal or near-horizontal body position (MSC.1/Circ.1185/Rev.1).

#7 2009 MODU Code – Installations in hazardous areas, Fire Safety, LSA and Operational procedures

Chapters 1, 6, 8, 9, 10, 13 and 14 of the 2009 MODU Code have been amended. As per MSC.435(98),  revisions to the text include defining the ‘H’ class fire protection standard, changes to the required drills, provision of a dedicated rescue boat and allowing multiple fixed monitors to be used as an alternative to the drill floor fixed pressure water-spraying system.

#8 IGC Code – Stability PC

An approved stability instrument capable of verifying compliance with the applicable intact and damage stability requirements is to be fitted onboard. The approval generally applies to the software using MSC.1/Circ.1229, but it may include hardware. This resolution revises the model form of the Certificate of Fitness for Carriage of Liquefied Gases in Bulk to reflect confirmation of this instrument or an accepted alternative during surveys.

#9 BCH & IBC Code – Stability PC

An approved stability instrument capable of verifying compliance with the applicable intact and damage stability requirements is to be fitted onboard. The approval generally applies to the software using MSC.1/Circ.1229, but it may include hardware. This resolution revises the model form of the Certificate of Fitness for Carriage of Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk to reflect confirmation of this instrument or an accepted alternative during surveys.

#10 FTP Code Revision – Fire protection provisions

The Code for Application of Fire Test Procedures, 2010, was revised by resolution MSC.437(99) to be consistent with SOLAS Chapter II which applies the same fire protection provisions for exposed floor coverings on passenger ships carrying not more than 36 passengers with those carrying more than 36 passengers.

#11 FSS Code Chapter 13 – Arrangement of Means of Escape

A revision has been made to distribution of persons, case 2 for passenger ship evacuation analysis, for the purpose of clarifying the distribution of crew in public places. In particular, MSC.410(97) mentions that ‘’Passengers in public spaces occupied to 3/4 of maximum capacity, 1/3 of the crew distributed in public spaces; service spaces occupied by 1/3 of the crew; and crew accommodation occupied by 1/3 of the crew’’

#12 International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code – Amendment 39-18

The IMDG Code amends the following classification categories:

  • Class 1: Explosives – hazard divisions for packages containing pyrotechnic substances are revised.
  • Class 3: Flammable liquids – the marking, labelling and testing of packages containing viscous liquids are revised.
  • Class 4: Flammable solids – revision of the classification of self-reactive substances.
  • Class 5: Oxidizing substances and organic peroxides – packing instructions and methods are revised. Class 8: Corrosive substances – a completely new Chapter 2.8 is adopted.
  • Class 9: Miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles, and environmentally hazardous substances – the marking and packaging of lithium batteries are consolidated. MSC.1/Circ.1588 recommends voluntary application of the amendments as of January 1, 2019.

#13 BCH Code – Model Form of Certificate of Fitness

Revised text has been added to the model form to correlate with recent amendments to paragraph 2.2.6 of the Code, which requires provision of an approved stability instrument onboard, or other approved methods for ensuring safe loading of cargoes.

#14 IBC Code- Model Form of Certificate of Fitness

Revised text has been added to the model form to correlate with recent amendments to paragraph 2.2.6 of the Code, which requires provision of an approved stability instrument onboard, or other approved methods for ensuring safe loading of cargoes.

#15 SPS Code Revisions

The form of the Record of Equipment for Compliance with the SPS Code (Form SPS) has been revised in the “Radio Facilities” section, to refer to the use of a “Recognized mobile satellite service ship earth station”, rather than referring to a “Inmarsat ship earth station”.

MARPOL Amendments

#1 Sulphur Content in Fuel Oil (MARPOL VI Regulation 14)

Sulphur content of any fuel oil used on board ships outside of Sox Emission Control Areas (Global Cap) shall not exceed 0.5% m/m on or after 1 January 2020.

#2 Ozone-depleting substances, Hydro chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) Refrigerants (MARPOL Annex VI)

According to MEPC.176(58), regulation 12 of MARPOL Annex VI states that installations which contain hydro chlorofluorocarbons shall be prohibited:

  • On ships constructed on or after 1st January 2020 or
  • In the case of ships constructed before 1st January 2020 which have a contractual date of the equipment to the ship on or after 1st January 2020, or in the absence of a contractual delivery date, the actual delivery of the equipment to the ship on or after 1st January 2020. However, this does not apply to permanently sealed equipment where there are no refrigerant charging connections or potentially removable components containing ozone depleting substances.

#3 Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) (New Chapter 4 of MARPOL Annex VI)

The CO2 reduction level includes three phases; Phase 2 starts on 01/01/2020.

The new chapter 4 Regulations on energy efficiency for ships to MARPOL Annex VI, makes mandatory the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), for new ships, and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) for all ships. Other amendments to Annex VI add new definitions and the requirements for survey and certification, including the format for the International Energy Efficiency Certificate.

EEDI reflects the amount of CO2 generated per tonne-mile (cargo carrying capacity). It constitutes a uniform approach to calculating a ship’s energy efficiency during design and building of new ships and will be used to control CO2 levels emitted for future ships by encouraging improvements in ship design.

#4 Ship Fuel Oil Consumption Database Guidelines (MARPOL VI)

These 2017 Guidelines provide guidance to assist:

  • Administrations in developing their program to verify ship’s fuel oil consumption data
  • The IMO Secretariat on the development and management of the IMO Ship Fuel Oil Consumption Database, and describe methods that will be used to anonymize ship data to ensure the completeness of the database.

Other Regulations

#1 At Berth Ocean Going Vessels Regulation

Regulation applies to container-ship, passenger-ship, and refrigeratedcargo ship fleets that visit the same California port at least:

  1. 25 times per year for container-ship and refrigerated cargo ship or
  2. 5 times per year for passenger ships.

Two options for compliance are provided:

  • Reduced onboard generation option: 80% of the fleet’s port visits must comply with regulations specifying a 3 hour or 5 hour total limit (dependent on power arrangements in port) for auxiliary diesel engine use while berthed.
  • Equivalent emissions reduction option: NOx and particulate matter emissions must be reduced by 80% from the fleet’s baseline.

#2 IRNSS performance standards [from 1st of July, 2020]

IRNSS is compatible with other navigation satellite systems worldwide. It comprises three major components: space segment, ground control segment and user terminals. According to MSC.449(99), the IRNSS receiver equipment should include the following minimum facilities:

  1. antenna capable of receiving IRNSS signals;
  2. IRNSS receiver and processor;
  • means of accessing the computed latitude/longitude position;
  1. data control and interface; and
  2. position display and, if required, other forms of output

#3 Ballast Water Management System Code Approval  [from 28th of October, 2020)

5 years later, with endless discussions, negotiations and multiple revisions of the G8, the IMO decided that a new BWMS Code (which is a revised G8) is to become mandatory for all BWMS that will be installed onboard ships after 28 October 2020. This means that in order to install a BWMS after 28 October 2020, that BWMS must be type approved following the BWMS Code.

Namely, BWM systems are to be approved in accordance with the new Code for Approval of BWMS, which incorporates and is technically consistent with the 2016 G8 Guidelines. Upon entry into force of the BWMS Code, the 2016 G8 Guidelines will be revoked. BWM systems installed before 28 October 2020 may be approved taking into account the earlier G8 Guidelines developed by the IMO.

Why IMO number is important for vessels?

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The IMO Ship Identification Number is a unique seven-digit number which remains unchanged through a vessel’s lifetime and is linked to its hull, regardless of any changes of names, flags, or owners.

In fact, the IMO number is a unique seven digit number that is assigned to propelled, sea-going merchant ships of 100 GT and above upon keel laying, with the exception of ships without mechanical means of propulsion; pleasure yachts; ships engaged on special service, such as lightships; hopper barges; hydrofoils, air cushion vehicles; floating docks and structures classified in a similar manner; ships of war, troopships as well as wooden ships.

The IMO number is a mandatory prerequisite for sailing through the SOLAS regulation XI/3 which was adopted in 1994; in fact, specific criteria for passenger ships of 100 gross tonnage and upwards and all cargo ships of 300 gross tonnage and upwards were agreed. Further to this, the records based on the IMO number also require an independent audit trail for each vessel.

The scheme was further applied to fishing vessels in 2013, and the eligibility criteria were amended in 2016 to cover smaller and non-steel hull vessels. In particular, the IMO number is assigned to the total portion of the hull enclosing the machinery space and can play the determining factor, should additional sections be added.

For new vessels, the IMO number is assigned to a hull during construction, generally upon keel laying. The SOLAS regulation XI-1/3 requires ships’ identification numbers to be permanently marked in a visible place either on the ship’s hull or superstructure. Passenger ships should carry the marking on a horizontal surface visible from the air and vessels should also be marked with their ID numbers internally.

This number remains unchanged and is never reassigned regardless of any changes concerning the ship’s owner, country of registration, name or transfer to other flags and should be inserted in the ship’s certificates. It is also important to note that this number is separate and different from the official number issued by the vessel’s flag administration which is only internally used and cannot replace the IMO number.

IMO notes that the IMO ship identification number scheme, which was introduced in 1987 through adoption of resolution A.600(15), can act as a measure aimed at enhancing “maritime safety, and pollution prevention and to facilitate the prevention of maritime fraud.” It aims at assigning a permanent number to each ship for identification purposes.

IMO numbers can be an essential tool in shipping because they help to improve monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement of operations, as they allow flag states to accurately manage vessels under their authority; give national authorities information to help them police their waters more effectively; bring clarity and consistency to legal records; and help governments determine whether vessels are authorized to be in their waters.

All in all, having an IMO number is a prerequisite for selling and can be the best way to track and locate a vessel’s history since each number is unique and is the only identification that remains with a vessel from shipyard to scrapyard, regardless of all other modifications. Indeed, the IMO number is recognized by most governments and regional fisheries organizations and is considered the best available global identification system for ships.

IMO Navigation Rules at Straits of Malacca and Singapore

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Vessels navigating in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore are required to comply with the ‘Rules For Vessels Navigating Through the Straits of Malacca and Singapore’ adopted by the IMO Maritime Safety Committee 69 in 1998, in accordance with the provision of Resolution A.858(20), the MPA Singapore reminded.

In a new Port Marine Circular, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore reiterated to Masters and Bridge Resource Management teams, in particular those on board deep draught vessels (DDVs1 ) and very large crude carriers (VLCCs2 ) transiting in the westbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme and precautionary areas of the Singapore Strait, shall:

a) Allow for an under keel clearance of at least 3.5 metres at all times during the entire passage through the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.

b) As far as it is safe and practicable, proceed at speed of not more than 12 knots over grounds in the westbound lanes between positions 01°12·51’N, 103°52·15’E and 01°11·59’N, 103°50·21’E and between position 01°11·13’N 103°49·08’E and 01°08·65’N, 103°44·30’E. (Between South of St John’s Island to Raffles Lighthouse).

The IMO Circular SN/Cir.198 provides information on the ‘Rules For Vessels Navigating Through the Straits of Malacca and Singapore’:

  • Rule 1: Eastbound deep draught vessels shall use the designated deep-water routes.
  • Rule 2: Eastbound deep draught vessels navigating in the deep-water routes in Phillip Channel and Singapore Strait shall as far as practicable, avoid overtaking.
  • Rule 3: All vessels navigating within the traffic separation scheme shall proceed in the appropriate traffic lane in the general direction of traffic flow for that lane and maintain as steady a course as possible, consistent with safe navigation.
  • Rule 4: All vessels having defects affecting operational safety shall take appropriate measures to overcome these defects before entering the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.
  • Rule 5: In the event of an emergency or breakdown of a vessel in the traffic lane, the vessel shall, as far as practicable and safe, leave the lane by pulling out to the starboard side.
  • Rule 6:

(a) Vessels proceeding in the westbound lane of the traffic separation scheme “In the Singapore Strait” when approaching Raffles Lighthouse shall proceed with caution, taking note of the local warning system, and, compliance with Rule 18(d) of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972, avoid impeding the safe passage of a vessel constrained by her draught which is exhibiting the signals required by Rule 28 and which is obliged to cross the westbound lane of the scheme in order to approach the single point mooring facility (in approximate position 01°11·42’N, 103°47·40’E, from Phillip Channel).
(b) Vessels proceeding in the traffic separation schemes when approaching any of the precautionary areas shall proceed with caution, taking note of the local warning system, and, in compliance with Rule 18 (d) of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972, avoid impeding the safe passage of a vessel constrained by her draught which is exhibiting the signals required by Rule 28 and which is obliged to cross that precautionary area.
(c) Information relating to the movement of ships constrained by their draught as referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b) above will be given by radio broadcasts. The particulars of such broadcasts are promulgated by Notices to Mariners. All vessels navigating in the area of the traffic separation scheme should monitor these radio broadcasts and take account of the information received.

  • Rule 7: VLCCs and deep draught vessels navigating in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore shall as far as it is safe and practicable, proceed at a speed of not more than 12 knots over the ground in the following areas: a) At One Fathom Bank traffic separation scheme ; b) Deep-water routes in the Phillip Channel and in Singapore Strait; and c) Westbound lanes between positions 01°12·51’N, 103°52·15’E and 01°11·59’N, 103°50·21’E and between position 01°11·13’N 103°49·08’E and 01°08·65’N, 103°44·30’E.
  • Rule 8: All vessels navigating in the routeing system of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore shall maintain at all times a safe speed consistent with safe navigation, shall proceed with caution, and shall be in a maximum state of manoeuvring readiness.
  • Rule 9: (a) Vessels which are fitted with VHF radio communication are to participate in the ship reporting system adopted by the Organization. (b) VLCCs and deep draught vessels navigating in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore are advised to broadcast, eight hours before entering the traffic separation schemes, navigational information giving name, deadweight tonnage, draught, speed and times of passing One Fathom Bank Lighthouse, Raffles Lighthouse and Horsburgh Lighthouse. Difficult and unwieldy tows are also advised to broadcast similar information.
  • Rule 10: All vessels navigating in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore are requested to report by radio to the nearest shore authority any damage to or malfunction of the aids to navigation in the Straits, or any aids out of position in the Straits.
  • Rule 11: Flag States, owners and operators should ensure that their vessels are adequately equipped in accordance with the appropriate international conventions/recommendations.


Do you know what Plimsoll lines on ships are?

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Have you ever wondered what Plimsoll lines are? And why are they called Plimsoll? Professionals across the shipping industry may be familiar with the term, but even those not working in the industry, but who are extra observative, may have noticed that ships have some line marks on their hull, just above the waterline. These are Plimsoll lines.

What it is

The Plimsoll line (also known as a Load Line or the International Load line) is a reference mark located on a ship’s hull that indicates the maximum depth to which the vessel may be safely immersed when loaded with cargo.

Why it is useful

It is evident that there is not a standard maximum height into which a ship is allowed to immerse, but the maximum allowed depth varies depending on the conditions, for example:

  • the ship’s dimensions,
  • the type of cargo carried,
  • the time of year, and
  • the water densities encountered in port and at sea.

Considering the above factors, a ship’s captain can determine the appropriate Plimsoll line needed for the voyage. As such, load limits are calculated for each type of operating environment into the following levels:

TF = Tropical Fresh Water

T = Tropical

F = Fresh Water

S = Summer

W = Winter

WNA = Winter North Atlantic

There are also two letters with the name of the authority setting the load limit

Why ‘Plimsoll’?

The name comes from Samuel Plimsoll (1824–1898), a member of the British Parliament, who expressed concerns in regard to the loss of ships and crews from vessel overloading.

In 1876, he persuaded Parliament to pass the Unseaworthy Ships Bill. This mandated marking a ship’s sides with a line that would disappear below the waterline if the ship was overloaded.

The line is found midship on both the port and starboard hulls of cargo vessels and is still used widely in shipping.

The original Plimsoll Mark was a circle with a horizontal line through it to indicate the maximum draft of a particular ship. Additional marks have been added over the years, taking into consideration different water densities.

It makes no wonder that Samuel Plimsoll has passed through history as the ‘Friend of Sailor’.

Did you know?

At first, the Act allowed the shipowners to paint the line where they saw fit. It was not until 1890 that Board of Trade officials applied the regulations that Plimsoll had intended and the line was painted on the side of all ships.

Regulatory framework 

The first International Convention on Load Lines, adopted in 1930, was based on the principle of reserve buoyancy, although it was recognized then that the freeboard should also ensure adequate stability and avoid excessive stress on the ship’s hull as a result of overloading.

IMO adopted the existing Load Lines Convention in 1966, setting limitations on the draught to which a ship may be loaded and thus making a significant contribution to shipping safety.

The limits, defined under the treaty, are given in the form of freeboards. The treaty takes into account the potential hazards present in different ocean zones and different seasons.

In March, Georgia became the 112th State to accede to the International Convention on Load Lines.


Load Line Convention rules do not apply to certain types of vessels, such as:

  • warships,
  • new ships of 24 length or less,
  • existing ships of less than 150 GT,
  • pleasure yachts not engaged in trade and
  • fishing vessels.

There are also some exemptions by geographical area:

  • the Great Lakes of North America and the River St. Lawrence as far east as a rhumb line drawn from Cap des Rosiers to West Point, Anticosti Island, and, on the north side of Anticosti Island, the meridian of longitude 63° W;
  • the Caspian Sea;
  • the Plate, Parana and Uruguay Rivers as far east as a rhumb line drawn between Punta Norte, Argentina, and Punta del Este, Uruguay.

150 years of the Suez Canal-Flashback in maritime history–Suez Canal opened to shipping 17 November 1869

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The Suez Canal opened to shipping on 17 November 1869,the Suez Canal remains main gateway for global trade.

The Suez Canal was opened 150 years ago. Ever since, Egyptians have had great expectations of the international waterway – it generates significant income, but it also plays a larger role as a national symbol. The canal is a short artificial shipping route linking the Mediterranean and Red seas, and Asia and Europe.

Since its inception and until today, the canal is the main gateway for the global trade movement and a prime shipping destination due to its unique geographical position. The waterway was the brainchild and obsession of dominate European powers in the 19th century who saw it as a massive shortcut for trade routes going to India and Asia as previously they would have to sail around Africa.

The shortcut would spare them precious time and money for their trade fleet expeditions. The canal stretches from the Egyptian city of Port Saeed on the Mediterranean Sea to the Port of Suez on the Red Sea. When built, it was 164 kilometres long and eight metres deep. Upgrade works have since expanded it, raising its depth to 24 metres.

It has tremendous significance because of its strategic location which has made it the centre of and a witness to regional wars that forced its shutdown on several occasions. In 1956, then-president Jamal Abdul Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal, in a defiant and anti-imperial act that the international media dubbed “The Suez Crisis”.

Who first came up with the idea to build the canal?

French explorer Napoleon Bonaparte came up with the idea while commanding a French expedition to Egypt in 1789.

He thought that such a canal would give France a strategic advantage in the trade and shipping industry to its then-rival, Great Britain. The idea never came to fruition because of a mistake made by his surveyors. They thought that the levels of the two seas were too high and the project would flood Egypt’s Nile Delta.

However, the idea did not die there.

In 1854, Ferdinand de Lesseps, France’s then-assistant consul in the Egyptian Mediterranean city of Alexandria, convinced Egypt’s ruler Mohammad Saeed of a similar project and secured his approval. Four years later, the Universal Company of the Maritime Suez Canal, co-owned by France and Egypt, was established to build the proposed waterway and operate it for 99 years.

How long did it take to build?

10 years. Digging the canal began on April 25, 1859.Around one million Egyptians, mostly peasants, were recruited to do the job under harsh conditions including poor wages. They had to remove about 74 million cubic metres of earth. Around 120,000 of the labour died in the process due to food shortages, lack of health care and ill-treatment.

The canal was completed in 1869 at a cost of 433 million francs.

How was the canal inaugurated?

In preparation for its grand opening, Egypt’s ruler Khedive Ismael, who succeeded Saeed in 1863, travelled to Europe to invite royals, heads of the governments and leading politicians to the lavish inauguration.

On November 17, 1869, the canal was opened for international navigation with an extravaganza in Port Saeed where 6,000 guests gathered to celebrate.

Among the attendees were European dignitaries including Napoleon III’s wife, Empress Eugenie de Montijo.Guns fired celebratory shots in honour of top guests including Empress Eugenie of France.Some 6,000 chefs served the dignitaries.

In Cairo, an opera house was also opened in conjunction with the canal’s launch. The celebrations cost about 1 million pounds sterling, according to some historians.

How did Britain get involved?

Just six years later, Britain purchased Egypt’s shares in the waterway for 400,000 pounds sterling after the latter’s debts mounted and teetered on the brink of bankruptcy.

However, France continued to have the majority stakes.

Amid tussles for control, major powers signed in 1888 the Constantinople Convention that gave the waterway international status and open to all ships in times of war and peace. Egypt was not a signatory.

The provision was not always respected, including during the two World Wars.

Although the 99-year contract of the Canal was valid until 1968, the operating company sought to extend it, taking advantage of Egypt’s dire financial situation.

In 1910, the company proposed to the Egyptian government to stretch the contract by 40 more years in return for giving Egypt a share of the profits.

The proposal, backed by the British occupiers of Egypt, sparked an outcry in the country. Egyptian nationalists, led by Mohammad Farid, campaigned against the proposed extension, seeing it as a new attempt to exploit their ancestors’ excruciating work in building the shipping route.

That year (1910) also saw the assassination of Egypt’s then prime minister Boutros Ghali, who favoured the extension.

Faced with public pressure, the Egyptian parliament rejected the extension offer, keeping the original 99-year concession that iconic nationalist leader Gamal Abdul Nasser terminated in 1956.

Nasser was a prominent member of a group of young army officers, who in 1952 toppled Egypt’s monarchy and installed a republican system in its place the following year.

The young revolutionaries sought to empower millions of poor Egyptian peasants and workers through a series of agrarian and labour reforms.

Upon taking office in June 1956, Nasser aimed to implement ambitious socio-economic development schemes geared towards achieving social justice and industrial progress in the country. His efforts earned him the epithet “the father of the poor”.

What was the Suez Crisis?

On June 26, 1956, Abdul Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal to use its revenues in constructing the High Dam, a hydroelectric facility, in Upper Egypt

In response, France and Britain froze Egypt’s assets in their banks.

Militarily, France, Britain and Israel waged tripartite attacks on Egypt marking the climax of what came to be known as the Suez Crisis.

Israel first initiated the attack on October 29, 1956, an act that was followed by an Anglo-French ultimatum to Egypt to allow British and French troops to take over the canal cities of Port Saeed, Ismailia and Suez allegedly to safeguard navigation in the waterway.

They gave Egypt 12 hours to respond. Hardly had Egypt rejected the ultimatum, when Britain and France started airs raids on Egyptian areas including Cairo, triggering Egyptians’ resistance and a global outcry.

The Israelis, Britons and their French allies had to halt their attacks and pull out of the Egyptian territory under international pressure

The hostilities forced the closure of the Canal until April 1957.

How did the 1967 war affect Suez Canal?

The 1967 War, which erupted on June 5, 1967 pitted Israel against several Arab countries including Egypt.

In May, 1967, Syria accused Israel of preparing to attack it.

In a show of solidarity with Syria, Nasser declared barring Israeli vessels from passing through the Red Sea Strait of Tiran, a move that Israel called a “hostile act”.

On June 5, 1967 Israel initiated the so-called Six-Day War that pitted it against Egypt, Syria and Jordan.

The war ended with Israel capturing the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the Palestinian Gaza Strip (which was under Egyptian administration); the West Bank from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria.

Military tensions between Egypt and Israel dragged on. Both were engaged in intermittent reciprocal attacks, which Egyptians dubbed the “war of Attrition” until a US-mediated ceasefire in August 1970.

The escalation forced the closure of the Canal for eight years.

During those years, the waterway was infested with various types of explosives and sunken ships.

On October 6,1973, Egypt mounted a surprise attack against Israeli forces in Sinai, an act that forced Israel to sit for negotiations.

Starting from 1974, Egypt mounted an internationally supported demining campaign with the aim of rehabilitating the Canal for safe shipping.

In a symbolic step, Egypt’s then president Anwar Al Sadat reopened the Canal to international navigation on June 5, 1975 after Cairo had sealed a military disengagement accord with Israel.

US-brokered talks between the two countries culminated in a historic peace treaty in 1979.

What is the New Suez Canal?

On August 6 2015, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi, joined by several world dignitaries, inaugurated a 35-kilometre two-direction extension to the original 193-kilometre canal.

The extension was meant to cut the waiting time for ships passing through the waterway to three hours instead of eight.

The eight-billion-dollar project was built in a record one year and wholly funded by Egyptians through certificates of deposits, reflecting public support for Al Sissi.

It also increases the daily average of transiting vessels to 97 ships by the year 2023, up from 49 ships on the old canal.

The major overhaul has furthermore provided direct non-stop transit for 45 ships in the two directions.

Why is the extension so important?

The extension is part of a multi-billion-dollar ambitious development scheme designed to turn Egypt into a global trade and logistics hub.

The large-scale project features six ports and four industrial zones.

The Egyptian government expects annual revenues from Suez Canal to hit 13.2 billion by the year 2023 against 5.9 billion dollars in the fiscal year 2018-19.

Egypt pins a lot of hopes on the expanded Suez Canal, already a key source of national income, to rejuvenate its ailing economy.

The hopes have recently started fulfilling after a spell of slump blamed on weak global trade and a plummet in oil prices.In October, the Canal’s revenues hit a record monthly of $515 million, according to a senior official.


An overview of SOLAS 2020 Amendments

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Several amendments of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) agreed in 2016, 2017 and 2018 are entering into force in less than three months, marking reforms to SOLAS and to international codes made mandatory under the SOLAS Convention.

The amendments entering into force from 1st January 2020 are:

-Amendments to requirements on subdivision and damage stability

Adopted: June 2017 (MSC 98)

IMO adopted a set of amendments to SOLAS chapter II-1 relating to subdivision and damage stability, following a substantive review of SOLAS chapter II-1 focusing particularly on new passenger ships. The review has taken into account recommendations arising from the investigation into the 2012 Costa Concordia incident.

The amendments aim to ensure increased capability for new passenger ships to remain stable in case of flooding after collision or grounding.

Unless otherwise provided, the amendments shall only apply to ships:

  • for which the building contract is placed on or after 1 January 2020; or
  • in the absence of a building contract, the keel of which is laid, or which are at a similar stage of construction on or after 1 July 2020; or
  • the delivery of which is on or after 1 January 2024.

In conjunction with the adoption of the above, the MSC adopted the Revised Explanatory Notes to SOLAS chapter II-1 subdivision and damage stability regulations.

The MSC also approved the revised guidance for watertight doors on passenger ships which may be opened during navigation.

-Amendments on passenger ships safety

Adopted: May 2018 (MSC 99)

IMO has adopted amendments to SOLAS regulations II-1/1 and II-1/8-1, concerning computerized stability support for the master in case of flooding for existing passenger ships.

“For the purpose of providing operational information to the master for safe return to port after a flooding casualty, passenger ships shall have:

  • an onboard stability computer; or
  • shore-based support, based on the guidelines developed by the Organization.”

-Amendments on damage control drills

Adopted: June 2017 (MSC 98)

Starting from January, amendments to SOLAS regulations III/1.4, III/30 and III/37 on damage control drills for passenger ships will require damage control drills to take place on all passenger ships every three months from 2020. 

-Definition of vehicle carrier and requirements for vehicle space

Adopted: November 2016 (MSC 97)

The amendments to SOLAS regulation II-2/3.56 relate to the definition of vehicle carrier and draft new SOLAS regulation II-2/20.2 on fire safety requirements for cargo spaces containing vehicles with fuel in their tanks for their own propulsion, specifically vehicles which do not use their own propulsion within the cargo space.

The MSC 97 considered the decisions of the Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment that only “pure car and truck carriers” needed to comply with SOLAS regulation II-2/20-1 and that the definition provided in SOLAS regulation II-2/3.56 should be amended accordingly, taking into account a proposal by Antigua and Barbuda, Germany, Norway and IACS.

-Fire integrity of windows for ships carrying not more than 36 passengers

Adopted: June 2017 (MSC 98)

The amendments to SOLAS regulation II-2/ seek to clarify the requirements for fire integrity of windows on passenger ships carrying not more than 36 passengers and on special purpose ships with more than 60 (but no more than 240) persons onboard.

Harmonization of survey periods of cargo ships not subject to the ESP Code

Adopted: November 2016 (MSC 97)

The harmonized system under regulation XI-1/2-1 provides for a one-year standard interval between surveys, based on initial, annual, intermediate, periodical and renewal surveys, except for MARPOL Annex IV, which is based on initial and renewal surveys. It also provides for a maximum period of validity of five years for all cargo ship certificates, as well as a maximum period of validity of 12 months for the Passenger Ship Safety Certificate.

-Amendments to the (FSS Code)

Adopted: November 2016 (MSC 97)

The amendments to the International Code for Fire Safety Systems are clarifying the distribution of crew in public spaces for the calculation of stairways width.

-Amendments to FTP Code

Adopted: November 2016 (MSC 97)

The amendments to annex 3 to the International Code for the Application of Fire Test Procedures, 2010 (2010 FTP Code) relate to fire protection materials and required approval test methods for passenger ships and high-speed craft. 

-Amendments to IGC Code

Adopted: November 2016 (MSC 97)

The Amendments to the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (IGC Code) are aligning the wheelhouse window fire-rating requirements in the IGC Code with those in SOLAS chapter II-2. 

Amendments to IMDG Code (Amendment 39-18)

Adopted: May 2018 (MSC 99)

The amendments are in line with recommendations from the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods and include:

  • new provisions regarding IMO type 9 tank,
  • a set of new abbreviations for segregation groups and
  • special provisions for carriage of lithium batteries and of vehicles powered by flammable liquid or gas. 

Amendments to the IS Code

Adopted: May 2016 (MSC 96)

The amendments to the 2008 International code on Intact Stability extend validity to:

  • ships engaged in anchor handling operations;
  • ships engaged in harbour, coastal or ocean-going towing operations and escort operations;
  • ships engaged in lifting operations 

-Modernization of the GMDSS

Adopted: May 2018 (MSC 99)

Also entering into force in 2020 are the amendments to chapter IV of SOLAS (Radio communications), and the appendix to the annex to the 1974 SOLAS Convention, replacing all references to “Inmarsat” with references to a “recognized mobile satellite service” and consequential amendments to the International Code of Safety for High speed Craft, 1994 (1994 HSC Code), the International Code of Safety for High-speed Craft, 2000 (2000 HSC Code) and the Code of Safety for Special Purpose Ships, 2008 (2008 SPS Code). 

-Amendments to the model forms of the Certificates of Fitness

Adopted: May 2018 (MSC 99)

The amendments are clarifying the requirement for an approved loading and stability manual/booklet to be supplied to the ship, under the:

  • International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code),
  • International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (IGC Code),
  • Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (BCH Code),
  • Code for Existing Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (EGC Code), and
  • the Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (GC Code). 

-Protection against noise

Adopted: November 2016 (MSC 97)

Under the amendments to SOLAS regulation II-1/3-12 on protection against noise, the existing paragraph 2.1 is amended to read as follows:

“.1 contracted for construction before 1 July 2014 and the keels of which are laid or which are at a similar stage of construction on or after 1 January 2009;


International Register of Shipping (INTLREG) to be the First RO to sign re-validation of the existing approval as per new regulations from MARINA

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International Register of Shipping (INTLREG) to be the First RO to sign re-validation of the existing approval as per new regulations from the Marina, The Maritime Industry Authority -Philippines.

International Register of Shipping (INTLREG ) and The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) governing the delegation of statutory certification and services for ships registered in the Philippines on 14 October 2019 at the MARINA Central Office.

MARINA Vice Admiral Narciso A Vingson Jr commended the IRS for accepting the duties and responsibilities as Recognized Organization to perform statutory certification and services to Philippine shipping companies and their Philippine-registered ships, pursuant to the Recognized Organization Code and the MARINA Circular No. 2018 – 01.

“It is my sincere hope that this joint endeavor will stand as one of a long and continuing list of meaningful collaborations between the MARINA and INTLREG. As our goal, that is to achieving harmonized global implementation of requirements established by international maritime instruments to ensure the safety of life at sea and protection of the marine environment,” VADM Vingson said.

VADM Vingson and Captain Everton Morris, Director of Certification, signed the MOA on behalf of the MARINA and INTLREG respectively. The signing was witnessed by Ms. Nannette Z. Villamor Dinopol, MARINA Deputy Administrator for Operations, and Ms. Catalina V. Thomas, IRS Operations Manager.

The MOA, as presented by the Director of the MARINA-Overseas Shipping Service (MARINA-OSS), Atty. Jean Ver P. Pia, consists of two (2) parts. The first part provides the main agreement which includes the application, purpose, general conditions, execution of functions, legal basis, interpretation, equivalents and exemptions, reporting to the flag state, development of rules and regulations, information and liaison, supervision/audit/oversight function and other conditions.

The second part contains the three (3) Annexes, which provide the list of applicable instruments, Degree of Authorization for a particular applicable document, and requirement of reporting to the MARINA.

Per MARINA Circular 2018-01, Recognized Organizations assessed by the Administration are authorized to carry out statutory certification and services under mandatory International Maritime Organization (IMO) and International Labour Organization (ILO) instruments, national legislations, rules and regulations, to Philippine shipping companies and their Philippine-registered ships engaged or shall engage in international voyages and domestic trade.

INTLREG is expanding surveyor network at Philippines with authorization for domestic as well as International vessels with the approval of MARINA (Maritime Industry Authority).

Our Services include: –

  1. Classification & Statutory Surveys –
  2. ISM Internal & External Audits –
  3. New Build Services

INTLREG is fully approved for classification and statutory certification by the MARINA for vessels flying the Philippines flag with an exclusive survey station based in Manila.

To request classification or statutory certification services or to coordinate a survey or ISM Audits or New Build Services  please contact :




Do you know why So Many Ships Are Red On The Bottom ?

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Chances are you have never salvaged a vessel yourself or you have (hopefully) never seen a vessel upside down. But in case you have seen photos of a shipwreck or of a new ship getting launched from shipyard, you may have noticed that the bottom of a ship is most times red.

While many may have never really thought about this until reading this article, others, who do have noticed, may think that there is no apparent reason for a ship to be painted in an area which is always below the waterline and nobody normally sees it.

Either way,

…have you ever wondered why most ships are red on bottom?

Reason 1: The answer can be spotted again in tradition. Shipping is a tradition-oriented industry and if it is hard to believe, just remember ships are called ‘she’ based on an old nautical tradition or ask how much paperwork crews have to deal with every day.

But let us take things from the beginning.

Among the many challenges a ship has to encounter during its journey at sea is biofouling, which refers to the accumulation of various aquatic organisms at the ship’s hull, such as plant life and barnacles, as well as worms that eat hulls.

Except for transferring invasive aquatic species from one sea ecosystem to another and affecting marine life normality in each of them, this accumulation is responsible for deteriorating the ship’s structural integrity but, more importantly, for causing the ship to run slower and, consequently, burn more fuel.

Shipbuilders of the early years of shipping would use a copper coating as a biocide, to prevent organotins from sticking on the vessel’s hull. That copper coating was responsible for the ship’s red color.

In the 21st century, it is more than obvious that antifouling coatings can be mixed with any color. So why ships insist on red? It is nautical tradition, of course!

Did you know?

-Due to lack of a global regulatory framework on biofouling, local governments are developing their own unilateral regulations, most notably:

  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • US (Federal Law)
  • The state of California

-In March 2019, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and IMO kicked off the five-year GloFouling Partnerships project, to address bioinvasions by organisms which can build up on ships’ hulls and other marine structures.

Reason 2: Another reason can be traced in the contrast of red hull to the sea water, which demonstrates if the load of cargo is overweight: The more cargo a ship is carrying, the deeper it enters the water. In the same context of ‘contrast’, the red color at sea can be very easily captured by passing-by helicopters in case of an emergency. 

Fatal accident of a crew struck by a portable gangway

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When a Hong Kong registered chemical tanker was at berth, the vessel’s portable gangway (the gangway) was placed between the main deck of the vessel and the berth as access. Before departure, when the gangway was being lifted back on board by the vessel’s crane, it struck at the chief officer. The chief officer went ashore for medical treatment, but he refused the doctor’s advice of hospitalization. He returned to the vessel and was declared dead on board later. This Note draws the attention of shipowners, ship managers, ship operators, masters, officers and crew to the lessons learnt from this accident.

The Incident

1. When a Hong Kong registered chemical tanker was berthed at Kuala Tanjung, Indonesia, the vessel’s portable gangway (the gangway) was placed between the main deck and the berth as access. By using the vessel’s crane, the chief officer led a team of deck ratings to lift the gangway back on board before departure from the berth. While the chief officer was investigating the cause that made the gangway got stuck with the vessel’s railing, the gangway suddenly moved and struck at him. The master conducted a visual body check for the chief officer and instructed him to take a rest. The vessel departed the port as per her schedule. The chief officer visited a doctor when the vessel arrived at Pelintung, Indonesia on the next day, but he refused the doctor’s advice of hospitalization. The chief officer returned to the vessel and was declared dead on board later.

2. The investigation revealed that the contributing factors to the accident are as follows:

  1. (a)  as the crane, limited by the arm span, could not reach the gangway’s centre point, the gangway was lifted under an asymmetrical centre line of hoisting thus causing the gangway being subjected to an inboard pulling force when lifted. As a result, the hooks at the end of the gangway were stuck with the vessel’s railing. When the hooks were suddenly freed from the railing, the gangway slid inboard in an uncontrolled manner. The uncontrolled gangway struck the chief officer who was standing at a spot within the danger zone of the gangway’s moving path; and
  2. (b)  the deployment of four guard ropes failed to withhold the sudden inboard swing of the gangway. The risk assessment and the work plan prepared before the gangway lifting operation had not been done properly.

3. A safety issue was also observed in the accident. Seafarers should always consider accepting a doctor’s advice when attending medical treatments. The chief officer might save his own life if he decided to stay in the hospital as advised by the local doctor.

Lessons Learnt

In order to avoid recurrence of a similar accident in future, masters, officers and crew should:

  1. (a)  conduct a proper risk assessment for lifting heavy objects. During lifting operation, no person should stand in the danger zone. Lifting operation under an asymmetrical centre of the lift should be avoided as far as practicable;
  2. (b)  check the medical report of an injured person to confirm whether he/she is still fit for duties/sailing on board; and
  3. (c)  consider duly and accept the doctor’s advice when attending medical treatments.

4. The attention of shipowners, ship managers, ship operators, masters, officers and crew is drawn to the lessons learnt above.


Why do ships use ‘port’ and ‘starboard’ and not ‘left’ or ‘right’

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As port and starboard never change, they are unambiguous references that are independent of a mariner’s orientation, and, as a result, mariners use these nautical terms instead of left and right to avoid confusion.

Have you ever wondered why sailors use the terms ‘port’ and ‘starboard’, instead of left and right side on ships?

In the past, ships used to have rudders on their centre line and they were controlled using a steering oar. As it is the case today, back then as well the majority of the people were right handed.

Thus, as most of the sailors were right handed, the steering oar used to control the ship was located over or through the right side of the stern.

For this reason, most of the seafarers were calling the right side as the ‘steering side’, which later was known as ‘starboard’.

The word ‘starboard’ is the combination of two old words: stéor (meaning ‘steer’) and bord (meaning ‘the side of a boat’).

The left side is called ‘port’ because ships with steerboards or star boards would dock at ports on the opposite side of the steerboard or star.

As the right side was the steerboard side or star board side, the left side was the port side. This was decide so that the dock would not interfere with operating the steerboard or star.

Another reason why the left side is ‘port’ is because it sounds different from ‘starboard’. Originally, sailors were calling the left side ‘larboard’, which was easily confused with ‘starboard’, especially when challenging conditions at sea made it difficult to hear. The switch was done to lead to a distinctive alternate name.

Namely, the old English name for the port side sounded like ‘backboard’. On big vessels, the sailor using the steering would have his back facing the ship’s left side.

As a result, ‘backboard’was named ‘laddebord’, which is the loading side of the ship. Later, ‘laddebord’ became ‘larboard’, causing the confusion that led to change to port.

This is why ships are using the terms ‘port’ and ‘starboard’, as they are unambiguous references that are independent of a mariner’s orientation.

With these terms, seafarers remove ambiguity, and they prefer them over using the terms left and right.