New year means new regulations

Jan 8, 2013 by Capt. Jake DesVergers

As we say goodbye to 2012 and welcome in the New Year, we look ahead to what awaits us in the world of maritime regulations.  The various regulatory bodies have been very busy the last few years and 2013 will exhibit many of those initiatives.  We will see a number of new regulations enter into force.  Below is a summary of those that will affect new and existing yachts.

Lifeboat and rescue boat release hooks
January 1:  All yachts fitted with lifeboat and/or rescue boat on-load release mechanisms must be fitted with equipment approved under the newly amended Lifesaving Appliances (LSA) code.  The new gear improves upon hook stability, locking devices, and hydrostatic interlock.

Garbage management plan and record keeping
January 1:  All yachts of 100 gross tonnage and every vessel certified to carry 15 or more persons are required to carry and implement a garbage management plan.  The provisions for allowed discharges are also amended to include previously excluded scenarios (cargo residues, cleaning agents, cooking oils, etc).  The permission to discharge in certain location and geographic distances are made more stringent.  The new table is quite exhaustive and can be downloaded directly from the International Maritime Organization’s Web site:

U.S. Caribbean sea emission control area
January 1:  The U.S. Caribbean Emission Control Area (ECA) begins enforcement.  The area of the ECA includes waters adjacent to coasts of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, up to roughly 50 nautical miles from the territorial sea baselines of the included islands.  The ECA is bound such that it does not extend into marine areas subject to the sovereignty, sovereign rights, or jurisdiction of any state other than the United States.  The new standard of 0.1 percent fuel sulfur (1,000 ppm) is expected to reduce airborne particulate matter and sulfur dioxide emissions by more than 85 percent from today’s levels.

Energy efficiency design and management
January 1:  The new MARPOL Annex VI requirements create several new benchmarks for environmental protection and the reduction of greenhouse gases.  For all existing ships and yachts of 400 gross tonnage and greater, there is the new Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP).The purpose of the SEEMP is to establish a mechanism for a yacht to improve the energy efficiency of its operation.  The SEEMP seeks to improve a yacht’s energy efficiency through four steps: planning, implementation, monitoring, and self-evaluation and improvement.  These components play a critical role in the continuous cycle to improve energy management.  Achieving these goals can be done through a combination of structural and operations actions.  These may include improved voyage planning, weather routing, optimized speed, consistent shaft power, enhanced use of rudder and heading control systems (autopilots), and hull maintenance.
For all yachts of 400 gross tonnage and greater built after January 1, an energy efficient design index must be calculated.  It provides a minimum energy efficiency level for new ships and yachts.  It is a non-prescriptive, performance-based mechanism that leaves the choice of technologies to use in a specific design to the industry itself.  The IMO is not dictating how to meet the EEDI, so long as the required energy-efficiency level is attained.  This means that designers, naval architects, and builders are free to use the most cost-efficient solution they desire in order for the yacht to comply with the regulations.
To verify compliance with these new rules, yachts must carry a new statutory certificate called the International Energy Efficiency (IEE) Certificate.  The required survey will be conduct by the yacht’s flag-state or classification society appointed on their behalf.

Bridge Navigational Watch Alarm System (BNWAS)
July 1:  This new piece equipment will begin to be enforced on yachts of 500 gross tonnage and greater.  The purpose of a bridge navigational watch alarm system is to monitor bridge activity and detect operator disability, which could lead to marine accidents.  The system monitors awareness of the Officer of the Watch (OOW) and automatically alerts the master or another qualified person if for any reason the OOW becomes incapable of performing his/her duties.  This purpose is achieved by a series of indications and alarm to alert first the OOW and, if he is not responding, then to alert the Master or another qualified person.  Additionally, the BNWAS provides the OOW with a means of calling for immediate assistance if required.

Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), 2006
August 20:  After 12 years of development and 7-1/2 years since being adopted, the Maritime Labour Convention will enter into force.  It will require all commercial yachts of 24m in length and greater to be inspected and certified by its flag-state or a classification society appointed on their behalf.  Noting the complexity of the process and subject areas that may be new to most in the industry, it cannot be stressed enough that action on this particular new regulation is required sooner than later.  Let’s put this in realistic terms.  It is now January-2013.  The winter months are usually a combination of charters, owner’s use, and maintenance work.  April hits us before we know it and the summer plans begin to take shape.  Boats heading to the Med begin their movements.  Yachts already in the Med start to awaken from their winter naps.  June sees us positioning for the summer season and by July, things are full speed ahead.  Illustrating the above typical schedule, one can see that there is very little time to prepare, let alone become certified.  In addition, another extremely important aspect to remember is the availability (or lack) of inspectors.  The ILO has dictated that passenger ships and bulk carriers take priority when scheduling the onboard inspections.  This may leave many yachts uncertified by the August-2013 deadline.  There are a finite number of approved inspectors.  There is an understanding that Port State Control will recognize this shortage, but there is no guarantee that they will accept it.

Capt. Jake DesVergers currently serves as Chief Surveyor for the International Yacht Bureau (IYB), a recognized organization that provides flag-state inspection services to private and commercial yachts on behalf of several flag-state administrations.  A deck officer graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, he previously sailed as Master on merchant ships, acted as Designated Person for a shipping company, and served as regional manager for an international classification society.  Contact him at 954-596-2728 or


About Capt. Jake DesVergers

Capt. Jake DesVergers is chief surveyor for International Yacht Bureau (IYB), an organization that provides flag-state inspection services to yachts on behalf of several administrations. A deck officer graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, he previously sailed as master on merchant ships, acted as designated person for a shipping company, and served as regional manager for an international classification society. Contact him at +1 954-596-2728 or

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