LY3 rewrites rules

Oct 14, 2013 by Capt. Jake DesVergers

This fall has been a busy season for the implementation of new regulations. With the August implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention, the United Kingdom also released its third version of the Large Commercial Yacht Code. Like its predecessors of LY1 and LY2, the acronym family continues with LY3.

Originally published in 1998 as the Merchant Shipping (Vessels in Commercial Use for Sport or Pleasure) Regulations, these regulations created minimum criteria for the design, construction, and operation of large commercial yachts.

International regulations established by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) were and continued to be primarily for merchant ships. Because commercial yachts did not fall naturally into a single category of merchant ship (passenger, tanker, cargo, etc.), some safety standards were incompatible and/or impractical for large yachts.

Thus the Large Yacht Code was born.

While established for the  UK and its Crown dependency yacht registers, collectively referred to as the Red Ensign Group, the Large Yacht Code has since become the de facto standard for yacht safety within our industry.

Following the success of the Code’s release by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), other ship registers such as Belize, Malta, the Marshall Islands, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines decided to implement similar codes for yachts within their respective registers.

Other major yachting registers such as Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Panama have accepted the large yacht codes versus creating another set of rules for an already crowded field.

LY3 remains a robust set of standards for the safe operation of yachts engaged in commercial trade. This version of the code continues with its previous regulations while adding new requirements for yachts to comply. Here is a summary of the major revisions.

1. The upper threshold of 3,000 gross tons is removed. This means that vessels above this critical number may now use the code for compliance. Previously, yachts larger than 3,000 gross tons had no choice but to ensure full compliance with the applicable merchant shipping regulations.

2. Chapter 16 for Radio Equipment and Communications was revised in full. It now parallels the regulations found in SOLAS Chapter IV for vessels in the GMDSS system.

3. Chapter 21 for Accommodation was also revised in full. It provides the UK’s interpretations and equivalencies for compliance to the Maritime Labour Convention. Subdivided into sections A and B, the contents therein outline the major allowances to be implemented on yachts below 200 GT and those yachts above 200 GT.

The 200 GT threshold is viewed as a key level, especially for compliance with the size of sleeping areas, work areas and recreational spaces for the crew.

4. A new Section 24.5 was added to address the ever-increasing popularity of submersibles on board yachts. In addition to new minimum standards for their construction, also included are standards for operation, maintenance and crew certification.

5. New guidance was provided for the design and operation of passenger lifts. Focus was placed on means of escape, communications and structural fire protection.

6. The placement of rescue boats was further revised. Allowable areas have been defined for yachts above and below 500 GT, plus those considered “short range” yachts.

7. Additional sections were added that relate to operations in the polar regions, rules compliance during races, safety gear for working over-the-side, and harmonization of several rules with SOLAS and MARPOL.

One important key factor to note is that LY3 has certain retroactive requirements that will affect all yachts certified under the previous versions of LY1 and LY2. These are listed in Section and include:

Section 13.2.4 Lifejackets;

Section 16.3.1 (Radio equipment);

Section 18.1.8 Vessels of 300 GT and over have LRIT fitted;

Section 18.1.9 Vessels of 150 GT and over have BNWAS fitted;

Section 26 Manning and Personnel Certification;

Section 29 Crew Agreements; and

Section 30.2 Vessels under 500 GT, Safety Management.

Existing sailing yachts may take advantage of the definition of a “short range yacht” in this version of the code.

The yachting industry is an ever-changing and constantly evolving marketplace. Just in the last few years, we have seen the size of yachts exponentially increase. We have seen the locations that yachts visit become more exotic and remote. Moreover, we have seen the envelope pushed when it comes to design and construction.

Just as the industry changes, so must the regulations that provide safe guidance for those involved with it.

LY3 is the latest attempt to raise the standard for yachts and it is heading in the right direction.

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 Comments on this column are welcome at