Steering gear, emergency escapes, closed spaces, repatriation initiatives affect yachts

Jan 18, 2016 by Capt. Jake DesVergers

As we say goodbye to 2015 and welcome in the New Year, we look ahead to what awaits us in the world of maritime regulations. The various regulatory bodies were again very busy and 2016 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. Please remember that for regulatory purposes, a yacht is considered a cargo ship. Those yachts that carry more than 12 guests while engaged in trade are by definition a passenger ship, regardless of tonnage.

SOLAS Convention, Regulation II-1/29 Steering Gear

January 1, 2016: This amendment outlines three different possible methods of demonstrating compliance with testing of steering gear on new yachts:

  1. Ship at even keel and the rudder fully submerged with the speed of the ship corresponding to the number of maximum continuous revolutions of the main engine and maximum design pitch;
  2. If full rudder immersion is not possible an appropriate speed should be used, calculated on the basis of the actual rudder submersion. The chosen speed should result in a force and torque on the steering gear which is at least as great as if the full service draught was being used; and
  3. A prediction made of the actual service condition force and torque on the steering gear, which is then extrapolated to the full load condition.

This regulation affects all new construction yachts at initial sea trials.

SOLAS Convention, Regulation II-2/13.4 Emergency Escapes

January 1, 2016: Following a serious engine room fire on a cargo ship, the IMO decided to improve the requirements for means of escape in machinery spaces on cargo ships. Therevision harmonizes the regulation with those for passenger ships. This requires two means of escape from a machinery control room. There will be significant cost implications since the new amendments would require design changes to the escape routes of machinery spaces of cargo ships and smaller passenger ships. The new escapes must provide the same level of protection as the passenger ships. This regulation will apply to new yachts and passenger ships only.

SOLAS Convention, Regulation XI-1/7 Atmospheric Testing

July 1, 2016: The IMO adopted Resolution A.1050 (27) – Revised recommendations for entering enclosed spaces aboard ships. Following this adoption, the IMO recognized that hazards originating from oxygen-depleted or oxygen-enriched, flammable or toxic atmosphere could be present on other ships types (not only tankers and bulk carriers). The IMO agreed to develop relevant SOLAS and related code amendments to mandate the carriage of appropriate atmosphere testing instruments.

The primary objective of this new regulation is to focus on non-cargo enclosed spaces, including, but not limited to, ballast tanks, fuel oil tanks, void spaces, chain lockers, steering gear spaces, inerted spaces adjacent to cargo spaces, and sewage tanks. Because it was discovered that only testing for oxygen in any enclosed space is not necessarily sufficient for evaluating whether it is safe to enter, multi-gas detectors must now be carried on board. This regulation affects all yachts.

MLC, 2006

December 12, 2016: As of March 2014 when this amendment was originally suggested, the ILO’s abandonment of seafarers’ database listed 159 abandoned merchant ships, some dating back to 2006. Many of them with cases unresolved. Numerous abandoned seafarers are working and living on board ships without pay, often for several months, and lack food and water supplies, medical care, or means to return home. As such, amendments to the MLC 2006 were proposed to provide abandoned seafarers with further protection. The new amendments require ship owners to provide proof of financial security in respect of repatriation of seafarers following abandonment by the ship owner. In addition, a ship owner must confirm liability and financial security to assure compensation for contractual claims following the death or disability of a seafarer. This regulation applies to all yachts engaged in trade, regardless of tonnage.

STCW, 2010

December 31, 2016: For holders of licenses issued by the U.S. Coast Guard, the regulatory changes that became effective on 24 March 2014, require additional training and/or assessments for certain Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW) endorsements. Mariners who hold STCW endorsements issued under the previous regulatory requirements must meet these “gap-closing” requirements. Mariners who submit applications without evidence of meeting the gap-closing items may have their STCW endorsements limited to “Not valid after 31-Dec-2016.” Failure to comply with the STCW gap-closing requirements does not affect limitation or retention of national endorsements for domestic use.

Capt. Jake DesVergers is chief surveyor for International Yacht Bureau (IYB). Contact him on


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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