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ARM MERCHANT SHIPS?
Should merchant ships transiting high risk areas carry small arms for defense against pirates?

Selected crew should be trained and have guns available
Professional armed security teams should be hired
No guns on merchant ships, ever

June 25, 2009

USCG issues guidance on SOLAS data sheets

The U.S. Coast Guard has submitted a Federal Register notice containing guidance on new International Maritime Organization measures.

These new measures require that all tank ships subject to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) carrying Annex I cargoes and all ships using Annex I marine fuels have Material Safety Data Sheets aboard. This SOLAS requirement will become effective January 1, 2011. It does not apply to inland barges or any other ship not subject to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention.

After January 1, 2011, nations party to SOLAS can be expected to verify that ships subject to SOLAS have Material Safety Data Sheets as required. After that date, all U.S. flagged vessels under SOLAS traveling overseas should expect foreign administrations to ask for Material Safety Data Sheets for each Annex I cargo and marine oil fuel on board.

Also after that date, all foreign flagged vessels under SOLAS in U.S. ports should expect the Coast Guard to ask for Material Safety Data Sheets in fulfillment of the United States' duties as a party to SOLAS. The Coast Guard expects that ship's personnel receive Material Safety Data Sheets in a working language or languages understood by them. The Coast Guard expects that occupational exposure limits referenced in a Material Safety Data Sheet be based on an internationally-recognized standard.

The International Maritime Organization has recommended a format for the Material Safety Data Sheet and the Coast Guard encourages the use of this recommended format and content, which is set out in the Federal Register notice. Some nations party to SOLAS may require Material Safety Data Sheets to follow the International Maritime Organization recommendations for format and content.

In most cases, vessels will already have Material Safety Data sheets for all cargoes that usually will contain the recommended information. In some cases, certain recommended data may not apply to the bulk liquid in question (data not applicable should be so noted); however, some member nations may require all of the recommended information.


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