New guidelines on SMS compliance and alternative fuels

Written by Nick Blenkey
SMS compliance

Image: MTF

The Maritime Technologies Forum (MTF) has released guidelines that make recommendations for developing and implementing the Safety Management System (SMS) under IMO’s International Safety Management (ISM) Code. They address SMS requirements when operating ships on potentially more hazardous alternative fuels.

The MTF brings together a group of leading flag administrations and class societies and this new report follows MTF’s publication last year of “Operational Management to Accelerate Maritime Decarbonization,” which identified critical gaps in implementing three current regulatory Conventions and Codes.

The new guidelines address potential gaps related to Safety Management Systems (SMS) development and implementation; including emergency procedures; and maintenance measures. Through collaboration with industry stakeholders, MTF members developed recommendations after reviewing the ISM Code’s Part A implementation for each section.

Some highlights from the report:

While the experience with alternative fuels will at first be limited, the MTF guidelines outline actions for companies to develop new or strengthen existing SMS for alternative fuels on board their fleet.

Companies should implement a structured risk management within SMS to proactively identify improvements and learn through non-conformities, accidents and hazardous occurrences related to alternative fuels, or through other companies or pilots.

The SMS should be versatile to accommodate mixed fuel operations and adapt to be ready for new fuel scenarios as alternative fuels are progressively scaled and become more mainstream throughout the industry.

Safe operations with alternative fuels will require an assessment of the competency, training, familiarisation and resources relevant to the specific alternative fuels. The human element in the operations associated with the handling, storage and utilization of alternative fuels is critical, and should be considered to ensure safe operations.

“These guidelines and recommendations from the MTF are an important step forward to achieving safe and sustainable operations and a great starting point to begin preparing for the use of alternative fuels,” said Lloyd’s Register CEO Nick Brown. “The ISM Code provides a top-down approach to safety and is the ideal vehicle through which to drive training and skills for the safe handling of these fuels, not only under routine operations but also during emergencies such as equipment failures, fires, collisions, and malicious attacks. Our biggest strength, however, will be learning from each other throughout the energy transition, ensuring we have a solid foundation to promote safety for our people at sea and in port.”

Download the guidelines HERE

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