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It’s complicated, and tiring, to keep abreast of all amendments made to SOLAS and other IMO instruments, but maritime medias usually relay such information. However one recent change, and a major one, was agreed without making the noise it deserves: the watertight doors (WTD) permitted to remain open during navigation.

The relevant SOLAS rule, i.e. II-1/22.4, will be amended to restrict the possibility to leave WTD opened, hence to ensure that the ship subdivision and floatability is always efficient and that its survivability in case of flooding is maximal.

Currently, such doors may remain opened after consideration and agreement by the Flag State Administration or the Class society acting on behalf of the Flag State. The agreement is in theory supported by a review of the impact on stability of such opened doors.

With the new rule, the conditions for the authorization to leave doors opened will be strengthened, to such a point that it might not be allowed to leave any door opened. This is an essential progress towards safety of passenger ships, and mainly cruise-ships, and it reinforces the duties of Flag States in this context.

It is obvious that such a change is a consequence of the Costa Concordia accident, although this is not publicly stated. We could wonder why. In the long quest for establishing the root causes of maritime accidents, findings should not be minimized, especially when they show a possible flaw in the regulations.

Read IMO Press briefing on the subject:

http://www.imo.org/MediaCentre/MeetingSummaries/DE/Pages/SDC-2.aspx

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