Regulation Calendar

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche

02 January 2019

Every year brings a number of regulatory changes that shipowners have to take into account when operating and equipping existing ships or ordering new vessels. The new year – 2019 – is one of those years when more attention needs to be paid to the future than the year itself, although of course ensuring compliance with any new regulation is essential.

Before detailing the changes for 2019, it is worth looking a further year ahead to 2020. This will be the year when the reduction in the global cap on sulphur in fuels kicks in. Unless the IMO has a change of heart forced upon it, all ships with effect from 1 January 2020 must have on board only compliant fuels unless a scrubber has been fitted. There is a get out clause in the regulations for ships which cannot obtain compliant fuels but how that will be interpreted by port states is still a little unclear.

Before 31 December 2019, ships will need to have fully used or exchanged all non-compliant fuels in order for the vessel to begin 2020 in a legal and compliant configuration. In some cases that will need to be done in conjunction with time charterers and may in some cases warrant a modification to the redelivery clause in the charter party. From a legal standpoint, charterers may not be obligated to redeliver a ship with anything other than the type of fuel that was onboard at delivery.

The 1 January 2020 is also when Phase 2 of the EEDI rules become effective for new ships ordered after that date. This will require a20% improvement in efficiency calculated according to the appropriate ship type formula compared to the 2011 baseline. In line with earlier deadlines, it can be expected that several shipowners will prefer to order early rather than be obliged to meet new requirements that may not fir with their operational strategies.

Key dates

1 January


MARPOL ANNEX VI Air Emissions REG 13 As per MEPC.286(71) Existing European SECAs will be extended to cover NOx emissions. Will affect ships built after 1 January 2021 and existing vessels with new engines fitted after that date. Such vessels must meet NOx Tier III requirements.

MARPOL Annex VI, New requirements regarding information to be included in the bunker delivery note (BDN). New Appendix V, “Information to be included in the bunker delivery note (regulation 18.5)”:

  • Name and IMO Number of receiving ship
  • Port
  • Date of commencement of delivery
  • Name, address and telephone number of marine fuel oil supplier
  • Product name(s)
  • Quantity in metric tonnes
  • Density at 15°C (kg/m3 )
  • Sulphur content (% m/m)

A declaration signed and certified by the fuel oil supplier’s representative that the fuel oil supplied is in conformity with regulation 18.3 of this Annex and that the sulphur content of the fuel oil supplied does not exceed:

  • the limit value given by regulation 14.1 of this Annex;
  • the limit value given by regulation 14.4 of this Annex; or
  • the purchaser’s specified limit value of _____(% m/m), as completed by the fuel oil supplier’s representative and on the basis of purchaser’s notification that the fuel oil is intended to be used:
  1. in combination with an equivalent means of compliance in accordance with regulation 4 of this Annex; or
  2. is subject to a relevant exemption for a ship to conduct trials for sulphur oxides emission reduction and control technology research in accordance with regulation 3.2 of this Annex.

This declaration shall be completed by the fuel oil supplier’s representative by marking the applicable box(es) with a cross (x).”

MSC.426(98) IMSBC bulk code revisions affecting all dry cargo vessels above 500gt. Shippers of bulk cargoes explicitly assigned with the responsibility to ensure that the test for determining the transportable moisture limit (TML) of a solid bulk cargo has been carried out within six months prior to the date of loading of such bulk cargo. Additionally, the interval between sampling/testing for the moisture content of solid bulk cargo and the commencement of loading is not to be more than seven days so as to ensure that the moisture content of the cargo is less than its TML.

Four solid bulk cargoes for which a fixed gas fire-extinguishing system may be exempted have been identified and added to the list published by IMO as MSC.1/Circ.1395/Rev. 3.

Resolution A 1116 (30) Emergency signage on ships. Although not mandatory a universal system of emergency signage is recommended by the IMO as part of the Costa Concordia investigation. By the resolution the IMO INVITES Contracting Governments to note that these escape route signs and equipment location markings should take effect on ships constructed on or after 1 January 2019 or ships which undergo repairs, alterations, modifications and outfitting within the scope of SOLAS chapters II-2 and/or III, as applicable, on or after 1 January 2019.

13-14 February


ShipInsight Conference

Two-day event in London discussing topics of major importance to ship operators. More than 30 speakers will take part in panel discussions with audience participation encouraged. For full details see the conference page.

6 April


GPS Rollover

On, or possibly after, this date, some GPS receivers may start to behave strangely. The data they output may jump backwards in time, resulting in month and year timestamps that are potentially up to 20 years out of date. This is a known issue; in April 2018 the Department of Homeland Security in the United States issued a memo to make GPS users aware of the situation. Any changes, adjustments, or other actions are ultimately the responsibility of the user, so DHS strongly recommends owners and operators of critical infrastructure to prepare for the rollover.

The potential problem revolves around the way that GPS handles the week element of the data that forms part of the navigation signal; specifically the CNAV and MNAV message types. The week number is encoded into the data stream by a 10-bit field. A binary 10-bit word can represent a maximum of 1,024 weeks, which is approximately 19.7 years. Each 19.7 year period is known in GPS terms as an “epoch”.

At the end of each epoch the receiver resets the week number to zero and starts counting again – a new epoch begins. The first epoch started when GPS was launched in January 1980; hence the first epoch of GPS time came to an end on 21st August 1999. The end of the second epoch will fall on 6 April 2019. Some GPS receivers, or other systems that utilise the date and time function, may not be able to cope. GPS tracking devices installed in a fleet management system to schedule and monitor deliveries could cause system errors if they start to provide location data that is potentially up to 20 years out of date.

Since this is the second time a GPS week rollover will occur, many manufacturers will have been aware of it in advance and newer receivers will continue through and beyond the rollover date without issue. Older receivers that have been in operation for more than 10-15 years without firmware updates could be affected.

I June



MEPC.274(69) Regulation 11.3 of MARPOL Annex IV (previously revised by Resolution MEPC.200(62)) is revised to reflect the application criteria for discharge of sewage from passenger ships within a special area, based on the amended definition of “new passenger ship” (i.e. building contract placed or keel laid on or after 1 June 2019, or delivered on or after 1 June 2021).

Discharge compliance dates are established for the Baltic Sea Special Area (1 June 2019 for new passenger ships). Sewage treatment plants installed on passenger ships intending to discharge sewage effluent in special areas are to be type approved to additionally meet the specified effluent standards, including those specified in Section 4.2 of the 2012 Guidelines.

1 July



On all ships over 500gt, each compressed air breathing apparatus is to be fitted with an audible alarm and a visual or other device which will alert the user before the volume of the air in the cylinder has been reduced to no less than 200 litres.


Enhanced Group Call (EGC) Equipment for all vessels above 300gt should be type-approved to the performance standards not inferior to MSC.306(87), as amended by MSC.431(98)


Amendments to resolution MSC.148(77) on Revised Performance standards for narrow-band direct-printing telegraph equipment for the reception of navigational and meteorological warnings and urgent information to ships (NAVTEX).

1 September



Revisions to EEDI Formula for new passenger Passenger, Ro-ro and LNG carriers over 400gt

13 October


Ballast Water Convention

IMO Type approval process (G8)

The G8 guideline for IMO Type-Approval process was revised in 2016 and converted into a mandatory code for approval of ballast water management systems (BWMS code), which was adopted by MEPC 72 (April 2018) and enters into force in October 2019.

Revised timetable for ballast Treatment equipment

MEPC 72 adopted amendments to the BWM Convention, which were approved at the last session. The amendments will enter into force on 13 October 2019.

To be compliant with the IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention for existing vessels shipowners have to install a BWMS at the vessel’s next special survey after 8 September 2019, essentially giving a five year window for retrofits between September 2019 and September 2024 depending on when the special survey is due.

Ships constructed before 8 September 2017 are required to comply with the D-2 standard at the first IOPP renewal survey on or after 8 September 2019 (Reg. B-3/10.1.1), or on or after 8 September 2017, in the event the IOPP renewal survey was completed during the period on or after 8 September 2014 and prior to 8 September 2017 (Reg. B-3/10.1.2).

If the IOPP survey per Reg. B-3/10.1.2 is not completed, then compliance with the D-2 standard is required at the second IOPP renewal survey after 8 September 2017, only if the first IOPP renewal survey after 8 September 2017 is completed prior to 8 September 2019 and a IOPP renewal survey was not completed during the period on or after 8 September 2014 and prior to 8 September 2017 (Reg. B-3/10.2).

For ships constructed before 8 September 2017 and which are not subject to the IOPP renewal survey, compliance with the D-2 standard is required not later than 8 September 2024 (Reg. B-3/8).