American class body ABS has created a new notation that encourages owners to boost firefighting capability on older containerships.
It is the first class guidance to be developed that can improve the fire-fighting capabilities of existing containerships.
Orders of larger containerships in recent years pose a greater hazard to cargo and crew due to the risk of a larger volume of cargo carried on deck catching fire, said ABS.
It is tackling the problem by offering a guide accompanied by two new FOC-R notations for use by owners upgrading firefighting equipment on both newbuild and existing ships.
Ship owners can use the guidance when investing in firefighting equipment beyond that required by SOLAS Chapter II-2 Regulation 10 requirements.
ABS is going above and beyond the IMO requirements with its FOC-R+ notation.
It is exceeding the rule not only in applying guidance to older ships, but also in adding requirements for the protection of the hatch covers.
Also surpassing requirements, the guide supports owners in navigating risks based on the characteristics of particular container loads.
It accounts for the location of the containers on the deck and suggests firefighting spray patterns.
Many ships do not have equipment required by FOC-R, such as a fire main on each side of the vessel with manually operable isolation valves every 40 meters.
Matthew Tremblay, Vice President for Containerships at ABS, said: “Containership owners consider container fires to be one of the most significant risks they face today. Following last year’s release of our container deck firefighting guidance, we have heard from a number of owners who are interested in enhancing their containership fire protection.
“In developing the FOC-R notation, we recognized that it is not practical to apply the same standards for new construction to existing vessels so we developed a notation that guides owners in taking practical steps to enhance their on deck fire protection.”