Ships and marine technology

Safety, security and the environment

Regulatory bodies can have an important role in defining standards and requirements which affect safety, security and the environment, both at the organization/company level or at the individual level. The ships and marine sector provides a good example of what can be achieved over a period of time when appropriate links are maintained between the regulatory body and IEC and ISO technical committees.

The main lesson from this example is that the regulatory authority can be provided with continuous representation by the IEC and ISO technical committees and their work when discussing how Standards can help ensure uniform international implementation by industry. This is a good example of active utilization of the IEC and ISO liaison approach with other organizations, which requires long-term commitment, close cooperation and political sensitivity.

Freighters entering the Panama Canal

Who is involved ?

International Maritime Organization (IMO)

IMO provides a forum and framework for cooperation among governments in the field of governmental regulation and practices relating to technical matters of all kinds affecting shipping engaged in international trade.  It encourages and facilitates the general adoption of standards in support of its international agreements concerning maritime safety, security, efficiency of navigation and prevention and control of marine pollution from ships.

IEC TC 18: Electrical installations of ships and of mobile and fixed offshore units

IEC TC 18 is responsible for the electrical installations and equipment on ships and on mobile and fixed offshore units. Its Standards form a code of practical interpretation of the requirements of the International Convention on Safety of Life at Sea.  IEC TC 18 Standards foster interchangeability of parts  and ease the selection and procurement of equipment, including cables for transport of energy,  signals and data  by indicating IEC Standards of ratings, types, dimensions, materials, quality and test methods.

IEC TC 80: Maritime navigation and radiocommunication equipment and systems

IEC TC 80 is responsible for preparing Standards for maritime navigation and radiocommunication equipment and systems making use of electrotechnical, electronic, electroacoustic, electro-optical and data processing techniques. Its Standards requested by IMO or other regulating bodies are typically the technical Standards that IMO will use as an interpretation of IMO decisions. The suite of shipborne equipment set by IEC TC 80 must be compatible with shore navigation systems in all IMO signatory countries, thus ensuring that vessels can navigate in their waters.  IEC TC 80 also addresses requirements for other international bodies, such as the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA), especially regarding Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) and other systems requiring compatibility with shore  navigation systems.

ISO/TC 8: Ships and marine technology

ISO/TC 8 is responsible within ISO for the standardization of design, construction, structural elements, outfitting parts,  equipment, methods and technology and marine environmental matters  which are used in shipbuilding and the operation of ships. These include sea-going ships, vessels for inland navigation, offshore structures, ship-to-shore interface and all other marine structures subject to IMO requirements. ISO/TC 8 is also responding to other standardization needs in the areas of security and piracy, polar navigation, ship recycling, and lifesaving equipment.

Robotic arm aboard the Auxiliary General Oceanographic Research

How is regulatory cooperation in this field achieved?

By ensuring mutual representation at committee meetings and almost constant communication,  these bodies have made sure that marine standards reflect the needs of the regulatory body and avoid any unwanted duplication of work. Additionally, this sector has developed other practical steps to facilitate the use of standards in regulations.

When work items are considered to be of mutual interest to, IEC TC 18, IEC TC 80, ISO/TC 8 and IMO, these items are either requested by IMO or are initiated by the technical committees themselves. The mutual interest is recorded in the Strategic Policy Statements of IEC TC 18 and IEC TC 80 and the Annex of the Business Plan of ISO/TC 8. IMO has confirmed its interest by submitting a number of requests to IEC and ISO. Many IEC and ISO Standards and specifications have become pertinent documents in connection with the regulatory work of IMO.

As an international regulatory body with members comprising national governments, IMO has the capability, through these delegations, to prescribe and define its requirements at all levels. IEC and ISO play a critical role in saving scarce resources in IMO by providing the industry input and by facilitating the implementation of IMO requirements. This allows maximum focus on the performance requirements by IMO and permits reference to the technical work of quasi-governmental organizations such as IEC and ISO. This relationship is thus founded on long-term trust and confidence. It demands awareness of an IMO interest at the earliest stages and a timely response to meet its needs as well as those of industry stakeholders.

This fruitful working relationship, mutual trust and respect is based on years of close understanding. IEC/TC 18, IEC/TC 80 and ISO/TC 8 have proved that Standards can be developed in months, rather than years. This has made IEC and ISO attractive and effective partners for IMO.

More examples by industry sector

Navigation and communications

Measuring efficiency

Rapidly evolving and highly regulated

Measuring energy performance

Dependent on electric and electronic components

Cutting across many different industry sectors

Protection from interference

Electrical equipment and systems for railways

Safety, security and the environment

Power consumption tests

Test procedures