Large Yacht Code 3 reassures owners & builders

21 January 2015• Written by Bransom Bean
Large Yacht Code 3 (LY3) succeeds the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s LY2 code for Red Ensign-flagged vessels.

The three simple characters ‘LY3’ seem mundane, but some might say that in at least one respect they have saved the superyacht industry from a near-death experience.

Short for ‘Large Yacht Code 3’, LY3 is successor to the current Large Yacht 2 code (LY2), developed by the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) for Red Ensign-flagged vessels.

At the time of writing this article, LY3 was still in draft, and was set to not only will replace LY2, but it also builds upon the previous proposed LY2 Edition 3, which was released in 2011.

The Large Yacht Code applies to charter yachts 24m and longer and less than 3,000GT, carrying no more than 12 passengers.

LY3 goes a long way toward blowing away some of the doubt that was beginning to cloud yacht-building schedules due to the upcoming requirements of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC 2006).

More mundanely, this latest code also addresses private submarine issues, the expanding girth of persons aboard yachts, fire hazards of laundries and galleys, elevators and mandatory radio watches.

MLC Equivalencies

The spectre of the International Labour Organization’s MLC 2006 may have many people wondering if new yachts under 150ft could even be built.

Written to protect commercial seafarers’ rights, MLC 2006 stipulates crew accommodation sizes that would be difficult to fit within the confines of a yacht. Studies show that yacht guests would lose approximately 40 per cent of their space to crew.

And because MLC 2006 does not specifically exclude superyachts, at the time of writing, they are included – and both flag and port states will enforce the regulations internationally. MLC 2006 comes into effect 12 months after 30 member nations sign; with the critical mass reached in August 2012, it is scheduled to come into force in August 2013.

For yacht owners and builders, LY3 brings some really good news, offering some certainty as to what might be permissible for yachts under these upcoming regulations. Recognizing that practicable sleeping accommodations may not easily meet MLC 2006’s requirements, LY3 uses the term ‘equivalent’ – focusing on the intent as opposed to the strict letter of the law.

LY3 vs MLC 2006

The 169-page LY3 draft devotes more than 10 pages to the MLC 2006, adding two new sections, 21A and 21B, to implement substantially equivalent arrangements to the crew accommodation requirements of MLC.

For example, for vessels less than 3,000GT, MLC 2006 strictly prescribes a very exact 4.5 square meters (48 square feet) or more of free floor area for a single-occupancy cabin, not less than seven square meters (75 square feet) if occupied by two seafarers.

LY3 tries to take into account the unique shape and structure of a smaller yacht’s hull. To provide room in a cabin for sufficient movement on yachts under 1,250GT, LY3 allows reduced floor areas on a sliding scale between 3.6 and 4.5 square meters (39 and 48 square feet) for a single cabin and 6.2 and 7 square meters (66 and 75 square feet) for a double cabin.

Thus, if the cabin shape and bunk placement allows free movement of a seafarer’s upper body, ‘a reduced free floor area may be provided with the Administration’s agreement, but should not be less than one square meter per seafarer.’

LY3 recognises that a yacht’s galley can be a hazard to all on board, due to grease collecting in exhaust ducting.

The Galley

‘It’s a bit surprising that [the galley] has not been addressed before,’ observes Mark Towl, policy manager for large yachts at the MCA. Particularly since, as Franc Jansen, director and head of YPI Management, points out, ‘Some of the most damaging fires lately in yachts have been starting in the galley and laundry.’

The draft LY3 recognizes that a yacht’s galley can be a hazard to all on board because of the combustible nature of grease in the atmosphere as it collects in exhaust ducting, much like soot in a chimney.

To keep any combustion that might start in the galley within the galley for as long as possible, galleys in yachts laid down on or after 1 January 2015 are to be enclosed by ‘B-15’ Class fire boundaries – a technical standard for fire resistance.

LY3 will recommend vessels constructed prior to 2015 also comply. LY2 addressed this by simply trying to prevent the fire from spreading, requiring a damper to shut off the gas flow at the lower end of the duct and then inside the ducting itself. In larger yachts a grease trap is required.

Containing a galley fire in the galley doesn’t do much to save whatever – or whoever – happens to be inside the galley. That includes cables and wiring, meaning that even a well-contained galley fire could still affect other spaces in the yacht.

LY3 directs that cables and wiring serving essential or emergency power, lighting, internal communications or signals be diverted around the galley, as well as laundry, machinery spaces and fuel storage.

In addition, ventilation ducts for accommodations, galleys, service spaces or control stations are not to pass through machinery spaces or areas containing fuelled vehicles or fuel storage spaces, unless the ducts are steel.


Getting stuck in a dark, broken elevator is unpleasant for anyone, but even more so in a seaway. Elevator doors that open suddenly to a cavernous open shaft rather than a panelled elevator do nothing to improve a guest’s experience.

In addition to specifying that elevators shall be designed, constructed, installed and tested by a competent person, LY3 specifies that an elevator’s construction and installation for marine use needs a certificate, including a load test from a classification society, an insurer, or the manufacturer.

The radio

Section 16 of LY3 is devoted to a yacht’s radio and applies to all vessels. It requires a yacht during ‘its intended voyage’ be able to transmit ship-to-shore distress alerts by at least two separate and independent means, each using a different radio communication service, and receive shore-to-ship distress alerts.

In addition, a yacht must be able to transmit and receive ship-to-ship distress alerts, search-and-rescue coordinating communications, on-scene communications, signals for locating by radar, maritime safety information, and bridge-to-bridge communications.

LY3 also directs what main and backup power is required and sets radio watch standards mandating a continuous watch at sea.

Submarines: undeniable fun – inherently dangerous.


Submarines are undeniable fun, but they’re inherently dangerous. Operating a submarine is not like riding a personal watercraft. Even launching one from a stabilized yacht can be tricky.

Because a submarine compresses as she sinks, losing buoyancy continuously if ballast is not reduced, the boat will want to sink faster and faster until she crushes or comes to rest on the bottom where someone can come to the rescue.

Some pleasure submarines advertise their ability to survive for several days on the bottom, but seem to miss the point that at their maximum depth they are beyond divers’ reach, hence giving the hapless occupants those same ‘several days’ to contemplate their demise.

LY3 states that submersible craft carried on yachts should comply with International Maritime Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee Circular 981 as well as respective national regulations, including:

• Being constructed and maintained in accordance with the rules of a recognized classification society and “suitable for the intended use;”

• A safety management system separate from other systems operated by the parent vessel, including an operations manual;

• Certification for the safety of submersible craft and its support equipment following a satisfactory survey and audit.

LY3 stipulates that both operators and the operation of personal watercraft ‘should comply with the applicable legislation of the state in whose waters they are being operated,’ and that crew operating submarines have, ‘adequate theoretical and practical training for the type of submersible craft on board, and have demonstrated ability to operate it.’

Polar operations

As yachts boldly go where a gin and tonic has never been spilled, LY3 has a new provision for ‘yachts which intend to operate within polar regions.’

Stipulating what would seem to be the obvious, these vessels must be classed accordingly ‘with structural strength and systems incorporating heating and recirculation facilities [to] meet ice-class standards’ and ‘considerations should include those for icing’.

Heavy-displacement guests

Perhaps taking into account the culinary wonders typical of a super-yacht galley, among LY3’s minor changes are requirements for additional special life jackets for ‘large girth persons’.


LY3 will continue to be developed jointly by the UK, including its relevant overseas territories and crown dependencies, and international industry representatives.

In fact, Mark Towl is quick to point out that LY3 truly will be a team effort of the Large Yacht Steering Committee and Large Yacht Working Group, comprising industry stakeholders, including builders, designers, managers, seafarers, classification societies and other Red Ensign group administrations.

LY3 comes into effect once it has been cleared by the UK’s statutory processes for implementing new legislation – meaning the code has to go through a number of internal checks and balances to ensure that there is no additional burden on the industry.

Then it has to go through the statutory 12-week public consultation period before it can be published.

Originally published: Showboats International, February 2012.