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Charter yacht safety codes

Structural fire protection and means of escape

For vessels less than 500GT:

Structural fire protection in machinery spaces: deck and boundaries to be properly insulated in order to reach A-30 standard in unrestricted service and B-15 standard in short range navigation.

Fixed fire detection system in machinery spaces, control stations, service and accommodation spaces (smoke detectors and manual call points).

Upholstery composites and suspended textile materials used through the vessel shall be certified non-combustible in accordance with IMO FTP Code. Alternatively a sprinkler system or equivalent should be installed.

Two means of escape for each machinery and accommodation space.

For vessels with gross tonnage equal to or over 500GT:

Structural fire protection: the requirements are derived from the SOLAS passenger ship rules applicable to ships carrying less than 36 passengers. these apply to the subdivision in main fire vertical and horizontal zones, fire integrity of bulkheads and decks.

Fixed fire detection system in machinery spaces, control stations, service and accommodation spaces (smoke detectors and manual call points).

Automatic sprinkler system always fitted.

Two separate means of escape for each machinery and accommodation space.

Restriction on use of combustible materials.


Strict requirements are in place to outline the minimum standards for helicopter landing areas and associated facilities.

As a guide only, for use during a charter, a helipad must conform to full commercial requirements, which include among many other requirements, that the full outline of the aircraft – from tail rotor extremity to tip of the main rotor blades – must be able to fit above solid deck. Few yachts are able to meet this requirement.

Manning, personnel certification and accommodation

The code also deals with minimum safe manning and certification of competency of the officers. Furthermore the code covers the standard of accommodation in terms of general arrangement, lighting, sleeping accommodation, etc.

These areas will be affected by new ILO rules, which are expected to come into force in 2013/14 and will be compulsory for all commercial yachts exceeding 200GT.

Life-saving appliances

The requirements vary in accordance with the navigation, gross tonnage and length of the vessel.

Short range yachts are exempted from the requirement to provide a rescue boat. For vessels greater than 500GT a fully SOLAS approved rescue boat and dedicated crane are required.

Alternative arrangements to the carriage of lifeboats may be considered as indicated below:

Substitution of lifeboats by liferafts where the vessel complies with a SOLAS2 compartment subdivision standard; or

Substitution of lifeboats by a sufficient number of davit-launched liferafts, such that in the event of any one liferaft being lost or rendered unserviceable, sufficient aggregate capacity remains on either side of the vessel for all persons on board. Additionally one approved rescue boat should be provided on either side of the vessel.

It is highly advisable for owners to obtain compliance with the safety code at the new building stage. Many safety features such as engine room fire insulation, load line requirements and lifesaving appliances are very expensive and highly invasive if retrofitted on existing boats.

Gross tonnage and mandatory certification

Originally published: February 2010. Since this article was published, LY2 has been replaced by the new LY3 code.

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