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Statutory Documents - IMO Publications and Documents - International Codes - IMSBC Code – International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code – Resolution MSC.268(85) - Foreword


 The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 (SOLAS Convention), as amended, deals with various aspects of maritime safety and contains, in parts A and B of chapter VI and part A-1 of chapter VII, the mandatory provisions governing the carriage of solid bulk cargoes and the carriage of dangerous goods in solid form in bulk, respectively. These provisions are amplified in the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (IMSBC Code).

 Detailed fire protection arrangements for ships carrying solid bulk cargoes are incorporated into chapter II-2 of the SOLAS Convention by regulations 10 and 19. Attention is drawn to regulation II-2/19.4 of the SOLAS Convention as amended. This provides for an appropriate document as evidence of compliance of construction and equipment with the requirements of regulation II-2/19 to be issued to ships constructed on or after 1 July 2002 and carrying dangerous goods in solid form in bulk as defined in regulation VII/7 of the Convention, except class 6.2 and class 7.


  • cargo ships of 500 gross tonnage or over constructed on or after 1 September 1984 but before 1 July 2002; or

  • cargo ships of less than 500 gross tonnage constructed on or after 1 February 1992 but before 1 July 2002,

 the requirements of regulation II-2/54 of SOLAS, 1974, as amended by resolutions MSC.1(XLV), MSC.6(48), MSC.13(57), MSC.22(59), MSC.24(60), MSC.27(61), MSC.31(63) and MSC.57(67), apply (see SOLAS regulation II-2/1.2).

 For cargo ships of less than 500 gross tonnage constructed on or after 1 September 1984 and before 1 February 1992, it is recommended that Contracting Parties extend such application to these cargo ships as far as possible.

 The problems involved in the carriage of bulk cargoes were recognized by the delegates to the 1960 International Conference on Safety of Life at Sea, but at that time it was not possible to frame detailed requirements, except for the carriage of grain. The Conference did recommend, however, in paragraph 55 of Annex D to the Convention, that an internationally acceptable code of safe practice for the shipment of bulk cargoes should be drawn up under the sponsorship of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). This work was undertaken by the Organization's Sub-Committee on Containers and Cargoes and several editions of the Code of Safe Practice for Solid Bulk Cargoes (BC Code) have been published, since the first edition in 1965. The Sub-Committee was expanded to include dangerous goods and is now called the Sub-Committee on Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers (DSC Sub-Committee).

 The prime hazards associated with the shipment of solid bulk cargoes are those relating to structural damage due to improper cargo distribution, loss or reduction of stability during a voyage and chemical reactions of cargoes. Therefore the primary aim of this Code is to facilitate the safe stowage and shipment of solid bulk cargoes by providing information on the dangers associated with the shipment of certain types of solid bulk cargoes and instructions on the procedures to be adopted when the shipment of solid bulk cargoes is contemplated. The requirements for the transport of grain are covered by the International Code for the Safe Carriage of Grain in Bulk (International Grain Code, 1991).

 The IMSBC Code that was adopted by resolution MSC.268(85) was recommended to Governments for adoption or for use as the basis for national regulations in pursuance of their obligations under regulation of the SOLAS Convention, as amended. The Code is mandatory under the provision of the SOLAS Convention from 1 January 2011. However, some parts of the Code continue to be recommendatory or informative. It needs to be emphasized that, in the context of the language of the Code: the words “shall”, “should” and “may”, when used in the Code, mean that the relevant provisions are “mandatory”, “recommendatory” and “optional”, respectively. Observance of the Code harmonizes the practices and procedures to be followed and the appropriate precautions to be taken in the loading, trimming, carriage and discharge of solid bulk cargoes when transported by sea, ensuring compliance with the mandatory provisions of the SOLAS Convention.

 The Code has undergone many changes, both in layout and content, in order to keep pace with the expansion and progress of industry. The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) is authorized by the Organization's Assembly to adopt amendments to the Code, thus enabling the IMO to respond promptly to developments in transport.

 The MSC, at its eighty-fifth session, agreed that, in order to facilitate the safe transport of solid bulk cargoes, the provisions of the Code may be applied as from 1 January 2009 on a voluntary basis, pending their official entry into force on 1 January 2011 without any transitional period. This is described in resolution MSC.268(85).

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