Asbestos in ships

The installation of materials that contain asbestos has, under SOLAS regulation II-1/3-5, been prohibited for all ships, except for some vanes, joints and insulation. From the 1st of January 2011, any installation of materials that contain asbestos will, under SOLAS regulation II-1/3-5, be prohibited, for all ships without exceptions.

Despite the clear and unambiguous prohibition of asbestos containing materials (ACMs), asbestos is still found on various locations on board ships. During inspections, asbestos has been found in such places as fire blankets, joints and insulation materials, types of sealants, friction material for brakes, wall and ceiling coverings, cords, remnants, electric fuses, etc. Moreover, ships that initially were free of asbestos appear to have asbestos on board as a result of repairs at shipyards and/or of purchasing spare parts at a later stage.

IMO-Circulair and PSC-guideline

The Netherlands submitted a proposal to the IMO, which finally resulted in the MSC.1/Circ.1374, Information on prohibiting the use of asbestos on board ships and introduced a paper in the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control ( PMoU), which resulted in a guideline, in order to increase the awareness on the use of asbestos on board ships.

In consultation with branch representatives, classification societies and other expert companies on this subject, the Netherlands Shipping Inspectorate has established an inspection instruction that include much more than just an examination of papers. This instruction is finalized and in force from December 1st 2011.

The Netherlands Shipping Inspectorate is of the opinion that the develop instruction: Ban on the use of Asbestos on board ships is a temporary solution to reduce the asbestos containing materials with the delivery of new ships and to have procedures in place for ships built between the 1st of July 2002 and the 1st of January 2011, in compliance with the MSC.1/Circ.1374. The instruction Ban on the use of Asbestos on board ships is in force from the 1st of December 2011.

The future goal should be to avoid asbestos containing materials to be used on board ships and in the shipyards, by means of avoiding the use of asbestos at the source.
This source approach should be addressed in IMO and within the European Community. E.g. the European Directive concerning the Marine Equipment Directive has no requirements related to asbestos, which could be a first step.

Meanwhile this instruction is the basis for future developments. In some countries shipyards are busy to develop procedures to avoid the use of asbestos containing materials. These procedures could be a basis to deviate from this instruction when proven to be reliable.