ZESTAs at the Table Developing Interim Guidance for Hydrogen Ships

Nov 20, 2023

In September 20-29 the annual CCC-meeting CCC9 was held at the IMO headquarters in London. Due to a recently obtained consultative status at the IMO, ZESTAs was this year among the NGOs invited to discuss and form interim guidelines for the safety of ships among the delegations from the various Flag States. Working Group 3 developing Interim Guidelines for Hydrogen Ships was of particular interest to ZESTAs. Since April a ZESTAs committee led by Olav Roald Hansen (HYEX Safety) has participated in a correspondence group related to guidelines for hydrogen ships. Olav, Madadh MacLaine, and David Newman participated in CCC9 in September, with Olav contributing significantly to the hydrogen discussions in Working Group 3.

There was much learning in participating in the meetings. IMO is a UN-organization, the rules processes are consensus-based and progress can be slow. For a novel marine fuel like hydrogen there is limited experience among many delegations, and one of the key ambitions of ZESTAs is to contribute with knowledge and experience to the discussions. While the main ambition is to ensure guidelines that lead to safe ships, it has also been a focus to avoid that guidelines become stricter than necessary or have cost-driving formulations which are not justified or necessary by safety considerations. Another ambition is that design options which may require “special considerations by the administration” are mentioned and visible in the guidelines, so that ship designers understand that alternative design options exist.

CCC9 did not manage to finalise the interim guidance for hydrogen ships this year but showed good progress. The correspondence group will therefore continue for another year with the ambition to finalise the guidance at CCC10. Even with the guidance established there will be requirements for a “holistic risk assessments” documenting a safe design.


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