The vessel’s unique convertible cabins won the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS)’s stamp of approval
With the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the maritime industry, a shipowner’s efforts to contain any infections onboard led to an ABS’ IDM-A (Infectious Disease Mitigation-Arrangements) notation.
Demonstrating COVID-19 preparedness
Launched last November, the IDM-A notation honours shipowners’ efforts to address the configuration of onboard spaces. The spaces can be used for the isolation and segregation of crew, passengers and onshore visitors. Conditions of modified ventilation and interior surfaces of certain accommodation or work spaces are also part of the qualifying criteria for IDM-A notation.
Singapore-based Tasik Subsea altered their Southern Star vessel by incorporating a specially-designed ‘citadel’ with modified AC/ventilation systems, replacing exhaust air routes and taps to hands-free. The citadel also enables the conversion of cabins to isolation spaces through segregation with doors. The Marshall Islands-flagged ship also presented to ABS’ surveyors its detailed procedures to deal with crew changes to prevent infectious diseases infiltrating the ship; contain any disease in case of an outbreak, and evacuation procedures for serious cases.
John Giddens, CEO of Tasik Subsea was delighted with ABS’ recognition of the company’s emergency preparedness plans. He remarked, “Like many others, we realised an outbreak of COVID-19 onboard our vessel would be a personal and commercial disaster for our crew, clients and our company. It would result in stopping the vessel’s work and forcing it to a quarantine anchorage for an extended period, with no movement of people on or off the vessel while the medical issues for our marine and project crew were dealt with.
“We have been carefully managing our operations and implementing measures to protect our crew and vessel from COVID-19 since early last year. We are pleased to be able to benchmark our measures against an ABS Class standard and proud to be the first in the world to achieve IDM-A Class notation.”
Managing COVID-19 at sea
Gareth Burton, ABS’ vice president for global technology, commented: “Floating assets are every bit as vulnerable to outbreaks of infectious disease as land-based facilities; demonstrated by the current pandemic. This new guidance responds to the pressing industry need for strategies to mitigate the transmission of infectious diseases, including COVID-19 and a range of other hazards. The notation breaks new ground for the industry, allowing operators and owners to clearly demonstrate that risks of infectious outbreaks have been considered.”
Pier Carazzai, ABS’ vice president for the south pacific region’s global business development seconded, “ABS is concerned, given the unique conditions aboard ship, that COVID-19 and other similar infectious diseases could wreak havoc on a vessel if left unchecked. Its IDM-A standard has codified best practices, and provides confidence for operators on managing their offshore operations in a pandemic. Given the restricted environment on marine and offshore assets, infectious diseases have the potential to spread rapidly.”