WNTI gap analysis of the Code of Safety for Nuclear Merchant Ships


2 May 2024

IMO Resolution a.491(XII) adopted, on 19th November 1981, The Code of Safety for Nuclear Merchant Ships into SOLAS Ch.8.

The Code has not been updated since mainly because, with a couple of early exceptions, nuclear propulsion was not used for foreign going merchant vessels. In recent years, there has been renewed interest in using nuclear energy to power merchant ships. Unlike the early vessels that are referred to in the Code, these new concepts and designs will be powered using different technologies.

The Code was written to apply to pressurised water cooled reactors. The nuclear reactors now being proposed for commercial ships will include many different technologies, such as molten salt reactors and heat pipe reactors.

There is now an urgent need to revise the Code to make it technology agnostic and to make it goal setting rather than prescriptive.

Over that last couple of years WNTI has worked on a gap analysis of the Code. This gap analysis will detail the areas of the Code that will need updating, should the IMO Member States decide that a revision is to be conducted.

To support the WNTI paper, at plenary and in the IMO Maritime Safety Committee Meeting 108 (MSC108) working groups, several members of the WNTI Maritime Applications and Nuclear Propulsion Working Group (MANP WG) will attend MSC108.

In addition to our plenary and working group activities, WNTI MANP WG Chair, Mikal Bøe, will give a presentation titled ‘Realising net zero with nuclear power – the way forward’. This presentation will be made after the plenary session on 20th May, and will be followed by a reception hosted by WNTI in the Delegates lounge. This reception is sponsored by WNTI member Core Power.

WNTI Members can download the two submitted papers for MSC108 below.