IGC Code: International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk, 2016 Edition (IA104E)

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June 2016
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The IGC Code is an international standard for the safe carriage, by sea in bulk, of liquefied gases and certain other substances listed in chapter 19 of the Code. It looks at the products carried and prescribes the design and construction standards of the ships involved and the equipment they should carry to minimise the risk to the ship, its crew and the environment.

The International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (IGC Code), which was adopted by resolution MSC.5(48), has been mandatory under SOLAS chapter VII since 1st July 1986. It applies to ships regardless of their size, including those of less than 500 gross tonnage, engaged in carriage of liquefied gases having a vapour pressure exceeding 2.8 bar absolute at a temperature of 37.8°C, and certain other substances listed in chapter 19 of the Code.

The Code looks at how ships can be designed and constructed to withstand the hazardous properties of liquefied gases in bulk. This includes containment of the cargo following a collision or stranding. It covers every aspect of ship design, including ship survival capability, ship arrangements, cargo containment and control systems, fire protection, materials of construction, personnel protection and operating requirements.


At its forty-eighth session (June 1983), the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted amendments to the International Maritime Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 (SOLAS), by resolution MSC.6(48).

The amendments consisted of complete replacement texts of chapters III and VII and changes in chapters II-1, II-2 and IV.

The new chapter VII made the provisions of the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (IGC Code), which was adopted by resolution MSC.5(48), mandatory under the 1974 SOLAS Convention.

The new 2016 edition of the IGC Code incorporates the amendments adopted by the MSC at its ninety-third session (May 2014) by resolution MSC.370(93). These amendments, which entered into force on 1 January 2016, consist of a complete replacement text of the IGC Code.

Unless expressly provided otherwise, the requirements of the IGC Code, as amended by resolution MSC.370(93), apply to ships whose keels are laid, or which are at a similar stage of construction, on or after 1 July 2016.

For ships constructed on or after 1 July 1986 and before 1 July 2016, unless expressly provided otherwise, the Administration shall ensure that such ships comply with the requirements which are applicable under the IGC Code, as adopted by resolution MSC.5(48) and as amended by resolutions MSC.17(58), MSC.30(61), MSC.32(63), MSC.59(67), MSC.103(73), MSC.177(79) and MSC.220(82).


1 The purpose of this Code is to provide an international standard for the safe carriage, by sea in bulk, of liquefied gases and certain other substances that are listed in chapter 19. Through consideration of the products carried, it prescribes the design and construction standards of the ships involved and the equipment they should carry to minimize the risk to the ship, its crew and the environment.

2 The basic philosophy is one of ship types related to the hazards of the products covered by the Code. Each of the products may have one or more hazard properties, which include flammability, toxicity, corrosivity and reactivity. A further possible hazard may arise where products are transported under cryogenic or pressure conditions.

3 Severe collisions or strandings could lead to cargo tank damage and result in uncontrolled release of the product. Such a release could result in evaporation and dispersion of the product and, in some cases, could cause brittle fracture of the ship’s hull. The requirements in the Code are intended to minimize this risk as far as is practicable, based upon present knowledge and technology.

4 Throughout the development of the Code, it was recognized that it must be based on sound naval architectural and engineering principles and the best understanding available as to the hazards of the various products covered. Gas carrier design technology is not only a complex technology but is rapidly evolving and the Code shall not remain static. The Organization will periodically review the Code, continually taking into account both experience and future development.

5 Requirements for new products and their conditions of carriage will be circulated as recommendations, on an interim basis, when adopted by the Maritime Safety Committee of the Organization, prior to the entry into force of the appropriate amendments, under the terms of article VIII of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974.

6 The Code primarily deals with ship design and equipment. To ensure the safe transport of the products the total system must, however, be appraised. Other important facets of the safe transport of the products, such as training, operation, traffic control and handling in port, are being or will be examined further by the Organization.

7 The development of the Code has been greatly assisted by a number of organizations in consultative status, such as the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators Limited (SIGTTO) and other organizations, such as members of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS).

8 Chapter 18 of the Code dealing with operation of liquefied gas carriers highlights the regulations in other chapters that are operational in nature and mentions those other important safety features that are peculiar to gas carrier operations.

9 The layout of the Code is in line with the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code), adopted by the Maritime Safety Committee at its forty-eighth session. Gas carriers may also carry bulk liquid chemicals covered by the IBC Code, as prescribed in the IGC Code.

10 Floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) facilities, which are designed to handle liquefied gases in bulk, do not fall under the IGC Code. However, designers of such units may consider using the IGC Code to the extent that the Code provides the most appropriate risk mitigation measures for the operations the unit is to perform. Where other more appropriate risk mitigation measures are determined that are contrary to this Code, they shall take precedence over the Code.

Resolution MSC.5(48)

Resolution MSC.370(93)

Chapter 1 – General

1.1 Application and implementation

1.2 Definitions

1.3 Equivalents

1.4 Surveys and certification

Chapter 2 – Ship survival capability and location of cargo tanks

2.1 General

2.2 Freeboard and stability

2.3 Damage assumptions

2.4 Location of cargo tanks

2.5 Flood assumptions

2.6 Standard of damage

2.7 Survival requirements

Chapter 3 – Ship arrangements

3.1 Segregation of the cargo area

3.2 Accommodation, service and machinery spaces and control stations

3.3 Cargo machinery spaces and turret compartments

3.4 Cargo control rooms

3.5 Access to spaces in the cargo area

3.6 Airlocks

3.7 Bilge, ballast and oil fuel arrangements

3.8 Bow and stern loading and unloading arrangements

Chapter 4 – Cargo containment

4.1 Definitions

4.2 Application

Part A Cargo containment

4.3 Functional requirements

4.4 Cargo containment safety principles

4.5 Secondary barriers in relation to tank types

4.6 Design of secondary barriers

4.7 Partial secondary barriers and primary barrier small leak protection system

4.8 Supporting arrangements

4.9 Associated structure and equipment

4.10 Thermal insulation

Part B Design loads

4.11 General

4.12 Permanent loads

4.13 Functional loads

4.14 Environmental loads

4.15 Accidental loads

Part C Structural integrity

4.16 General

4.17 Structural analyses

4.18 Design conditions

Part D Materials and construction

4.19 Materials

4.20 Construction processes

Part E Tank types

4.21 Type A independent tanks

4.22 Type B independent tanks

4.23 Type C independent tanks

4.24 Membrane tanks

4.25 Integral tanks

4.26 Semi-membrane tanks

Part F Cargo containment systems of novel configuration

4.27 Limit state design for novel concepts

Part G Guidance

4.28 Guidance notes for chapter 4

Chapter 5 – Process pressure vessels and liquids, vapour and pressure piping systems

5.1 General

5.2 System requirements

5.3 Arrangements for cargo piping outside the cargo area

5.4 Design pressure

5.5 Cargo system valve requirements

5.6 Cargo transfer arrangements

5.7 Installation requirements

5.8 Piping fabrication and joining details

5.9 Welding, post-weld heat treatment and non-destructive testing

5.10 Installation requirements for cargo piping outside the cargo area

5.11 Piping system component requirements

5.12 Materials

5.13 Testing requirements

Chapter 6 – Materials of construction and quality control

6.1 Definitions

6.2 Scope and general requirements

6.3 General test requirements and specifications

6.4 Requirements for metallic materials

6.5 Welding of metallic materials and non-destructive testing

6.6 Other requirements for construction in metallic materials

6.7 Non-metallic materials

Chapter 7 – Cargo pressure/temperature control

7.1 Methods of control

7.2 Design of systems

7.3 Reliquefaction of cargo vapours

7.4 Thermal oxidation of vapours

7.5 Pressure accumulation systems

7.6 Liquid cargo cooling

7.7 Segregation

7.8 Availability

Chapter 8 – Vent systems for cargo containment

8.1 General

8.2 Pressure relief systems

8.3 Vacuum protection systems

8.4 Sizing of pressure relieving system

Chapter 9 – Cargo containment system atmosphere control

9.1 Atmosphere control within the cargo containment system

9.2 Atmosphere control within the hold spaces (cargo containment systems other than type C independent tanks)

9.3 Environmental control of spaces surrounding type C independent tanks

9.4 Inerting

9.5 Inert gas production on board

Chapter 10 – Electrical installations

10.1 Definitions

10.2 General requirements

Chapter 11 – Fire protection and extinction

11.1 Fire safety requirements

11.2 Fire mains and hydrants

11.3 Water-spray system

11.4 Dry chemical powder fire-extinguishing systems

11.5 Enclosed spaces containing cargo handling equipment

11.6 Firefighter’s outfits

Chapter 12 – Artificial ventilation in the cargo area

12.1 Spaces required to be entered during normal cargo handling operations

12.2 Spaces not normally entered

Chapter 13 – Instrumentation and automation systems

13.1 General

13.2 Level indicators for cargo tanks

13.3 Overflow control

13.4 Pressure monitoring

13.5 Temperature indicating devices

13.6 Gas detection

13.7 Additional requirements for containment systems requiring a secondary barrier

13.8 Automation system

13.9 System integration

Chapter 14 – Personnel protection

14.1 Protective equipment

14.2 First-aid equipment

14.3 Safety equipment

14.4 Personal protection requirements for individual products

Chapter 15 – Filling limits for cargo tanks

15.1 Definitions

15.2 General requirements

15.3 Default filling limit

15.4 Determination of increased filling limit

15.5 Maximum loading limit

15.6 Information to be provided to the master

Chapter 16 – Use of cargo as fuel

16.1 General

16.2 Use of cargo vapour as fuel

16.3 Arrangement of spaces containing gas consumers

16.4 Gas fuel supply

16.5 Gas fuel plant and related storage tanks

16.6 Special requirements for main boilers

16.7 Special requirements for gas-fired internal combustion engines

16.8 Special requirements for gas turbine

16.9 Alternative fuels and technologies

Chapter 17 – Special requirements

17.1 General

17.2 Materials of construction

17.3 Independent tanks

17.4 Refrigeration systems

17.5 Cargoes requiring type 1G ship

17.6 Exclusion of air from vapour spaces

17.7 Moisture control

17.8 Inhibition

17.9 Flame screens on vent outlets

17.10 Maximum allowable quantity of cargo per tank

17.11 Cargo pumps and discharge arrangements

17.12 Ammonia

17.13 Chlorine

17.14 Ethylene oxide

17.15 Separate piping systems

17.16 Methyl acetylene-propadiene mixtures

17.17 Nitrogen

17.18 Propylene oxide and mixtures of ethylene oxide-propylene oxide with ethylene oxide content of not more than 30% by weight

17.19 Vinyl chloride

17.20 Mixed C4 cargoes

17.21 Carbon dioxide: high purity

17.22 Carbon dioxide: reclaimed quality

Chapter 18 – Operating requirements

18.1 General

18.2 Cargo operations manuals

18.3 Cargo information

18.4 Suitability for carriage

18.5 Carriage of cargo at low temperature

18.6 Cargo transfer operations

18.7 Personnel training

18.8 Entry into enclosed spaces

18.9 Cargo sampling

18.10 Cargo emergency shutdown (ESD) system

18.11 Hot work on or near cargo containment systems

18.12 Additional operating requirements

Chapter 19 – Summary of minimum requirements


Appendix 1 IGC Code Product Data Reporting Form

Appendix 2 Model form of International Certificate of Fitness for the Carriage of Liquefied Gases in Bulk

Appendix 3 Example of an addendum to the International Certificate of Fitness for the Carriage of Liquefied Gases in Bulk

Appendix 4 Non-metallic materials

Appendix 5 Standard for the use of limit state methodologies in the design of cargo containment systems of novel configuration

A??s a specialized agency of the United Nations, IMO is the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping. Its main role is to create a regulatory framework for the shipping industry that is fair and effective, universally adopted and universally implemented.

In other words, its role is to create a level playing-field so that ship operators cannot address their financial issues by simply cutting corners and compromising on safety, security and environmental performance. This approach also encourages innovation and efficiency.

Shipping is a truly international industry, and it can only operate effectively if the regulations and standards are themselves agreed, adopted and implemented on an international basis. And IMO is the forum at which this process takes place.

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