Contingency Plans for Year 2000
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Contingency Plans for Year 2000


Shipping companies should now be urgently drawing up contingency plans for continuing operations in the event of millennium bug equipment breakdown. This advice appears in a new publication, "Practical guidelines for Year 2000 contingency planning", produced by Lloyd's Register (LR) and based on work by the UK P&I Club, which offers guidance to ship operators, managers and masters on how to prepare themselves to manage a Year 2000 related incident if it occurs. In the words of the Guidelines, they should "expect the unexpected". Such a contingency plan is distinct from the Year 2000 compliance programme which shipping companies should already have in place: that of checking date-processing electronic systems and reducing the likelihood of their posing a risk to operations as a result of the Year 2000 problem. However much effort has already gone into detecting and resolving problems, companies should now also be thinking how to tackle actual failure on the rollover date to equipment such as radar, diesel generators, bridge controls and steering gear. The new guidelines, just issued, point out that such failures could happen for a number of reasons: for example, risks might not be considered or detected during compliance tests; testing might not be completed in time; remedies might not be applied in time; and equipment which has been tested might still fail. The guidelines further point out that contingency planning is mandatory for certain vessels under the International Safety Management (ISM) Code and may well be considered obligatory to satisfy 'due diligence' requirements. Contingency plans will in general be required only for those ship systems where failure would have a high impact (failure could cause loss of life or loss of a vessel, a major pollution incident or a serious threat to company survival) or medium impact (failure could cause delays to operations, commercial penalties or fines for pollution). However, as the guidelines make clear, the impact is determined not only by the type of equipment affected but also by the context. A steering gear failure while a ship is in calm, open waters is likely to have a much less severe consequence than the same failure in a confined waterway. To take just one example: a number of electronic components and systems are normally associated with steering the ship. Rather than have a contingency plan based on the failure of any individual element, it may be more effective to build a plan around the total loss of steering. This will allow a company clearly to identify, in a worst case, the capability of manual intervention. In order to reduce the risk at the rollover date, shipowners should consider such options as arranging for vessels to stay out in open water, remain in port, or avoid busy and restricted channels . Also certain operations - such as loading or unloading cargo or bunkering - might be avoided until systems can be checked after the rollover date. More information: Contact - Barry Lester, Press & PR, +44 171 423 2308 or fax: +44 171 423 2028: email:


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