Inland Waterways Council


news from the IWC

The Inland Waterways Councils deals with the legal situation of traditional and historic ships on inland waterways.

The first harmonization of ship safety rules for inland waterways ships was published as EC Directive 82/714 in 1982. At this time the Rhine rules continued as a separate system of certification.

The original Directive did not contain regulations for passenger vessels and leisure craft. This means that the majority of traditional ships had only to comply with national regulations.

In 2006 a new EU Directive 2006/87 came into force and included all ships of over 20m in length and those whose length x breadth x maximum draught in meters = 100 or more; thus including passenger vessels and leisure craft. The Directive classified inland waters into Zones 1-4 and Zone R – the Rhine. (See Note 1)

Up until 30 December 2018 passenger and recreational ships built before 16 June 2008 were certified with some relaxations allowed if the relaxation did not pose a manifest danger to others. Ships certified in this way will continue to be allowed the relaxation at certificate renewal. (But see Note 2 below)

Ships that were not certified by 30 December 2018 are treated as a new build and will have to comply with the full regulations contained in the Directive. There are some transitional (date – limited) provisions in Chapters 32 and 33.

In 2015 the EU Commission and CCNR agreed on a new common Directive and appointed a new body, the Comité Européen pour l’Élaboration de Standards dans le Domaine de Navigation Intérieure (CESNI), which is responsible for agreeing construction and equipment standards for inland vessels across European inland waterways and brings together experts from the Member States of the European Union and the CCNR and representatives of international organisations with an interest in inland navigation.

In October 2018 a new system of harmonized regulations of both EU and Rhine regulations came into force contained in ES-TRIN 2015/1 and EC2016/1629. These rules include Chapters which can be applicable to traditional ships and are less onerous than the full commercial certification. These are 20 (sailing passenger vessels), 24 (traditional ships) and 26 (recreational craft). CESNI has now further amended the regulations with ES-TRIN 2017 and makes further proposals in ES-TRIN 2019.

Chapter 24 is particularly helpful to operators of traditional ships but does require surveys by both a nationally approved expert and a surveyor from an approved inspection body.
The object of the Inland Waterway Council of EMH is to continue the development and implementation of Chapter 24 by joining CESNI as an Approved Organisation.

Flowchart Traditional Vessels

ES-TRIN 2017

All efforts undertaken by EMH have followed these prime objectives:

  • to protect operating Traditional Ships from threats due to inappropriate application of modern ship safety rules,
  • to influence and control any European harmonization processes on the field of ship safety,
  • to enable international traffic of Traditional Ships under the regime of European and national certification.

Members of the IWC are:

  • Paul van Ommen (Chairman, The Netherlands)
  • Lars Kröger (Germany)
  • Kari Anne Flaa (Norway)
  • Anders Svenson (Sweden)
  • Andy Soper (United Kingdom)

New Traditional ships under EU certification no longer inconceivable

At the last CESNI working group meeting, the Dutch delegation asked the CESNI committee to kindly help with the interpretation of the rules for traditional ships. The ESTRIN text I chapter 24 is not very clear and several applications for restoration projects in the Netherlands have stalled because of the uncertainties about the meaning of the rules. Questions concerned engines installed in existing and to be restored ships, the possibility of taking passengers along and more.

In general, the discussions were very positive from a ship operator perspective. It took the committee two sessions to reach some sort of an agreement on a Q and A (not a revision of the rules themselves) that is to accompany ESTRIN and must provide guidance for ship operators, inspection bodies and governments alike.

Traditional craft, ESTRIN says, are only allowed to take part in shipping “when operated for demonstration purposes”. But what are ‘demonstration purposes’? Are you allowed to experience the demonstration from onboard the actual vessel cruising gently along, or are you to look at it from a safe distance, ashore? Luckily it seems to be the former.

And how to deal with engines already installed in a renovation project or engines to be installed later? Should these engines comply with all emission requirements? It turns out, not surprisingly, only in the case the engine is already on board and properly certificated, it can stay there. In all other cases new build rules apply.

Another question was how deviations from the relevant requirements (for a certain ship category, pleasure, passenger, or something else) were to be administered. It was concluded that, yes, all exemptions must be listed on the certificate as well as the compensatory measures. Agreed was, and this of course is probably the most consequential of all, operational measures may be included here.

That traditional craft may carry passengers, seems to be another clarification of the rules. The traditional ship must therefore comply with the chapter 19 requirements (for passenger ships) and the above-mentioned operational measures or equivalent alternative measures may be factored in (and neatly listed on an exemption certificate).

All in all, a positive outcome we think, or at least a step in the right direction. There was quite some support from most delegations and the concept of a ‘new’ traditional ship no longer is an outlandish thought but is taking shape more and more every day.