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Instant access to IMO dynamic positioning guidelines from the IMCA website

Published on 23 August 2017

It was in March 2015 that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) agreed to use the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) proposals as the basis for the review of the IMO Guidelines for vessels with dynamic positioning (DP) systems (MSC/Circ.645).

Now that IMO has published the update (MSC/Circ.1580), IMCA has consolidated the guidance into document 245 IMO which is quickly and easily accessible on the IMCA website at, together with the original guidance contained in 113 IMO which is at

The Guidelines for vessels with dynamic positioning systems (MSC/Circ.645) were approved by MSC 63 in May 1994 to provide the industry with an international standard for dynamic positioning systems on all types of vessels (see Guidelines for vessels with dynamic positioning systems (MSC Circular 645)).Since that time DP has evolved from being a tool primarily for mobile offshore drilling units (MODUs) maintaining position over offshore wells, to being employed for a wide range of position keeping operations, with systems being fitted on a much larger number of new vessels and on an increasingly diverse set of vessels, from offshore units to shuttle tankers and passenger vessels.

It is recommended that the newly adopted Guidelines (MSC.1/Circ.1580) be applied to vessels and units constructed on or after 9 June 2017. For vessels and units constructed on or after 1 July 1994 but before 9 June 2017, the previous version of the Guidelines (MSC/Circ.645) continue to be applied; however, it is recommended that sections 4 and 6 of MSC.1/Circ.1580 are applied to all new and existing vessels and units as appropriate.

“IMCA publishes a variety of guidance documents on DP, setting out industry good practice, based on the cumulative experience of its members to help ensure safe and efficient DP operations, so it seems sensible to have both the IMO documents easily available on our website,” explains Richard Benzie, IMCA’s Technical Director. 

“‘Guidelines for the design and operation of dynamically positioned vessels‘ (IMCA M 103) is the association’s key document which is regularly reviewed and updated. Others address annual DP trials programmes for DP vessels, based on comprehensive and standard report formats for ease of use by vessel operators and their clients. IMCA also produces technical reports, aimed at helping vessel operators review, specify, maintain and use a variety of positioning systems, thrusters, power and vessel management systems and other equipment.

“Our database of DP station keeping events extends back over more than 30 years and all DP vessel operating companies are encouraged to participate in reporting these events for mutual benefit,” he adds. “Each year reports received are collated and an anonymised analysis of DP station keeping events is published. IMCA also publishes a quarterly DP event bulletin featuring analysis of recent DP station keeping events.”