(a) Each tank must be provided with a suitable means of determining liquid level. Except for a main cargo tank on a tank vessel, each integral hull tank and compartment, unless at all times accessible while the vessel is operating, must be fitted with a sounding pipe.
(b) Where sounding pipes terminate below the freeboard deck on cargo vessels, they shall be fitted with gate valves. On passenger vessels, where sounding pipes terminate below the bulkhead deck, they shall be fitted with self-closing gate valves.
(c) Except as allowed by this paragraph, on each vessel constructed on or after June 9, 1995, no sounding pipe used in a fuel-oil tank may terminate in any space where the risk of ignition of spillage from the pipe might arise. None may terminate in a space for passengers or crew. When practicable, none may terminate in a machinery space. When the Commanding Officer, Marine Safety Center, determines it impracticable to avoid terminating a pipe in a machinery space, a sounding pipe may terminate in a machinery space if all the following requirements are met:
(1) In addition to the sounding pipe, the fuel-oil tank has an oil-level gauge complying with paragraph (d) of this section.
(2) The pipe terminates in a place remote from ignition hazards unless precautions are taken such as fitting an effective screen (shield) to prevent the fuel oil, in case of spillage through the end of the pipe, from coming into contact with a source of ignition.
(3) The end of the pipe is fitted with a self-closing blanking device and a small-diameter, self-closing control cock located below the blanking device for the purpose of ascertaining before the blanking device is opened that no fuel oil is present. Provision must be made to ensure that no spillage of fuel oil through the control cock involves an ignition hazard.
(d) On each vessel constructed on or after June 9, 1995, other oil-level gauges may be used instead of sounding pipes if all the following requirements are met:
(1) In a passenger vessel, no such gauge may require penetration below the top of the tank, and neither the failure of a gauge nor an overfilling of the tank may permit release of fuel into the space.
(2) In a cargo vessel, neither the failure of such a gauge nor an overfilling of the tank may permit release of fuel into the space. The use of cylindrical gauge-glasses is prohibited. The use of oil-level gauges with flat glasses and self-closing valves between the gauges and fuel tanks is acceptable.
(e) The upper ends of sounding pipes terminating at the weather deck shall be closed by a screw cap or plug. Great Lakes dry cargo carriers may have the sounding pipes which service ballast water tanks terminate at least 4 inches above the deck if closure is provided by a tight fitting hinged cover making metal-to-metal contact with the hinge on the forward side. Positive means to secure these caps in the closed position shall be provided. Provision shall be made to prevent damage to the vessels' plating by the striking of the sounding rod.
(f) On mobile offshore drilling units where installation of sounding pipes may not be practicable for some tanks, alternate means of determining liquid level may be used if approved by the Commandant.