46 CFR 56.50-85 - Tank-vent piping.

§ 56.50-85 Tank-vent piping.

(a) This section applies to vents for all independent, fixed, non-pressure tanks or containers or for spaces in which liquids, such as fuel, ship's stores, cargo, or ballast, are carried.

(1) The structural arrangement in double bottom and other tanks shall be such as to permit the free passage of air and gases from all parts of the tanks to vent pipes.

(2) Tanks having a comparatively small surface, such as fuel oil settling tanks, need be fitted with only one vent pipe, but tanks having a comparatively large surface shall be fitted with at least two vent pipes. The vents shall be located so as to provide venting of the tanks under any service condition.

(3) Vent pipes for fuel oil tanks shall, wherever possible, have a slope of no less than 30°. Header lines, where both ends are adequately drained to a tank, are excluded from this requirement.

(4) Tank vents must extend above the weather deck, except vents from fresh water tanks, bilge oily-water holding tanks, bilge slop tanks, and tanks containing Grade E combustible liquids, such as lubricating oil, may terminate in the machinery space, provided -

(i) The vents are arranged to prevent overflow on machinery, electrical equipment, and hot surfaces;

(ii) Tanks containing combustible liquids are not heated; and

(iii) The vents terminate above the deep load waterline if the tanks have boundaries in common with the hull.

(5) Vents from oil tanks must terminate not less than three feet from any opening into living quarters.

(6) Vents extending above the freeboard deck or superstructure deck from fuel oil and other tanks must be at least Schedule 40 in wall thickness. Except for barges in inland service and for Great Lakes vessels, the height from the deck to any point where water may gain access through the vent to below deck must be at least 30 inches (760mm) on the freeboard deck and 17 1/2 inches (450mm) on the superstructure deck. On Great Lakes vessels, the height from the deck to any point where water may gain access through the vent to below deck must be at least 30 inches (760mm) on the freeboard deck, 24 inches (610mm) on the raised quarterdeck, and 12 inches (305mm) on other superstructure decks. Where the height of vents on Great Lakes vessels may interfere with the working of the vessel, a lower height may be approved by the Marine Safety Center provided the vent cap is properly protected from mechanical damage. For barges in inland service, the vents must extend at least six inches above the deck. A lesser amount may be approved by the Marine Safety Center if evidence is provided that a particular vent has proven satisfactory in service.

(7) Satisfactory means, permanently attached, shall be provided for closing the openings of all vents, except that barges in inland service may be exempted. Acceptable means of closure are:

(i) A ball check valve where the ball float, normally in the open position, will float up and close under the action of a submerging wave. The valve shall be designed so that the effective clear discharge area through the valve with the float in the open position is not less than the inlet area of the vent pipe to which the valve is connected.

(ii) A hinged closure normally open on the outlet of the return bend, which must close automatically by the force of a submerging wave; or

(iii) Another suitable device acceptable to the Commanding Officer, Marine Safety Center.

(8) Vent outlets from all tanks which may emit flammable or combustible vapors, such as bilge slop tanks and contaminated drain tanks, must be fitted with a single screen of corrosion-resistant wire of at least 30 by 30 mesh, or two screens of at least 20 by 20 mesh spaced not less than one-half inch (13mm) nor more than 1 1/2 inches (38mm) apart. The clear area through the mesh must not be less than the internal unobstructed area of the required pipe.

(9) Where vents are provided with flame screens, the closure device shall be situated so as not to damage these screens.

(10) The diameter of each vent pipe must not be less than 1 1/2 inches nominal pipe size for fresh water tanks, 2 inches nominal pipe size for water ballast tanks, and 2 1/2 inches nominal pipe size for fuel oil tanks, except that small independent tanks need not have a vent more than 25% greater in cross-sectional area than the fill line.


(i) If a tank may be filled by a pressure head exceeding that for which the tank is designed, the aggregate cross-sectional area of the vents in each tank must be not less than the cross-sectional area of the filling line unless the tank is protected by overflows, in which case the aggregate cross-sectional area of the overflows must be not less than the cross-sectional area of the filling line.

(ii) Provision must be made to guard against liquids rising in the venting system to a height that would exceed the design head of a cargo tank or fuel-oil tank. It may be made by high-level alarms or overflow-control systems or other, equivalent means, together with gauging devices and procedures for filling cargo tanks.

(12) Where deep tanks are intended for the occasional carriage of dry or liquid cargo, a “spectacle” or ring and blank flange may be fitted in the overflow pipe so arranged as not to interfere with venting when the tanks contain oil.

(13) Vents from fresh water or water ballast tanks shall not be connected to a common header with vents from oil or oily ballast tanks.

(b) Tank vents must remain within the watertight subdivision boundaries in which the tanks they vent are located. Where the structural configuration of a vessel makes meeting this requirement impracticable, the Marine Safety Center may permit a tank vent to penetrate a watertight subdivision bulkhead. All tank vents which penetrate watertight subdivision bulkheads must terminate above the weather deck.

[CGFR 68-82, 33 FR 18843, Dec. 18, 1968, as amended by CGD 77-140, 54 FR 40610, Oct. 2, 1989; CGD 83-043, 60 FR 24774, May 10, 1995; CGD 95-012, 60 FR 48050, Sept. 18, 1995]

This is a list of United States Code sections, Statutes at Large, Public Laws, and Presidential Documents, which provide rulemaking authority for this CFR Part.

This list is taken from the Parallel Table of Authorities and Rules provided by GPO [Government Printing Office].

It is not guaranteed to be accurate or up-to-date, though we do refresh the database weekly. More limitations on accuracy are described at the GPO site.

United States Code
Presidential Documents

Executive Order ... 12234

Executive Order ... 12777

Title 46 published on 2015-12-02

The following are ALL rules, proposed rules, and notices (chronologically) published in the Federal Register relating to 46 CFR Part 56 after this date.

  • 2016-07-22; vol. 81 # 141 - Friday, July 22, 2016
    1. 81 FR 48220 - Harmonization of Standards for Fire Protection, Detection, and Extinguishing Equipment
      GPO FDSys XML | Text
      Final rule.
      This final rule is effective August 22, 2016. The incorporation by reference of certain publications listed in the rule is approved by the Director of the Federal Register on August 22, 2016.
      33 CFR Parts 140, 145, 148, and 149
The section you are viewing is cited by the following CFR sections.