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Solving a Problem: EV / Hybrid Vehicles and Ro-Ro Ferries

New challenges need new solutions

As Electric Vehicles (EVs) and Hybrid Vehicles continue to grow in numbers, there is a noticeable shift towards more sustainable transportation.  However, as with the introduction of any new technology, there are unknown impacts and effects that need careful consideration to ensure that continuing adoption doesn’t compromise the safety of drivers or others.

One of these “ripple effects'' has been seen within the maritime industry. Roll-On Roll-Off (Ro-Ro) ferries have been used around the UK to move damaged vehicles for many years; whilst the risk of fire is not necessarily more than that associated with traditional vehicles, there are increased risks  presented by EV / Hybrid around the length of time a fire may last and its ability to reignite.  

With no clear requirement in place from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) on how these scenarios should be approached, these risks have raised concerns about how to proceed and this has left large numbers of vehicles close to ports that are unable to be moved in a manner that provides confidence for the safety of all involved.

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Maritime Guidance Note 653(M)

In August 2023 the Government introduced Maritime Guidance Note 653(M) in order to;

raise awareness of the risks and mitigations for the carriage of electric vehicles on board passenger roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) ferries. Guidance is provided on fire detection and firefighting measures for electric vehicles onboard, the carriage of electric vehicles other than cars, carriage of damaged electric vehicles and advice on charging of electric vehicles onboard.”

It was designed as best practice guidance to support the shipping and automotive industries when moving - and potentially charging - EV / hybrid vehicles aboard Ro-Ro ferries and covers the following areas;

  • Identification and Vehicle Positioning

  • Electric Vehicle Fires - Background, Detection and Fire Prevention Measures

  • Carriage of Electric Vehicles other than cars

  • Carriage of Damaged Electric Vehicles

  • Design, arrangement, and location of charging equipment

  • Wiring Arrangements

  • Connections to the ship and charing operations

(we aren’t going to review these in detail at this time, but more information can be seen directly in the guidance notes linked above)

In particular, section 5.3 states;

Electric Vehicles that have been damaged sufficiently to indicate that battery damage might have occurred, should be thoroughly inspected by a competent person before being allowed to be transported on board. The inspection should assess the risk of fire, and subsequently the risk to the vessel. Ships’ crew are not likely

 to be suitably trained in identification of these hazards and declarations from suitably qualified persons should be provided before carriage. Competent persons may include those recognised by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) “TechSafe” accreditation, the Original Equipment Manufacturers recognised service agents, or similar.”

Implications for the Automotive Industry

Whilst the Guidance Note provides some level of detail around what is required, what wasn’t clear is the training that should be undertaken in order to evidence competence.

In late 2023 Pro-Tech began discussions with the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) to determine what good should look like in this scenario in order to provide support alongside the Maritime Guidance Note.

There existed already two specific awards relating to EV / Hybrid vehicles that we had created and were delivering as IMI accredited courses;

However, we felt that these weren’t fit for purpose in this scenario, and that MGN 653(M) required specific support for those who would be responsible for identifying any hazards before transportation onboard Ro-Ro ferries.

As a result, we have created a new IMI Accredited Professional Achievement Programme; Inspection of damaged EV/Hybrid Vehicles and/or components for travel onboard passenger roll-on /roll-off (ro-ro) ferries - MGN 653(M).  This is a Professional Achievement Certificate (PAC) that can be gained by candidates holding the IMI Level 3 Award in EV / Hybrid System Repair and Replacement.

The Pro-Tech solution - Inspection of damaged EV/Hybrid Vehicles and/or components for travel onboard passenger roll-on /roll-off (ro-ro) ferries - MGN 653(M)

Our programme has been specifically designed to meet the above requirements of MGN 653(M) and the course content outlines - at a high level - how to;

  • Correctly carry out a risk assessment, and 

  • Provide a detailed report “certifying” that the vehicle is safe for carriage thus minimising the risk of fire onboard.

This is a one day course that we will be delivering both on site in Burton, and across the UK for teams who will benefit from this accreditation.

Holding this accreditation will provide key in ensuring that EV / Hybrid vehicles can be moved safely around the UK - both on land and at sea - and ensure that the competent people are on hand to carry out the appropriate inspections that will facilitate damaged EV / Hybrid vehicles being onboarded to Ro-Ro ferries.

Continuous learning and development at Pro-Tech


Experience the difference with Pro-Tech MOT & Automotive Academy. I’d love to connect with you and talk about how we can help to support you in driving your business further.

Get in touch at or call our team on 01283 734427.

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