|SOLAS - Safety Of Life At Sea
International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea,
Of all international conventions dealing with maritime
safety, the most important is the International
Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).
It is also one of the oldest, the first version having
been adopted at a conference held in London in 1914.
Since then there have been four other SOLAS conventions:
the second was adopted in 1929 and entered into force in
1933; the third was adopted in 1948 and entered into
force in 1952; the fourth was adopted (under the auspices
of IMO) in 1960 and entered into force in 1965; and the
present version was adopted in 1974 and entered into
force in 1980.
The SOLAS conventions have all covered many aspects of
safety at sea. The 1914 version, for example, included
chapters on safety of navigation, construction,
radiotelegraphy, life-saving appliances and fire
protection. These subjects are still dealt with in
separate chapters in the 1974 version.
The 1914 Convention was, as the title implies, concerned
primarily with the safety of human life. The late 19th
and early 20th centuries represented the golden age of
passenger travel by sea: there were no aircraft, and
emigration, from Europe to the Americas and other parts
of the world, was still taking place on a massive scale.
Passenger ships were therefore much more common than they
are today and accidents frequently led to heavy
casualties. The annual loss of life from British ships
alone averaged between 700 and 800 during this period.
The incident which led to the convening of the 1914
international SOLAS conference was the sinking of the
White Star liner Titanic on her maiden voyage in April
1912. More than 1,500 passengers and crew died and the
disaster raised so many questions about current standards
that the United Kingdom Government proposed holding a
conference to develop international regulations. The
Conference was attended by representatives of 13
countries and the SOLAS Convention which resulted was
adopted on 20 January 1914.
It introduced new international requirements dealing with
safety of navigation for all merchant ships; the
provision of watertight and fire-resistant bulkheads;
life-saving appliances and fire prevention and fire
fighting appliances on passenger ships. Other
requirements dealt with the carriage of radiotelegraph
equipment for ships carrying more than 50 persons (check
Chapter V) (had the Titanic's distress messages not been
picked up by other ships the loss of life would probably
have been even greater); the Conference also agreed on
the establishment of a North Atlantic ice patrol.
The Convention was to enter into force in July 1915, but
by then war had broken out in Europe and it did not do
so, although many of its provisions were adopted by
In 1927, however, proposals were made for another
conference which was held in London in 1929. This time 18
countries attended. The conference adopted a new SOLAS
convention which followed basically the same format as
the 1914 version but included several new regulations. It
entered into force in 1933.
One of the two annexes to the
convention revised the international regulations for
preventing collisions at sea (Collision Regulations).
By 1948 the 1929 convention had been overtaken by
technical developments and the United Kingdom again
hosted an international conference which adopted the
third SOLAS Convention. It followed the already
established pattern but covered a wider range of ships
and went into considerably greater detail.
Important improvements were made in such matters as
watertight subdivision in passenger ships; stability
standards; the maintenance of essential services in
emergencies; structural fire protection, including the
introduction of three alternative methods of subdivision
by means of fire resistant bulkheads, and the enclosure
of main stairways. An international safety equipment
certificate for cargo ships of 500 gross tons and above
was introduced - an indication of the growing importance
of cargo ships relative to passenger ships, which were
already facing competition from aircraft.
The Collision Regulations were also revised and
regulations concerning the safety of navigation,
meteorology and ice patrols were brought up to date. A
separate chapter was included dealing with the carriage
of grain and dangerous goods, including explosives. There
had been considerable developments in radio since 1929
and the 1948 Convention took these into account (the
title of the relevant chapter made specific reference to
radiotelephony as well as radiotelegraphy).
The year 1948 was particularly significant because a
conference held in Geneva under the auspices of the
United Nations adopted a convention establishing IMO - or
the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization
(IMCO), as it was then known.
The 1948 SOLAS Convention recognized that the creation of
this new Organization would, for the first time, mean
that there was a permanent international body capable of
adopting legislation on all matters related to maritime
safety. It was originally intended that the Convention
would be kept up to date by periodic amendments adopted
under the auspices of IMO but in the event it took so
long to secure the ratifications required to bring the
IMO Convention into force that the new Organization did
not meet until 1959. It was then decided that rather than
amend the 1948 Convention it would be better to adopt a
completely new instrument - the fourth SOLAS Convention.
The 1960 SOLAS Convention
The 1960 SOLAS Conference, which
was attended by delegates from 55 countries, 21 more than
in 1948, was the first conference to be held by IMO.
Although only twelve years had passed since the last
SOLAS Convention was adopted, the pace of technical
change was quickening and the 1960 SOLAS Convention
incorporated numerous technical improvements.
Like its predecessor, the new Convention incorporated
control provisions including requirements for various
surveys and certificates for cargo ships of 300 tons
gross tonnage and above making international voyages and
for a Government to investigate casualties when "it
judges that such an investigation may assist in
determining what changes in the present regulations might
be desirable" and to supply IMO with pertinent
Many safety measures which had once applied only to
passenger ships were extended to cargo ships, notably
those dealing with emergency power and lighting and fire
protection. The radio requirements were again revised and
in the chapter dealing with life-saving appliances
provision was made for the carriage of liferafts, which
had developed to such an extent that they could be
regarded as a partial substitute for lifeboats in some
Regulations dealing with construction and fire protection
were revised as were the rules dealing with the carriage
of grain and dangerous goods. The final chapter contained
outline requirements for nuclear-powered ships which in
1960 seemed likely to become important in the years to
As in 1929 and 1948 revised
Collision Regulations were annexed to the Convention.
Finally, the Conference adopted some 56 resolutions, many
of which called upon IMO to undertake studies, collect
and disseminate information or take other action. These
included, for example, a request that IMO develop a
unified international code dealing with the carriage of
dangerous goods - a resolution which resulted in the
adoption five years later of the International Maritime
Dangerous Goods Code.
The 1960 SOLAS Conference was to determine much of IMO's
technical work for the next few years. It was originally
intended that the 1960 SOLAS Convention would be kept up
to date by means of amendments adopted as and when it
entered into force (which took place in 1965). The first
set of amendments was adopted in 1966 and from then on
amendments were introduced regularly. Their contents are
1966: amendments to Chapter II, dealing with special fire
safety measures for passenger ships.
1967: six amendments adopted, dealing with fire safety
measures and arrangements for life-saving appliances on
certain tankers and cargo ships; VHF radiotelephony in
areas of high traffic density; novel types of craft; and
the repair modification and outfitting of ships.
1968: new requirements introduced into Chapter V dealing
with shipborne navigational equipment, the use of
automatic pilot and the carriage of nautical
1969: various amendments adopted, dealing with such
matters as firemen's outfits and personal equipment in
cargo ships; specifications for lifebuoys and
lifejackets; radio installations and shipborne
1971: regulations amended concerning radiotelegraphy and
radiotelephony and routeing of ships.
1973: regulations concerning life-saving appliances;
radiotelegraph watches; pilot ladders and hoists. The
major amendment was a complete revision of Chapter VI
which deals with the carriage of grain.
Unfortunately, it became increasingly apparent as the
years went by that these efforts to respond to the
lessons learnt from major disasters and keep the SOLAS
Convention in line with technical developments were
doomed to failure - because of the nature of the
amendment procedure adopted at the 1960 conference. This
stipulated that amendments would enter into force twelve
months after being accepted by two-thirds of Contracting
Parties to the parent Convention.
This procedure had been perfectly satisfactory in the
past when most international treaties were ratified by a
relatively small number of countries. But during the
1960s the membership of the United Nations and
international organizations such as IMO was growing
rapidly. More and more countries had secured their
independence and many of them soon began to build up
their merchant fleets. The number of Parties to the SOLAS
Convention grew steadily. This meant that the number of
ratifications required to meet the two-thirds target
needed to secure entry into force of SOLAS amendments
also increased. It became clear that it would take so
long for these amendments to become international law
that they would be out of date before they did so.
As a result IMO decided to introduce a new SOLAS
Convention which would not only incorporate all the
amendments to the 1960 Convention so far adopted but
would also include a new procedure which would enable
future amendments to be brought into force within an
acceptable period of time.
The 1974 SOLAS Convention
The 1974 SOLAS Conference was held in London from 21
October to 1 November and was attended by 71 countries.
The Convention which was adopted is the version currently
in force and it is unlikely to be replaced by a new
instrument because of the new tacit amendment procedure
which is included in Article VIII.
As explained earlier, the amendment procedure
incorporated in the 1960 Convention stipulated that an
amendment would only enter into force when it had been
accepted by two-thirds of Contracting Governments. It
therefore required Contracting Governments to take
positive action to accept the amendment. This usually
meant that acceptance was delayed pending introduction of
the necessary national legislation and this was not
always given high priority by Governments, particularly
as the pace of acceptance by other States was slow.
The 1974 Convention endeavours to solve this problem by
in effect reversing the process: it assumes that
Governments are in favour of the amendment unless they
take positive action to make their objection known.
Article VIII states that amendments to the chapters
(other than chapter I) of the Annex, which contain the
Convention's technical provisions - shall be deemed to
have been accepted within two years (or a different
period fixed at the time of adoption) unless they are
rejected within a specified period by one-third of
Contracting Governments or by Contracting Governments
whose combined merchant fleets represent not less than 50
per cent of world gross tonnage.
The article contains other provisions for entry into
force of amendments including the explicit acceptance
procedure but in practice the tacit acceptance procedure
described above proves the most rapid and effective way
of securing the entry into force of amendments to the
technical annex (other than Chapter I) and is now
Chapter I: General provisions
The most important of these concern the surveys required
for various types of ships and the issuing of documents
signifying that ships meet the requirements of the
The survey requirements for passenger ships include a
survey before the ship is put into service; a periodical
survey (in most cases once every 12 months) and
additional surveys as the occasion arises. In the case of
cargo ships, after the initial survey, the ship is
subject to a subsequent survey every two years in respect
of life-saving appliances and other equipment; once every
year in respect of radio installation; and in respect of
hull, machinery and equipment, at such intervals as the
Administration may consider necessary to ensure that the
ship's condition is in all respects satisfactory.
Regulation 12 of Chapter I lists the various certificates
which have to be issued by the flag State as proof that a
ship has been inspected and found to be in compliance
with the requirements of the Convention. The certificates
cover Passenger Ship Safety, Cargo Ship Safety
Construction, Cargo Ship Safety Equipment and Cargo Ship
Safety Radio certificates. There is also an Exemption
Certificate which is issued when an exemption from
requirements is granted by the flag State.
The control procedures laid down in Regulation 19 of this
chapter are primarily designed to enable port State
officers to ensure that foreign ships calling at their
ports possess valid certificates. In most cases,
possession of valid certificates is sufficient proof that
the ship concerned complies with Convention requirements.
The port State officer is empowered to take further
action if there are clear grounds for believing that the
condition of the ship or of its equipment does not
correspond substantially with the particulars of any of
The officer can take steps to ensure that the ship does
not sail until it can do so without endangering
passengers, crew or the ship itself. If action of this
type is taken, the flag State must be informed of the
circumstances and the facts must also be reported to IMO.
Chapters II-1 and II-2
This chapter includes a number of important changes from
the 1960 version mainly in the area of fire safety and
the 1974 Conference found it necessary to divide the
chapter into two sections. The main points of the
chapters are as follows:
Chapter II-1: Construction - subdivision and
stability, machinery and electrical installations
The subdivision of passenger ships into watertight
compartments must be such that after assumed damage to
the ship's hull the vessel will remain afloat in a stable
position. Requirements for the watertight integrity and
bilge pumping arrangements for passenger ships are also
The degree of subdivision - measured by the maximum
permissible distance between two adjacent bulkheads -
varies with the ship's length and the service in which it
is engaged. The highest degree of subdivision applies to
ships of the greatest length primarily engaged in the
carriage of passengers.
The requirements for machinery and electrical
installations are designed to ensure that services which
are essential for the safety of the ship, passengers and
crew are maintained under various emergency conditions.
Chapter II-2: Construction - Fire protection, fire
detection and fire extinction
Casualties to passenger ships through fire in the early
1960s emphasized the need to improve the fire protection
provisions of the 1960 Convention, and in 1966 and 1967
amendments were adopted by the IMO Assembly. These and
other amendments, particularly detailed fire safety
provisions for passenger ships, tankers and combination
carriers, have been incorporated in this chapter,
including requirements for inert gas systems in tankers.
These provisions are based on the following principles:
1. Division of the ship into main and vertical zones by
thermal and structural boundaries.
2. Separation of accommodation spaces from the remainder
of the ship by thermal and structural boundaries.
3. Restricted use of combustible materials.
4. Detection of any fire in the zone of origin.
5. Containment and extinction of any fire in the space of
6. Protection of the means of escape or of access for
7. Ready availability of fire-extinguishing appliances.
8. Minimization of the possibility of ignition of
flammable cargo vapour.
Chapter III: Life-saving appliances
The original Chapter III was divided into three parts.
Part A contained general requirements, which applied to
all ships, described appliances by type, their equipment,
construction specifications, methods of determining their
capacity and provisions for maintenance and availability.
It also described procedures for emergency and routine
drills. Parts B and C contained additional requirements
for passenger and cargo ships respectively.
Chapter IV: Radiotelegraphy and radiotelephony
The chapter is divided into four parts.
Part A prescribes the type of radio installations to be
carried and Part B the operational requirements for radio
watchkeeping, while technical requirements are detailed
in Part C. This latter part includes technical provisions
for direction-finders and for motor lifeboat
radiotelegraph installations, together with portable
radio apparatus for survival craft.
The radio officer's obligations regarding mandatory
log-book entries are listed in Part D.
The chapter is closely linked to the Radio Regulations of
the International Telecommunication Union.
Chapter V: Safety of navigation
The provisions of this chapter are mainly of an
operational nature and apply to all ships on all voyages.
This is in contrast to the Convention as a whole, which
only applies to ships of a certain size engaged on
The subjects covered include the maintenance of
meteorological services for ships; the ice patrol
service; routeing of ships; and the provision of search
and rescue services; etc.
The chapter also includes a general obligation for
Contracting Governments to ensure that all ships are
sufficiently and efficiently manned from a safety point
Requirements for the fitting of radar and other
navigational aids are also contained in this chapter.
Chapter VI: Carriage of grain
Shifting is an inherent characteristic of grain, and its
effect on a ship's stability can be disastrous.
Consequently, the SOLAS Convention contains provisions
concerning stowing, trimming and securing the cargo.
In the 1974 Convention this chapter was radically
amended, following extensive study and testing after the
introduction of the 1960 version. This chapter was also
adopted by the IMO Assembly as resolution A.264(VIII) in
1973 and Governments were urged to introduce its
provisions as a replacement for the 1960 chapter.
The 1974 Convention recognizes ships constructed
specially for the transport of grain, and specifies a
method for calculating the adverse heeling moment caused
by shift of cargo in ships carrying bulk grain. Each ship
must carry a document of authorization, grain loading
stability data and associated plans of loading.
Chapter VII: Carriage of dangerous goods
This chapter prescribes the classification, packing,
marking and stowage of dangerous substances in packaged
form. The chapter does not apply to substances carried in
bulk in purpose-built ships.
The provisions on classification follow the method used
by the UN for all modes of transport, although these
provisions are more stringent.
Contracting Governments are required to issue or cause to
be issued detailed instructions concerning the carriage
of dangerous goods, and for this purpose the
International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code was adopted
by IMO in 1965. For many years it has been up-dated
periodically to accommodate new substances and to
supplement or revise existing provisions to keep pace
Chapter VIII: Nuclear ships
Only basic requirements are given, which were
supplemented by various recommendations contained in an
attachment to the Final Act of the 1974 SOLAS Conference.
These recommendations have now been overtaken by the
safety code for nuclear merchant ships and
recommendations on the use of ports by nuclear merchant
The Collision Regulations
One subject which was not discussed at the 1974 SOLAS
Conference was the revision of the Collision Regulations,
which had been on the agenda of all previous SOLAS
conferences. The reason was the decision taken some years
before that the Collision Regulations should no longer be
appended to the SOLAS Convention but should become a
separate international instrument.
The Convention on the International Regulations for
Preventing Collisions at Sea was adopted by an IMO
conference in 1972 and entered into force in 1977. It is
significant that this Convention, like SOLAS, also
incorporates a "tacit acceptance" procedure.
The 1978 SOLAS Protocol
The requirements for entry into force of the SOLAS
Convention - acceptance by 25 States with at least 50 per
cent of world gross tonnage of merchant shipping - meant
that it would take several years before the Convention
entered into force. It finally did so on 25 May 1980.
In the meantime a series of accidents involving oil
tankers in the winter of 1976-77 led to increasing
pressure for further international action. As a result
early in 1978 IMO convened an international conference on
tanker safety and pollution prevention which adopted a
number of important modifications to SOLAS as well as to
the International Convention for the Prevention of
Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), 1973.
Since the 1974 SOLAS Convention had not entered into
force it was impossible to amend the Convention. Instead
the conference decided to adopt a Protocol which would
enter into force six months after ratification by 15
States with 50 per cent of world tonnage of merchant
ships (but not before the parent 1974 SOLAS Convention
had entered into force). The Protocol entered into force
on 1 May 1981.
The main points of the Protocol are as follows:
1. New crude carriers and product carriers of 20,000 dwt
and above are required to be fitted with an inert gas
system (Chapter II-2).
2. An inert gas system is mandatory for existing crude
oil carriers of 70,000 dwt as of 1 May 1983, and as of 1
May 1985 for ships of 20,000-70,000 dwt (Chapter II-2).
3. In the case of crude carriers of 20,000-40,000 dwt
there is provision for exemption by flag States where it
is considered unreasonable or impracticable to fit an
inert gas system and high-capacity fixed washing machines
are not used. But an inert gas system is always required
when crude oil washing is operated (Chapter II-2).
4. An inert gas system is required on existing product
carriers as from 1 May 1983 and as from 1 May 1985 for
ships of 40,000-70,000 dwt and down to 20,000 dwt where
ships are fitted with high capacity washing machines
5. All ships of 1,600-10,000 tons gross tonnage are
required to be fitted with radar, and ships of 10,000
gross tonnage and above must have two radars, each
capable of operating independently. Requirements for
operation and testing of steering gear were also
introduced (Chapter V).
6. All tankers of 10,000 gross tonnage and above must
have two remote steering gear control systems, each
operable separately from the navigating bridge (Chapter
7. The main steering gear of new tankers of 10,000 gross
tonnage and above must comprise two or more identical
power units, and be capable of operating the rudder with
one or more units (Chapter II-1).
8. A number of important regulations designed to improve
the survey and certification of ships were also adopted.
These include modifications to the provisions relating to
the intervals of surveys and inspections and the
introduction of intermediate surveys of life-saving
appliances and other equipment of cargo ships and, in the
case of hull, machinery and equipment, periodical surveys
for cargo ships and intermediate surveys for tankers of
ten years of age and over. Unscheduled inspections and
mandatory annual surveys were also introduced.
Furthermore the port State control provisions were
rewritten (Chapter I).
The 1981 Amendments
As previously noted, the 1974 Convention basically
consists of the 1960 version incorporating the amendments
adopted between 1966 and 1973, together with the new
"tacit acceptance" procedure.
During the 1970s the Organization prepared a number of
major changes to the Convention, some of which were
incorporated in the 1978 Protocol. Others were included
in amendments adopted in November 1981 and, under the
tacit acceptance procedure, entered into force on 1
The most important of these concern Chapter II-1
(Construction - subdivision and stability, machinery and
electrical installations) and Chapter II-2 (Construction
- fire protection, fire detection and fire extinction).
In both cases the chapters have virtually been rewritten
The changes to Chapter II-1 include the provisions of
resolution A.325(IX), which was adopted in 1975, on
machinery and electrical requirements. They also include
further modification to regulations 29 and 30 of the 1978
SOLAS Protocol on steering gear. The requirements
introduce the concept of duplication of steering gear
control systems in tankers and were developed to prevent
a repetition of the defects which led to the grounding of
the tanker Amoco Cadiz in 1978.
Other amendments to Chapter II-1 include collision
bulkheads in cargo ships, passenger ships designed for
the carriage of goods vehicles and accompanying
personnel, and bilge pumping arrangements for cargo
The amendments to Chapter II-2 include the requirements
of resolutions A.327(IX) and A.372(X), adopted in 1975
and 1977 respectively, provisions for halogenated
hydrocarbon extinguishing systems and a new regulation 62
on inert gas systems. The extensive amendments which had
to be incorporated made a complete rearrangement of that
Chapter III (Life-saving appliances) was slightly amended
to provide a cross-reference to the amendments to Chapter
II-1 and minor amendments were made to several
regulations in Chapter IV (Radiotelegraphy and
Important changes were made to Chapter V (Safety of
navigation), including the addition of new requirements
concerning the carriage of shipborne navigational
equipment (Regulation 12). The revised requirements cover
such matters as gyro and magnetic compasses; radar
installations; automatic radar plotting aids;
echo-sounders; devices to indicate speed and distance;
rudder angle indicators; propeller revolution indicators;
rate-of-turn indicators; radio direction-finding
apparatus; and equipment for homing on the radiotelephone
The application of Chapter VI (Carriage of grain) was
extended to ships of less than 500 gross tonnage engaged
on international voyages.
The 1983 Amendments
The second set of amendments to the SOLAS Convention was
adopted in November 1983 and entered into force on 1 July
They include a few editorial changes to Chapter II-1 and
some further revisions of Chapter II-2, including several
amendments to regulations which were changed in 1981.
This was considered necessary by IMO's Maritime Safety
Committee (MSC) because of their importance to the safety
of bulk carriers and passenger ships in particular.
One of the most important changes affects regulation 56
(Location and separation of spaces in tankers) which has
been completely rewritten. One section of the new
regulation applies specifically to combination carriers.
The revised Chapter III has been increased from 38
regulations to 53 and retitled "Life-saving
appliances and arrangements". The main changes are
to ensure operational readiness of ships and the safe
abandonment survival, detection and retrieval of
The requirements of the revised chapter apply to new
ships the keels of which were laid on or after 1 July
1986 (the date of entry into force of the 1983
amendments). A few requirements, mostly dealing with
life-saving appliance operations and drills, also apply
to existing ships as from 1 July 1986. Some requirements,
including those for the carriage of additional liferafts,
life-saving radio equipment, lifejacket lights and other
aids to assist detection, immersion suits and thermal
protective aids, applied to existing ships not later than
1 July 1991.
The amendments are designed not only to take into account
new developments but also to provide for the evaluation
and introduction of novel life-saving appliances or
Like the original chapter, the new chapter contains three
parts, but the arrangement is very different. Part A
deals with general matters such as application,
exemptions, definitions, evaluation and testing and
production tests. Part B is concerned with ship
requirements and contains three sections: Section I
(regulations 6 to 19) deals with passenger ships and
cargo ships; Section II (regulations 20 to 25) contains
additional requirements for passenger ships and Section
III (regulations 26 to 29) include additional
requirements for cargo ships.
Part C deals with life-saving appliance requirements. It
contains 24 regulations divided into eight sections.
Among the more important changes introduced by the
revised Chapter III are those involving lifeboats and liferafts.
Generally speaking, the
lifeboats required by the original Chapter III of SOLAS
1974 are of the traditional open design, most of them
without power. The revised chapter requires that all
partially or totally enclosed lifeboats be equipped with
an engine (regulation 41). All totally enclosed boats
must be self-righting. Cargo ships must carry sufficient
totally enclosed lifeboats on each side to accommodate
all on board. Cargo ships must also carry liferafts for
launching on each side which will accommodate all on
board. Chemical and oil tankers must carry totally
enclosed lifeboats equipped with a self-contained air
support system (if the cargo emits toxic gases). In
addition these lifeboats must afford protection against
fire for at least eight minutes (where the cargo is
Rescue boats - that is, boats which are designed to
rescue persons in distress and to marshal survival craft
are also required.
On passenger ships partially or totally enclosed
lifeboats are required on each side able to accommodate
not less than 50 per cent of all persons on board.
However, passenger ships on short international voyages
(ferries) are permitted to substitute liferafts for some
of the lifeboats.
The requirements for inflatable and rigid liferafts have
also been rewritten and expanded. The new chapter
incorporates several regulations which are designed to
ensure that all life-saving appliances are kept in good
condition and can be used promptly in the event of an
Chapter III requires (regulation 13) that survival craft
be capable of being launched when the ship has a list of
20 degrees in either direction: the original Chapter III
of SOLAS 1974 only requires launching with a 15 degree
Chapter III also includes (regulation 28) a requirement
that lifeboats on cargo ships of 20,000 tons gross
tonnage and above be capable of being launched when the
ship is making headway at speeds of up to 5 knots. This
is a new requirement and is in response to the fact that
ships have increased greatly in size since the original
chapter was drafted and take much longer to stop.
The greatest danger in an accident at sea is not drowning
but hypothermia, and the new chapter includes a number of
regulations designed to reduce this threat. These include
requirements for improved personal life-saving
appliances, including immersion suits (protective suits
which reduce the body heat-loss of a person in cold
water) and thermal protective aids (a bag or suit made of
waterproof material with low thermal conductivity).
The revised Chapter III also makes it easier for
survivors to be located. Lifejackets must be fitted with
lights and a whistle and provision is made for the use of
The amendments to Chapter VII (Carriage of dangerous
goods) of the Convention are of great importance since
they extend its application to chemical tankers and
liquefied gas carriers. The original chapter applied only
to dangerous goods carried in packaged form.
The revised chapter achieves this by making reference to
two new codes which have been developed by IMO. These are
the International Bulk Chemical (IBC) Code and the
International Gas Carrier (IGC) Code.
Regulation 10 of the new chapter states that "a
chemical tanker shall comply with the requirements of the
International Bulk Chemical Code and shall ... be
surveyed and certified as provided for in that Code. For
the purpose of this regulation the requirements of the
Code should be treated as mandatory".
Regulation 13 makes a similar reference to gas carriers
and the International Gas Carrier Code.
Both Codes relate to ships built on or after 1 July 1986
and were finalized and adopted by the MSC during the
session in which the amendments were adopted.
The (April) 1988 Amendments
In March 1987 the
roll-on/roll-off passenger ferry Herald of Free
Enterprise capsized and sank shortly after leaving
Zeebrugge in Belgium. The accident resulted in the deaths
of 193 passengers and crew members and led to demands for
action to improve the safety of a ship type which has
proved outstandingly successful from a commercial point
Shortly after the accident the United Kingdom came to IMO
with a request that a series of emergency measures be
considered for adoption. The proposals, many of which
were based on the findings of the inquiry into the
disaster, were presented to IMO in separate packages, the
first of which was adopted by the MSC in April 1988.
The amendments involve the addition of new regulations
23-2 and 42-1 to Chapter II-1 of the SOLAS Convention.
Regulation 23-2 deals with the integrity of the hull and
superstructure, damage prevention and control and
requires that indicators be provided on the navigating
bridge for all doors which, if left open, could lead to
major flooding of a special category space or a ro-ro
The same regulation also requires that means be arranged,
such as television surveillance or a water leakage
detection system, to provide an indication to the
navigating bridge of any leakage through doors which
could lead to major flooding. Existing ships could be
exempted from this requirement for a period of three
years after the entry into force of the amendments (i.e.
until 22 October 1992).
Special category and ro-ro spaces must also be patrolled
or monitored by effective means, such as television
surveillance, so that undue movement of vehicles in
adverse weather and unauthorized access by passengers can
be observed whilst the ship is underway.
A new regulation 42-1 deals with supplementary emergency
lighting for ro-ro passenger ships. All public spaces and
alleyways must be provided with supplementary lighting
that can operate for at least three hours when all other
sources of electric power have failed and under any
condition of heel.
A portable rechargeable battery-operated lamp must be
provided in every crew space alleyway, recreational space
and every working space which is normally occupied unless
supplementary emergency lighting is provided. Existing
ships could be exempted until
22 October 1990.
The amendments entered into force on 22 October 1989
under tacit acceptance procedure. This normally results
in amendments entering into force within two and a half
years of the date of adoption by the MSC, but Article
VIII does allow the Committee to select a different
period of time but not less than a year and a half and
this was the first time that the procedure had been used
to reduce the period before entry into force to less than
two and a half years. The amendments entered into force
only 18 months after adoption - an indication of the
great importance which IMO attaches to ro-ro safety.
The (October) 1988 Amendments
In October 1988 the MSC met again in a special session
requested and paid for by the United Kingdom to consider
a second package of amendments arising from the Herald of
Free Enterprise tragedy. The amendments adopted entered
into force on 29 April 1990.
One of the most important amendments concerns regulation
8 of Chapter II-1 and is designed to improve the
stability of passenger ships in the damaged condition.
Work on the amendment began before the Herald of Free
Enterprise sinking but adoption was brought forward
because of its relevance to ro-ro safety. The amendment
applies to ships built on or after 29 April 1990.
The amendment considerably expands the existing
regulation by introducing a value of 15 degrees for a
minimum range of positive residual lever curve and a
value of 0.015 m-rad for the area under the righting
lever curve in the final condition after damage. For the
purpose of calculating heeling moments it takes into
account such factors as the crowding of passengers on to
one side of the ship, the launching of survival craft on
one side of the ship and wind pressure. The amendment
also stipulates that the maximum angle of heel after
flooding but before equalization shall not exceed 15
A further amendment to
regulation 8 was proposed by the United Kingdom. It is
concerned with intact rather than damage stability. It
requires masters to be supplied with data necessary to
maintain sufficient intact stability and the amendment
expands the regulation by requiring that the information
must show the influence of various trims, taking into
account operational limits.
Ships must also have scales of draughts marked clearly at
the bow and stern. Where these are not easily readable
the ship must also be fitted with a reliable draught
indicating system. After loading and before departure the
master must determine the ship's trim and stability.
The next amendment adds a new regulation 20-1 which
requires that cargo loading doors shall be locked before
the ship proceeds on any voyage and remain closed until
the ship is at its next berth.
The third amendment affects regulation 22 and states that
at periods not exceeding five years a lightweight survey
must be carried out to passenger ships to verify any
changes in lightweight displacement and the longitudinal
centre of gravity. The lightweight of a ship consists of
the hull, machinery crew and fittings without fuel and
stores. Additions to the structure can add significantly
to lightweight and affect the ship's stability.
The November 1988 Protocols
The April and October amendments were all adopted in
response to an emergency. By contrast the other changes
made to SOLAS during 1988 were all the result of many
years of careful deliberation. They involved two subjects
- the introduction of the Global Maritime Distress and
Safety System (GMDSS) and the introduction of a
harmonized survey and certification system.
The latter was recommended by the 1978 conference on
tanker safety and pollution prevention. It recognized the
difficulties caused by the survey and certification
requirements of SOLAS, the International Convention on
Load Lines, 1966 and the International Convention for the
Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by
the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto.
All three instruments require the issuing of certificates
to show that requirements have been met and this has to
be done by means of a survey which can involve the ship
being out of service for several days. However, the
survey dates and intervals between surveys do not always
coincide. As a result, a ship may have to go into port or
repair yard for a survey required by one convention
shortly after doing the same thing in connection with
another instrument. The
1978 conference called upon IMO
to develop a harmonized system which would enable the
surveys to be carried out at the same time.
Although MARPOL can be amended by means of a tacit
acceptance procedure, this procedure cannot be applied to
SOLAS and the Load Lines conventions as far as surveys
and certification are concerned. It was decided therefore
to introduce the harmonized system by means of Protocols
to the two instruments which will enter into force 12
months after being accepted by not less than 15 States
whose combined merchant fleets constitute not less than
50 per cent of world tonnage. Neither Protocol can enter
into force before the other and entry into force
requirements have not yet been met.
The harmonized system provides for a maximum period of
validity of five years for all certificates of cargo
ships and 12 months for the Passenger Ship Safety
Certificate. Annual inspections have been made mandatory
for cargo ships and unscheduled inspections have been
discontinued. Other changes have been made to survey
intervals and requirements.
The 1988 (GMDSS) Amendments
Work on the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System
(GMDSS)1 began in the 1970s and the amendments entered
into force on 1 February 1992. The System is being phased
in between 1 February 1992 and 1 February 1999.
The basic concept of the system
is that search and rescue (SAR) authorities ashore as
well as shipping in the immediate vicinity of the ship in
distress will be rapidly alerted to a distress incident
so they can assist in a co-ordinated SAR operation with
the minimum of delay.
The system will also provide safety communications and
the dissemination of maritime safety information,
including navigational and meteorological warnings and
other urgent information to ships.
Although satellites operated by the International
Maritime Satellite Organization (INMARSAT) will play an
important part in the GMDSS they will not completely
replace coast radio stations and equipment requirements
will vary according to the sea area in which the ship
operates. Ships operating within range of DSC (Digital
Selective Calling) VHF coast stations, for example, will
only have to carry DSC VHF radio installations.
The new system will require the carriage of other
equipment designed to improve the chances of rescue
following an accident, such as satellite emergency
position-indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs) and search and
rescue radar transponders (SARTs) for the location of the
ship or survival craft.
It is expected that the GMDSS will greatly speed up SAR
operations and ensure that distress messages are received
much more quickly and reliably than at present. The use
of the Morse Code, which has been used for distress
communications at sea since the beginning of the century,
will also be phased out.
The April 1989 Amendments
Further amendments to SOLAS were adopted by the MSC in
April 1989. They also entered into force on 1 February
Several regulations of Chapter II-1 were amended, the
most important being regulation 15 which deals with
openings in watertight bulkheads in passenger ships. From
1 February 1992 new ships have had to be equipped with
power-operated sliding doors, except in specific cases
and must be capable of being closed from a console on the
bridge in not more than 60 seconds. The amendments make
it clear that all watertight doors must be kept closed
except in exceptional circumstances. Other amendments
affect Chapters II-2, III, IV, V and VI.
The May 1990 Amendments
Important changes were made to the way in which the
subdivision and damage stability of cargo ships is
determined. They apply to ships of 100 metres or more in
length built on or after 1 February 1992.
The amendments introduce a new part B-1 of Chapter II-1,
containing subdivision and damage stability requirements
for cargo ships based upon the so-called
"probabilistic" concept of survival, which was
originally developed through study of data relating to
collisions collected by IMO. This showed a pattern in
accidents which could be used in improving the design of
ships: most damage, for example, is sustained in the
forward part of ships and it seemed logical, therefore,
to improve the standard of subdivision there rather than
towards the stern. Because it is based on statistical
evidence as to what actually happens when ships collide,
the probabilistic concept provides a far more realistic
scenario than the earlier "deterministic"
method, whose principles regarding the subdivision of
passenger ships are theoretical rather than practical in
At the same meeting amendments were adopted to the
International Code for the Construction and Equipment of
Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code) and
the International Code for the Construction and Equipment
of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (IGC Code).
The May 1991 Amendments
Perhaps the main change made in these amendments, which
entered into force on 1 January 1994, was the complete
rewriting of Chapter VI, which previously only covered
the carriage of grain. The amendments extend the chapter
to cover other cargoes, including bulk cargoes.
Other amendments affect Chapter
II-2, which deals with fire safety, Chapter III
(life-saving appliances), Chapter V (safety of
navigation) and Chapter VII (carriage of dangerous
The new Chapter VI has been retitled Carriage of Cargoes.
It will apply to all cargoes except liquids in bulk and
gases in bulk, both of which are covered by other IMO
instruments. The revised chapter contains three sections.
Part A contains general provisions. Regulation 2 requires
shippers to provide masters with appropriate infirmation
concerning the cargo. Regulation 3 covers oxygen analysis
and detection equipment and regulation 4 deals with the
use of pesticides: reference is made to the IMO
Recommendation on the safe use of pesticides in ships.
Regulation 5 deals with stowage and securing and is
particularly concerned with cargo units and containers.
Part B of the new Chapter VI deals with bulk cargoes
other than grain. It contains only two regulations, the
first of which (Regulation 6) deals with the
acceptability of cargoes for shipment. Two IMO
recommendations, on intact stability and on severe wind
and rolling criterion, are referred to. Regulation 7
deals with the stowage of bulk cargoes.
Part C also only contains two regulations and its chief
purpose is to define the coverage of the International
The new Chapter VI is a great deal shorter than the
existing text, but its provisions are backed by a number
Only the International Grain Code is mandatory. The other
Codes are all recommended. They are the Code of Safe
Practice for Cargo Stowage and Securing, the Code of Safe
Practice for Solid Bulk Cargoes (BC Code) and the Code of
Safe Practice for Ships Carrying Timber Deck Cargoes.
Regulation 1 of the revised Chapter says that Contracting
Governments to SOLAS must ensure that "appropriate
information on cargo and its stowage and securing is
provided". By means of an asterisk, reference is
then made to the Codes.
Code of Safe Practice for Cargo
Stowage and Securing
The aim of the Code is to provide an international
standard for the safe stowage and securing of cargoes. It
gives advice on ways of securing and stowing cargoes and
gives specific guidance on cargoes which are known to
create difficulties or hazards. It also gives advice on
actions to be taken in heavy seas and to remedy cargo
The Code is divided into seven chapters and a number of
annexes dealing with such "problem" cargoes as
portable tanks and receptacles; wheel-based cargoes;
heavy cargo items such as locomotives and transformers;
coiled sheet steel; heavy metal products; anchor chains;
metal scrap in bulk; flexible intermediate bulk
containers (FIBCs); the under-deck stowage of logs; and
Code of Safe Practice for Ships
Carrying Timber Deck Cargoes, 1991
The Code replaces a version first circulated in 1972. It
was necessary to revise this because of the continuing
occurrence of casualties involving shift and the loss of
timber deck cargoes, the employment of larger and more
sophisticated ships, new techniques and the desirability
of having more comprehensive recommendations.
It covers such matters as stability, stowage, personnel
protection and safety devices and action to be taken
during the voyage. One appendix gives advice on stowing
practices and another contains general guidelines on the
under-deck stowage of logs.
International Code for the Safe
Carriage of Grain in Bulk
The Code applies to all ships, including those of less
than 500 tons gross tonnage.
Grain has been carried at sea for thousands of years, but
has always presented problems because of its tendency to
shift when carried in bulk. Measures to counter this were
included in the 1960 version of SOLAS and in equivalent
measures adopted in 1969.
The 1969 rules formed the basis
of Chapter VI of the 1974 SOLAS Convention, and were
known as the IMO Grain Rules. They are based on the
recognition that, in a compartment nominally filled with
grain, there exists a void space between the surface of
the grain and the deckhead. The Rules require
demonstration by calculation that at all times during a
voyage the ship will have sufficient intact stability to
provide adequate residual dynamic stability after taking
into account the adverse heeling effects caused by an
assumed pattern of grain movement.
Temporary fittings to reduce grain shift, such as
shifting boards, depend entirely upon achieving the
correct relationship between the intact stability
characteristics of the ship and the heeling effects of a
possible grain shift within the various compartments.
The Rules require a minimum level of acceptable stability
for the carriage of grain in terms of angle of heel due
to assumed grain shift, residual righting energy and
initial metacentric height.
In the new Chapter VI, the carriage of grain is generally
dealt with in two regulations and detailed grain rules
have been transferred to the mandatory Code.
Code of Safe Practice for Solid
Bulk Cargoes (BC Code)
The BC Code is IMO's basic instrument dealing with bulk
cargo carriage. It was first adopted by the IMO Assembly
in 1979 and has been revised several times since then.
Chapter II-2: Construction -
fire protection, fire detection and fire extinction
Two of the amendments apply to all ships. They affect
regulations 20 and 21, which deal respectively with fire
control plans and ready availability of
fire-extinguishing appliances. The remaining amendments
concern new passenger ships built on or after 1 January
1994 and are particularly concerned with fire safety on
ships, such as modern cruise liners, on which large open
spaces such as atriums are commonly provided.
Atriums are defined as public spaces which span three or
more decks and contain combustibles such as furniture and
enclosed spaces, such as shops, offices and restaurants.
Regulation 28 has been revised to make it mandatory for
such spaces to be provided with two means of escape, one
of which gives direct access to an enclosed vertical
means of escape.
Regulation 32 requires that such spaces be fitted with a
smoke extraction system, which can be activated manually
as well as by a smoke detection system, which is required
under the amended regulation 40. Regulation 36 has been
amended to make it mandatory for such spaces to be fitted
with automatic sprinkler systems.
Chapter III: Life-saving
appliances and arrangements
Regulation 18, which covers abandon ship training and
drills has been amended to cover emergency training and
drills. The changes deal with fire drills and on-board
training and instructions.
Chapter V: Safety of navigation
The amendments are concerned with arrangements for
transferring pilots. The new regulation 17 applies to all
arrangements for pilot transfer installed on or after 1
January 1994. Existing ships will continue to be covered
by the original text but "due regard shall be paid
to the standards adopted by the Organization".
Reference is then made to Assembly resolution A.667(16),
a recommendation on pilot transfer arrangements adopted
by the IMO Assembly in 1989, to which the technical
requirements previously contained in the Convention have
Chapter VII: Carriage of
Regulation 5, which deals with documents has been revised
to make it necessary for those packing dangerous goods in
containers to provide an appropriate certificate. Ships
must also carry lists showing the dangerous goods carried
and their location.
A new Regulation 7-1 has been added making it mandatory
for the loss overboard of dangerous goods to be reported
to the nearest coastal State. Reference is made to an IMO
resolution which outlines procedures for doing so.
The April 1992 Amendments
Measures to improve the damage
stability of passenger ships came into force on 29 April
1990 and the April 1992 amendments to regulation 8 of
Chapter II-1 mean that a slightly modified "SOLAS
90" standard will be phased in for ro-ro passenger
ships built before that date during an 11-year period
beginning on 1 October 1994. The phase-in period allowed
depends upon the value of a ratio A/Amax, determined in
accordance with a calculation procedure developed by the
Maritime Safety Committee to assess the survivability
characteristics of existing ro-ro passenger ships.
Those with an A/Amax value of less than 70% for example,
had to comply with the amendments by 1 October 1994, the
date on which the amendments entered into force. The
complete phase-in period and degree of compliance is
Less than 70%
1 October 1994
70%-less than 75%
1 October 1996
75%- less than 85%
1 October 1998
85%- less than 90%
1 October 2000
90%- less than 95%
1 October 2005
The application of the modified
SOLAS 90 standard to existing ships means that a large
part of the world's ro-ro fleet will have to be altered.
In some cases the changes could be extensive and the high
cost involved could lead to some of them being scrapped
and replaced with new tonnage.
The improved fire safety measures for existing passenger
ships which are introduced through amendments to Chapter
II-2 include mandatory requirements for smoke detection
and alarm and sprinkler systems in accommodation and
service spaces, stairway enclosures and corridors. Other
improvements involve the provision of emergency lighting,
general emergency alarm systems and other means of
communication. The new measures will be phased in between
1994 and 2000.
The amendments are particularly important because they
apply to existing ships. In the past, major changes to
SOLAS have been restricted to new ships by so-called
"grandfather clauses". The reason for this is
that major changes involve expensive modifications to
most ships. Because of the financial burden this imposes
on the industry, IMO has in the past been reluctant to
make such measures retroactive.
On this occasion the MSC decided that the new stability
and fire safety standards are so important that they
should not be restricted to new ships. The Herald of Free
Enterprise disaster of 1987 and the Scandinavian Star
fire of 1988 respectively both influenced the Committee
in making this decision.
The December 1992 Amendments
The amendments are concerned primarily with construction
requirements for new tankers and fire safety standards
for new passenger ships built on or after 1 October 1994,
the date on which the amendments entered into force under
the Convention's "tacit acceptance" provisions.
The amendments dealing with tankers affect two
regulations in Chapter II-1, which deals with
A new regulation 12-2 has been added which lays down
requirements for access to spaces in the cargo area of
oil tankers. A new requirement has also been added to
regulation 37 dealing with communications between the
navigation bridge and machinery spaces.
Major changes have been made to the requirements of
chapter II-2 dealing with fire protection of new
passenger ships. Several regulations are affected,
dealing with such matters as fire pump sizing, the
release mechanism of carbon dioxide fire-extinguishing
systems, the prohibition of new halon systems, and fixed
fire-detection and fire-alarm systems.
A new regulation 20-4 has been
added making it mandatory for ships carrying more than 36
passengers to have plans providing information on fire
safety measures. These are to be based on guidelines
developed by IMO. Regulations dealing with the fire
integrity of bulkheads and decks have been amended.
Regulation 28 (means of escape) has been considerably
altered: corridors from which there is only one route of
escape will be prohibited on new ships. All means of
escape must be marked by lighting or photoluminescent
strip indicators placed not more than 0.3 m above the
deck. The lighting must identify escape routes and escape
Requirements for fire doors (regulation 30) have been
Passenger ships carrying more than 36 passengers will
have to be equipped with an automatic sprinkler,
fire-detection and fire-alarm system.
The amendments will make it mandatory for new passenger
ships carrying more than 36 passengers to be fitted with
fire-detection alarms centralized in a control station
which must be continuously manned and from which it is
possible to control the fire-detection system, fire
doors, watertight doors, ventilation fans, alarms,
communications system and the microphone to the public
Two codes which are mandatory under SOLAS and MARPOL were
also amended. They are the International Code for the
Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied
Gases in Bulk (IGC Code) and the International Code for
the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying
Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code), both of which
apply to ships built after 1986 under the SOLAS
Convention. The amendments entered into force on 1 July
Other changes were made to the Code for the Construction
and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in
Bulk (BCH Code). This applies to ships built before 1986.
The amendments also entered into force on 1 July 1994.
The most important changes to the IBC Code are to Chapter
8 (cargo-tank venting and gas-freeing arrangements),
Chapter 17 (summary of minimum requirements) and Chapter
18 (list of chemicals to which the Code does not apply).
In each case the existing text is completely replaced.
Many of the amendments made to the BCH Code are intended
to keep it in line with the IBC Code. They include a new
text of Chapter VI (summary of minimum requirements) and
a new Chapter VIII dealing with the transport of liquid
Although some of the changes to the IGC Code are of an
editorial nature, others are intended to ensure that it
keeps pace with technical changes that have been made
since it was adopted in 1983.
The May 1994 amendments: the
The SOLAS Convention is now so widely accepted that, to
some extent at least, virtually every ship in the world
complies with it.
Thanks to the tacit acceptance amendment procedure it has
proved possible to keep the Convention up to date and
further changes were made in May 1994. Some of them were
adopted by the Maritime Safety Committee expanded to
include all Contracting Governments to the Convention
but, for legal reasons, others were dealt with by a
special conference. The changes made by the conference
included the addition of three new chapters to the
The details are as follows:
Chapter IX: Management for the Safe Operation of Ships:
the main purpose of the new chapter is to make the
International Safety Management (ISM) Code mandatory. The
ISM Code was adopted by the 18th session of the Assembly
in 1993 as resolution A.741(18). This already gives it
considerable force, since it was adopted unanimously and
can therefore be regarded as having the full support of
IMO's 153 Member States - but it is still only a
recommendation. By adding the ISM Code to SOLAS it is
intended to provide an international standard for the
safe management of ships and for pollution prevention.
The ISM Code establishes safety management objectives
to provide for safe practices in ship operation and a
safe working environment;
to establish safeguards against all identified risks;
to continuously improve safety management skills of
personnel, including preparing for emergencies.
The Code requires a safety
management system (SMS) to be established by "the
Company", which is defined as the shipowner or any
person, such as the manager or bareboat charterer, who
has assumed responsibility for operating the ship. This
system should be designed to ensure compliance with all
mandatory regulations and that codes, guidelines and
standards recommended by IMO and others are taken into
The SMS in turn should include a number of functional
a safety and environmental protection policy;
instructions and procedures to ensure safety and
defined levels of authority and lines of communication
between and amongst shore and shipboard personnel;
procedures for reporting accidents, etc.;
procedures for responding to emergencies;
procedures for internal audits and management review.
The Company is then required to establish and implement a
policy for achieving these objectives. This includes
providing the necessary resources and shore-based
support. Every company is expected "to designate a
person or persons ashore having direct access to the
highest level of management".
The Code then goes on to outline the responsibility and
authority of the master of the ship. It states that the
SMS should make it clear that "the master has the
overriding authority and the responsibility to make
decisions ..." The Code then deals with other
seagoing personnel and emphasizes the importance of
Companies are required to prepare plans and instructions
for key shipboard operations and to make preparations for
dealing with any emergencies which might arise. The
importance of maintenance is stressed and companies are
required to ensure that regular inspections are held and
corrective measures taken where necessary.
The procedures required by the Code should be documented
and compiled in a Safety Management Manual, a copy of
which should be kept on board. Regular checks and audits
should be held by the company to ensure that the SMS is
being complied with and the system itself should be
reviewed periodically to evaluate its efficiency.
After outlining the responsibilities of the company, the
Code then stresses that the responsibility for ensuring
that the Code is complied with rests with the Government.
Companies which comply with the Code should be issued
with a document of compliance, a copy of which should be
kept on board. Administrations should also issue a Safety
Management Certificate to indicate that the company
operates in accordance with the SMS and periodic checks
should be carried out to verify that the ship's SMS is
The Chapter is expected to enter into force under the
tacit acceptance procedure on 1 July 1998. It will apply
to passenger ships, oil and chemical tankers, bulk
carriers, gas carriers and cargo high speed craft of 500
gross tonnage and above not later than that date and to
other cargo ships and mobile offshore drilling units of
500 gross tonnage and above not later than 1 July 2002.
Chapter X: Safety of High- Speed
Craft: many new types of high-speed craft (HSC) are now
being constructed and the new chapter is intended to
provide mandatory international regulations dealing with
the special needs of this type of vessel.
The HSC Code will apply to high-speed craft engaged on
international voyages and will include passenger craft
which do not proceed for more than four hours at
operational speed from a place of refuge when fully laden
and cargo craft of 500 gross tonnage and above which do
not go more than eight hours from a port of refuge.
The craft covered by the draft Code include, among
others, air-cushion vehicles (such as hovercraft) and
hydrofoil boats. The Code is intended to be a complete
set of comprehensive requirements for high-speed craft,
including equipment and conditions for operation and
maintenance. A basic aim is to provide levels of safety
which are equivalent to those contained in SOLAS and the
International Convention on Load Lines, 1966.
The Chapter entered into force on 1 January 1996.
Chapter XI: Special Measures to
Enhance Maritime Safety. The chapter entered into force
on 1 January 1996 and contains four regulations.
Regulation 1 states that organizations entrusted by
Administrations with the responsibility for carrying out
surveys and inspections shall comply with the guidelines
adopted by the IMO Assembly by resolution A.739 (18) in
Such organizations are often used to carry out surveys
and inspections required by SOLAS, the 1966 Load Lines
Convention, MARPOL 73/78 and the 1969 Tonnage Convention.
The guidelines are intended to ensure that organizations
employed in this comply with standards listed in an
appendix to the guidelines.
Regulation 2 requires that bulk carriers and oil tankers
shall be subject to the enhanced programme of inspection
in accordance with the guidelines adopted in 1993 by
Assembly resolution A.744(18).
The enhanced surveys should be carried out during the
periodical, intermediate and annual surveys prescribed by
the SOLAS Convention.
The guidelines on the enhanced programme of inspections
were developed by IMO as a result of a high number of
casualties in recent years and of increasing concern
about the ageing of the world merchant shipping fleet.
This is particularly true of tankers and bulk carriers,
the majority of which are now between 15 and 20 years of
age. An accident to a tanker can have disastrous
environmental consequences while an accident to a bulk
cargo carrier can result in the ship suddenly sinking or
breaking apart: in recent years there have been many
cases of bulk carriers sinking so suddenly that there was
no time for a distress message to be sent out or the crew
to be safely evacuated.
The guidelines pay special attention to corrosion.
Coatings and tank corrosion prevention systems must be
thoroughly checked and measurements must also be carried
out to check the thickness of plates. These measurements
become more extensive as the ship ages. The guidelines go
into considerable detail to explain the extra checks that
should be carried out during enhanced surveys. One
section deals with preparations for surveys and another
with the documentation which should be kept on board each
ship and be readily available to surveyors. This should
record full reports of all surveys carried out on the
Annexes to the guidelines go into still more detail and
are intended to assist implementation. They specify the
structural members that should be examined, for example,
in areas of extensive corrosion; outline procedures for
certification of companies engaged in thickness
measurement of hull structures; recommend procedures for
thickness measurements and close-up surveys; and give
guidance on preparing the documentation required.
Regulation 3 provides that all passenger ships of 100
gross tonnage and above and all cargo ships of 300 gross
tonnage and above shall be provided with an
identification number conforming to the IMO ship
identification number scheme, as adopted by resolution
A.600(15) in 1987.
Regulation 4 makes it possible for port State control
officers inspecting foreign ships to check operational
requirements "when there are clear grounds for
believing that the master or crew are not familiar with
essential shipboard procedures relating to the safety of
Reference is made to the procedures contained in the
annex to resolution A.742(18), which was adopted by the
IMO Assembly in November 1993. The resolution refers to a
number of earlier resolutions dealing with control
procedures, management responsibilities and principles of
safe manning but notes that none of these explicitly
deals with the influence of the human element on maritime
safety or pollution prevention.
It acknowledges the need for port States to be able to
monitor not only the way in which foreign ships comply
with IMO standards but also to be able to assess
"the ability of ships' crews in respect of
operational requirements relevant to their duties,
especially with regard to passenger ships and ships which
may present a special hazard".
The resolution agrees that,
where there are clear grounds for believing that a ship's
officers and crew are not familiar with essential
shipboard procedures, then port State control should be
extended to include operational requirements.
The "clear grounds" referred to are defined in
the annex to the resolution. They include such factors as
operational shortcomings, cargo operations not being
conducted properly, the involvement of the ship in
incidents caused by operational mistakes, absence of an
up-to-date muster list and indications that crew members
may not be able to communicate with each other.
The procedures refer to control procedures in three IMO
Conventions. They are regulation 19 of Chapter I of
SOLAS; articles 5 and 6 of the International Convention
for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as
modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto (MARPOL
73/78) and article X of the International Convention on
Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for
Seafarers (STCW), 1978.
The procedures say that accidents involving passenger
ships and ships carrying harmful substances have
highlighted the need for good operational standards.
These are primarily the responsibility of flag States
but, the introduction to the procedures, observes:
"It may be difficult for some Administrations to
exercise full and continuous control of ships entitled to
fly their flag under certain circumstances, such as the
cargo the ship carries and the familiarity of the crew
with the ship, which can change completely between two
successive flag State inspections and the fact that some
ships do not regularly call at flag States' national
Port State control inspections are normally limited to
checking certificates and documents. The introduction
says that if certificates are not valid or if there are
clear grounds for believing that the condition of the
ship or of its equipment, or its crew, does not
substantially meet the requirements of a relevant
instrument, a more detailed inspection may be carried
The annex then goes on to give guidelines on how to carry
out control of operational requirements under the three
conventions. It is not intended that all operational
procedures would be checked during one single inspection.
The operations and procedures selected for special
attention include ascertaining that crew members are
aware of their duties as indicated in the muster list;
communications; fire and abandon ship drills; familiarity
with the ship's damage control and fire control plans;
bridge, cargo and machinery operations; and ability to
understand manuals and other instructions. The guidelines
then cover operational requirements relating to
Detailed guidance on how these factors should be assessed
is given in an appendix.
The new Chapter XI was adopted after considerable
discussion and a resolution adopted by the conference
states that it is "undesirable, due to its special
nature, that the provisions of the chapter be frequently
The May 1994 amendments: the
The amendments entered into force on 1 January 1996 and
include the following:
Chapter II-2: improvements have been made to regulation
15, which deals with fire protection arrangements for
fuel oil, lubrication oil and other flammable oils.
Chapter V: a new regulation 8-1 has been added making it
possible to introduce mandatory ship reporting systems.
The first paragraph of the regulation states that a ship
reporting system shall be used by all ships or certain
classes of ships or ships carrying certain cargoes in
accordance with the provisions of each system when
adopted and implemented in accordance with the guidelines
and criteria developed by IMO.
The regulation says that the initiation of action for the
establishment of a ship reporting system is the
responsibility of the Government or Governments
concerned. It was agreed that any system established
shall be capable of interaction and be able to provide
ships with information when necessary.
General principles for ship
reporting systems were adopted by IMO in 1989. The
systems are used to provide, gather or exchange
information through radio reports. The information is
used for search and rescue operations, VTS, weather
forecasting and the prevention of marine pollution.
By making IMO-adopted ship reporting systems mandatory,
the SOLAS amendments make it obligatory for ships
entering or using a system to give their position,
identity and other information. This will enable their
journey through the system to be tracked.
All ship reporting systems must comply with international
law, including the provisions of the United Nations
Convention on the Law of the Sea and participation shall
be free of charge to the ships concerned.
Two other changes have been made to Chapter V.
A new regulation 15-1 requires all tankers of 20,000 dwt
and above after 1 January 1996 to be fitted with an
emergency towing arrangement fitted at both ends of the
ship. Existing tankers must be fitted with a similar
arrangement at the first scheduled dry-docking after 1
January 1996 but not later than 1 January 1999.
A new regulation 22 has been added to improve bridge
navigation visibility. It will apply to ships of not less
than 45 metres in length constructed on or after 1 July
The IGC Code: the International Code for the Construction
and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk
(IGC Code) and the Code for the Construction and
Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gas (Gas Carrier
Code) were both amended. The changes deal with the
filling limits for cargo tanks. The IGC Code is mandatory
under SOLAS and applies to ships built after 1 July 1986.
The Gas Carrier Code is recommended and applies to ships
built before that date.
The December 1994 amendments
The amendments, which are expected to enter into force on
1 July 1996, affect a number of regulations in Chapters
VI and VII and are intended to assist the implementation
of the Code of Safe Practice for Cargo Stowage and
The May 1995 amendments
The amendments replace regulation 8 of Chapter V with a
new text. It recognizes IMO as the only Organization
responsible for developing criteria for ship routeing
systems and defines how this should be prepared and
submitted. The amendment is expected to enter into force
on 1 January 1997.
The November 1995 amendments
Major changes to international rules designed to improve
the safety of roll on/roll off passenger ships were
adopted by a conference held to consider proposals put
forward by a Panel of Experts set up by IMO in December
1994 following the Estonia disaster of September 1994 in
which more than 900 people were killed.
The amendments are expected to enter into force under
tacit acceptance on 1 July 1997.
The most important changes were concerned with the
stability of ro-ro passenger ships. The Estonia, like the
Herald of Free Enterprise in 1987, sank because so much
water built up on the deck that stability was impaired
and the ship capsized.
The Conference agreed to significantly up-grade the
damage stability requirements to be applied to all
existing ro-ro passenger ships without incorporating the
A new regulation 8-1 of Chapter II-1 will mean that
existing ro-ro passenger ships
will have to fully comply with the SOLAS 90 standard that
was adopted for new ships in 1988. Ships that only meet
85% of the standard will have to comply fully by 1
October 1998 and those meeting 97.5% or above by 1
A new regulation 8-2 was also adopted which requires that
ro-ro pasenger ships carrying 400 persons or more shall
be designed to survive with two compartments flooded
following damage. This regulation is also intended to
phase out ships built to a one-compartment standard of
subdivision which carry 400 persons or more.
The Panel of Experts proposed
that SOLAS be changed so that the SOLAS 90 standard can
be met with an amount of water on the vehicle deck. This
was not supported by sufficient number of countries and
instead the conference adopted a resolution which permits
regional arrangements to be agreed by contracting
Governments on specific stability requirements for ro-ro
These requirements include provisions that are designed
to ensure that the SOLAS 90 stability standard can be
achieved even with up to 50 cm of water on the vehicle
The conference also adopted amendments to several other
chapters in the SOLAS Convention.
The changes to Chapter III, which deals with life-saving
appliances and arrangements, include the addition of a
new section requiring ro-ro passenger ships to be fitted
with public address systems, a new regulation providing
improved requirements for life-saving appliances and
arrangements and a requirement for all passenger ships to
have full information on the details of passengers on
board and requirements for the provision of a helicopter
pick-up or landing area.
Other amendments have been proposed to Chapter IV
(radiocommunications); Chapter V (safety of navigation),
including a requirement that all ro-ro passenger ships
should have an established working language, and Chapter
VI (carriage of cargoes).
The June 1996
Adoption: 4 June 1996
Entry into force: 1 July 1998
A completely revised Chapter III on life-saving
appliances and arrangements was adopted. The amendments
take into account changes in technology since the Chapter
was last re-written in 1983.
Many of the technical requirements were transferred to a
new International Life-Saving Appliance (LSA) Code,
applicable to all ships built on or after 1 July 1998.
Some of the amendments apply to existing ships as well as
Other SOLAS Chapters were also amended.
In Chapter II-1, a new part A-1 dealing with the
structure of ships was added. Regulation 3-1 requires
ships to be designed, constructed and maintained in
compliance with structural requirements of a recognized
classification society or with applicable requirements by
the Administration. Regulation 3-2 deals with corrosion
prevention of seawater ballast tanks and other amendments
to Chapter II-1 concern the stability of passenger and
cargo ships in the damaged condition.
In Chapter VI, Regulation 7 was replaced by a new text
dealing with the loading, unloading and stowage of bulk
cargoes. It is intended to ensure that no excessive
stress is placed on the ship's structure during such
operations. The ship must be provided with a booklet
giving advice on cargo handling operations and the master
and terminal representative must agree on a plan to
ensure that loading and unloading is carried out safely.
In Chapter XI, an amendment was made regarding
authorization of recognized organizations.
The International Bulk Chemicals (IBC) and Bulk Chemicals
(BCH) Codes were also amended. The IBC Code is mandatory
under SOLAS and applies to ships carrying dangerous
chemicals in bulk that were built after 1 July 1986. The
BCH is recommended and applies to ships built before that
The December 1996 amendments
Adoption: 6 December 1996
Entry into force: 1 July 1998
Chapter II-2 was considerably modified, with changes to
the general introduction, Part B (fire safety measures
for passenger ships), Part C (fire safety measures for
cargo ships) and Part D (fire safety measures for
tankers). The changes made mandatory a new International
Code for Application of Fire Test Procedures intended to
be used by Administrations when approving products for
installation in ships flying their flag.
Amendments to Chapter II-1 included a requirement for
ships to be fitted with a system to ensure that the
equipment necessary for propulsion and steering are
maintained or immediately restored in the case of loss of
any one of the generators in service.
An amendment to Chapter V aims to ensure that the crew
can gain safe access to the ship's bow, even in severe
weather conditions. Amendments were also made to two
regulations in Chapter VII relating to carriage of
dangerous goods and the IBC Code was also amended.
The June 1997
Adoption: 4 June 1997
Entry into force: 1 July 1999 (Under tacit
The amendments included a new Regulation 8.2 on Vessel
Traffic Services (VTS) in Chapter V. VTS are traffic
management systems, for example those used in busy
straits. This Regulation sets out when VTS can be
implemented. It says Vessel Traffic Services should be
designed to contribute to the safety of life at sea,
safety and efficiency of navigation and the protection of
the marine environment, adjacent shore areas, worksites
and offshore installations from possible adverse effects
of maritime traffic.
Governments may establish VTS when, in their opinion, the
volume of traffic or the degree of risk justifies such
services. But no VTS should prejudice the "rights
and duties of governments under international law"
and a VTS may only be made mandatory in sea areas within
a State's territorial waters.
In Chapter II-1, a new regulation 8.3 on "Special
requirements for passenger ships, other than ro-ro
passenger ships, carrying 400 persons or more"
effectively makes these ships comply with the special
requirements for ro-ro passenger ships in Regulation 8.2
which were adopted in November 1995. The special
requirements are aimed at ensuring the ships can survive
without capsizing with two main compartments flooded
The November 1997 amendments (Conference)
Adoption: 27 November 1997
Entry into force: 1 July 1999
The Conference adopted a Protocol adding a new Chapter
XII to the Convention entitled Additional Safety Measures
for Bulk Carriers.
The regulations state that all new bulk carriers 150
metres or more in length (built after 1 July 1999)
carrying cargoes with a density of 1,000 kg/m3 and above
should have sufficient strength to withstand flooding of
any one cargo hold, taking into account dynamic effects
resulting from presence of water in the hold and taking
into account the recommendations adopted by IMO.
For existing ships (built before 1 July 1999) carrying
bulk cargoes with a density of 1,780 kg/m3 and above, the
transverse watertight bulkhead between the two foremost
cargo holds and the double bottom of the foremost cargo
hold should have sufficient strength to withstand
flooding and the related dynamic effects in the foremost
Cargoes with a density of 1,780 kg/m3 and above (heavy
cargoes) include iron ore, pig iron, steel, bauxite and
cement. Lighter cargoes, but with a density of more than
1,000 kg/m3, include grains such as wheat and rice, and
The amendments take into account a study into bulk
carrier survivability carried out by the International
Association of Classification Societies (IACS) at the
request of IMO. IACS found that if a ship is flooded in
the forward hold, the bulkhead between the two foremost
holds may not be able to withstand the pressure that
results from the sloshing mixture of cargo and water,
especially if the ship is loaded in alternate holds with
high density cargoes (such as iron ore). If the bulkhead
between one hold and the next collapses, progressive
flooding could rapidly occur throughout the length of the
ship and the vessel would sink in a matter of minutes.
IACS concluded that the most vulnerable areas are the
bulkhead between numbers one and two holds at the forward
end of the vessel and the double bottom of the ship at
this location. During special surveys of ships,
particular attention should be paid to these areas and,
where necessary, reinforcements should be carried out.
The criteria and formulae used to assess whether a ship
currently meets the new requirements, for example in
terms of the thickness of the steel used for bulkhead
structures, or whether reinforcement is necessary, are
laid out in IMO standards adopted by the 1997 Conference.
Under Chapter XII, surveyors can take into account
restrictions on the cargo carried in considering the need
for, and the extent of, strengthening of the transverse
watertight bulkhead or double bottom. When restrictions
on cargoes are imposed, the bulk carrier should be
permanently marked with a solid triangle on its side
shell. The date of application of the new Chapter to
existing bulk carriers depends on their age. Bulk
carriers which are 20 years old and over on 1 July 1999
have to comply by the date of the first intermediate or
periodic survey after that date, whichever is sooner.
Bulk carriers aged 15-20 years must comply by the first
periodical survey after 1 July 1999, but not later than 1
July 2002. Bulk carriers less than 15 years old must
comply by the date of the first periodical survey after
the ship reaches 15 years of age, but not later than the
date on which the ship reaches 17 years of age.
The May 1998 amendments
Adoption: 18 May 1998
Entry into force: 1 July 2002 (Under tacit
Amendments were made to regulation 14 on Construction and
initial testing of watertight bulkheads, etc., in
passenger ships and cargo ships in Chapter II-1.
Paragraph 3 is replaced to allow visual examination of
welded connections, where filling with water or a hose
test are not practicable.
In Chapter IV, the amendments included:
a new regulation 5-1 requiring Contracting Governments to
ensure suitable arrangements are in place for registering
Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS)
identities (including ship's call sign, Inmarsat
identities) and making the information available 24 hours
a day to Rescue Co-ordination Centres;
a new paragraph 9 to regulation 15 Maintenance
requirements covering testing intervals for satellite
emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs);
a new regulation 18 on Position updating requiring
automatic provision of information regarding the ship's
position where two-way communication equipment is capable
of providing automatically the ship's position in the
Amendments in Chapter VI to paragraph 6 of regulation 5
Stowage and securing make it clear that "all
cargoes, other than solid and liquid bulk cargoes"
should be loaded, stowed and secured in accordance with
the Cargo Securing Manual. A similar amendment was
adopted for Regulation 6 of Chapter VII, also covering
Stowage and securing.
The May 1999 amendments
Adoption: 27 May 1999
Entry into force: 1 January 2001 (Under tacit
Amendments to Chapter VII make the International Code for
the Safe Carriage of Packaged Irradiated Nuclear Fuel,
Plutonium and High-Level Radioactive Wastes on Board
Ships (INF Code) mandatory.
The INF Code sets out how the material covered by the
Code should be carried, including specifications for
ships. The material covered by the code includes:
- Irradiated nuclear fuel - material containing
uranium, thorium and/or plutonium isotopes which has been
used to maintain a self-sustaining nuclear chain
- Plutonium - the resultant mixture of isotopes of
that material extracted from irradiated nuclear fuel from
- High-level radioactive wastes - liquid wastes
resulting from the operation of the first stage
extraction system or the concentrated wastes from
subsequent extraction stages, in a facility for
reprocessing irradiated fuel, or solids into which such
liquid wastes have been converted.
The INF Code applies to all ships regardless of the date
of construction and size, including cargo ships of less
than 500 gross tonnage, engaged in the carriage of INF
cargo. The INF Code does not apply to warships, naval
auxiliary or other ships used only on government
non-commercial service, although Administrations are
expected to ensure such ships are in compliance with the
Specific regulations in the Code cover a number of
issues, including: damage stability, fire protection,
temperature control of cargo spaces, structural
consideration, cargo securing arrangements, electrical
supplies, radiological protection equipment and
management, training and shipboard emergency plans.
Ships carrying INF cargo are assigned to one of three
classes, depending on the total radioactivity of INF
cargo which is carried on board, and regulations vary
slightly according to the Class:
Class INF 1 ship - Ships which are certified to
carry INF cargo with an aggregate activity less than
4,000 TBq (TeraBecquerel - measurement of radioactivity).
Class INF 2 ship - Ships which are certified to
carry irradiated nuclear fuel or high-level radioactive
wastes with an aggregate activity less than 2 x 106 TBq
and ships which are certified to carry plutonium with an
aggregate activity less than 2 x 105 TBq.
Class INF 3 ship - Ships which are certified to
carry irradiated nuclear fuel or high-level radioactive
wastes and ships which are certified to carry plutonium
with no restriction of the maximum aggregate activity of
The INF Code was first adopted as a recommendatory Code
by the eighteenth session of the Assembly on 4 November
1993 (resolution A.748(18)). The twentieth session of the
Assembly adopted amendments to the INF Code to include
specific requirements for shipboard emergency plans and
notification in the event of an incident (resolution
A.853(20), adopted on 27 November 1997).
The Maritime Safety Committee also adopted a redrafted
text of the INF Code incorporating amendments reflecting
its mandatory nature.
The May 2000 amendment
Adoption: 26 May 2000
Entry into force: 1 January 2002 (Under tacit
SOLAS Chapter III, regulation 28.2 for helicopter landing
areas is amended to require a helicopter landing area only
for ro-ro passenger ships. Regulation 28.1 of SOLAS
Chapter III requires all ro-ro passenger ships to be
provided with a helicopter pick-up area and existing
ro-ro passenger ships were required to comply with this
regulation not later than the first periodical survey
after 1 July 1997.
The requirement for a helicopter landing area for all
passenger ships of 130 metres in length and upwards was
deferred to 1 July 1999 but it was decided to amend the
regulation to make this requirement applicable to ro-ro
passenger ships only.
The December 2000 amendments
Adoption: 6 December 2000
Entry into force: 1 July 2002 (Under tacit
A number of amendments were adopted.
A revised SOLAS chapter V (Safety of Navigation)
brings in a new mandatory requirement for voyage data
recorders voyage data recorders (VDRs) to assist in
accident investigations. Regulation 20 requires the
following ships to fit VDRs:
- passenger ships constructed on or after 1 July 2002;
- ro-ro passenger ships constructed before 1 July 2002
not later than the first survey on or after 1 July 2002
- passenger ships other than ro-ro passenger ships
constructed before 1 July 2002 not later than 1 January
- ships, other than passenger ships, of 3,000 gross
tonnage and upwards constructed on or after 1 July 2002.
The new chapter also
requires automatic identification systems (AIS), capable
of providing information about the ship to other ships
and to coastal authorities automatically, to be fitted
aboard all ships of 300 gross tonnage and upwards engaged
on international voyages, cargo ships of 500 gross
tonnage and upwards not engaged on international voyages
and passenger ships irrespective of size built on or
after 1 July 2002.
It also applies to ships engaged on international voyages
constructed before 1 July 2002, according to the
- passenger ships, not later than 1 July 2003;
- tankers, not later than the first survey for safety
equipment on or after 1 July 2003;
- ships, other than passenger ships and tankers, of
50,000 gross tonnage and upwards, not later than 1 July
2004; ships, other than passenger ships and tankers, of
10,000 gross tonnage and upwards but less than 50,000
gross tonnage, not later than 1 July 2005;
- ships, other than passenger ships and tankers, of 3,000
gross tonnage and upwards but less than 10,000 gross
tonnage, not later than 1 July 2006.
- ships, other than passenger ships and tankers, of 300
gross tonnage and upwards but less than 3,000 gross
tonnage, not later than 1 July 2007.
Amendments to SOLAS chapter X (Safety measures for
high-speed craft) make mandatory for new ships the
High-Speed Craft Code 2000. The 2000 HSC Code updates the
mandatory High-Speed Craft Code adopted in 1994. The 2000
HSC will apply to all HSC built after the date of entry
into force, 1 July 2002. The original HSC Code was
adopted by IMO in May 1994, but the rapid pace of
development in this sector of shipping has meant an early
revision of the Code. The original Code will continue to
apply to existing high-speed craft. The changes
incorporated in the new Code are intended to bring it
into line with amendments to SOLAS and new
recommendations that have been adopted in the past four
years - for example, requirements covering public address
systems and helicopter pick-up areas
A revised SOLAS chapter II-2 (Construction, - Fire
protection, fire detection and fire extinction) as
well as a new International Code for Fire Safety
Systems (FSS Code) were adopted. The revised chapter
is intended to be clear, concise and user-friendly,
incorporating the substantial changes introduced in
recent years following a number of serious fire
casualties. The revised chapter includes seven parts,
each including requirements applicable to all or
specified ship types, while the Fire Safety Systems (FSS)
Code, which is made mandatory under the new chapter,
includes detailed specifications for fire safety systems
in 15 Chapters.
A new regulation in SOLAS Chapter II-1 (Construction -
Structure, subdivision and stability, machinery and
electrical installations) prohibits the new
installation of materials which contain asbestos on all
ships. The new regulation 3-5 is included in SOLAS
Chapter II-1 (Construction - Structure, Subdivision and
stability, machinery and electrical installations.
Amendments to the 1988 SOLAS Protocol include
amendments to reflect the changes to SOLAS chapter V,
such as the details of navigational systems and equipment
referred to in the records of equipment attached to
Amendments to the International Code for the
Application of Fire Test Procedures (FTP Code) add
new parts 10 and 11 to annex 1 on Test for
fire-restricting material for high-speed craft and test
for fire-resisting divisions of high-speed craft.
Amendments to the International Code for the Construction
and Equipment of Ships carrying Dangerous Chemicals in
Bulk (IBC Code) and the Code for the Construction
and Equipment of Ships carrying Dangerous Chemicals in
Bulk (BCH Code) relate to cargo hose requirements,
protection of personnel and carriage of carbon
disulphide. Entry into force 1 July 2002 under tacit
Amendments to the International Safety Management Code (ISM
Code) include the replacement of Chapter 13
Certification, verification and control with chapters 13
Certification; and adding of chapters 14 Interim
Certification; 15 Forms of Certificate; and 16
Verification; as well as a new appendix giving forms of
documents and certificates.
Amendments to the Code for the Construction and equipment
of ships carrying dangerous chemicals in bulk (BCH
Code) relate to ship's cargo hoses, tank vent
systems, safety equipment, operational requirements; and
amendments to the Code for the construction and equipment
of ships carrying liquefied gases in bulk (GC Code)
relate to ship's cargo hoses, personnel protection and
The future of SOLAS
SOLAS will continue to evolve in the future as it has in
The adoption by the conference of the November 1995
amendments represents only the start of a programme of
change relating to ro-ro passenger ship safety that is
expected to take several years to complete.
Nevertheless, it is likely that the rate of amendment
will slow down in the next few years. While it is
important to keep instruments such as SOLAS up to date,
many countries have experienced difficulty in coping with
the changes that have been made in recent years.
In May 1991, therefore, the MSC agreed that future
amendments would only enter into force once every four
years. The normal date of entry into force (under tacit
acceptance) would be on 1 July. The amendments now being
developed are expected to enter into force on 1 July
1998. Although the four-year rule will be the norm, the
Committee agreed that IMO would be able to adopt
amendments at shorter intervals in exceptional
Information courtesy of the IMO updated 2002