SOLAS (Safety Of Lives At Sea) – general agreement
The first SOLAS agreement was made already in 1929 in the aftermath of the sinking of the Titanic. As a rule, the SOLAS regulation is futher developed after large accidents. Accidents that have led to changes in the SOLAS agreement lately have been among others the m/s Scandinavian Star fire and the sinking of m/s Estonia. Furthermore the breaking of the oil tankers m/s Erika and m/t Prestige have had an impact on the development of safety legislation. SOLAS general agreement was renewed in 1948, 1960 and 1974. The protocol of the 1974 SOLAS agreement that is currently followed is from 1988.
ISM, ISPS and GMDSS requirements are part of the SOLAS agreement and they are continuously developed. IMO:s Maritime Security Committee (MSC) is responsible for making changes to the general agreement, and The Finnish Shipowners’ Association partakes in the committee as part of the Finnish delegation.
ISM (International Safety Management – code)
The ISM code was accepted in the IMO in 1993/94 and it applies to all trade ships over 500 GT in international traffic. In Finland the ISM based security management system has been obligatory on all Roro and Ropax ships since 1996 and since 1998 on all ships. In Finland the surveillance of ISM is conducted by the Finnish transport safety agency Trafi on passenger ships and also by international rating agencies for cargo ships.
ISPS (International Ship and Port Facility Security – code)
The ISPS-code came to force worldwide in 2004 and its purpose is to safeguard the security of ports and ships and to prevent the possibility of terrorist attacks. The ISPS code was developed after the events of the 9/11 attacks in New York in 2001 and in Finland it is under the surveillance of the Finnish transport safety agency Trafi.
Port State Control
Port State Control is an international regime for inspection of ships. The inspections are aimed at ships of poor condition according to rules that are mutually agreed upon. The Paris Memorandum of Understanding ”Paris MoU” is applied in the European area that consists of 27 European countries and Canada. Similar regimes are in place all over the world and the inspections are maid according to them.
The responsibility of abiding national and international regulations is on the seafarers themselves. However, there are many ships of poor quality that can be hazarduous to the safety of the crew and the environment. The access of these ships into the ports of the EU is being stopped by European legislation that port states have to follow. The port state directive obliges states to make inspections on the ships that visit their ports.
Cargo safety and cargo fixing
As ships usually transport cargo, the cargo safety is a major aspect of safety at sea. Cargo may consist of solid bulk, such as grain, oil or piece goods loaded in a container. Ships also transport different types of deck cargo, such as timber, containers, machines and other equipment that may be challenging from a cargo safety point of view. Ships can also transport hazardous and harmful substances which are regulated by several different laws and regulations.
Fastening the cargo for the duration of the transport is an essential part of cargo safety and because there are so many different types of cargo, fastening cargo the right way may be challenging. The Finnish Shipowners’ Association is active in various forums to enforce and develop cargo fastening practices in ships and other forms of transport that end up as cargo on ships.
Dangerous substances are for example oil product, chemicals, gases and various types of packaged hazardous substances. The transport of these substances is regulated in different international agreements and laws such as the IMO:s SOLAS and MARPOL general agreements and furthermore in EU directives.
Olof Widén is Senior Advisor. His responsibilities include: environmental issues, ship safety and qualification issues.
+358 400 723 355