Various bodies are responsible for regulating the global marine industry, including most obviously the International Maritime Organization (IMO), but also the European Union and national governments. As the GOV.UK site explains, agreements, resolutions and conventions are also made by other UN agencies such as the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Safety is an especially pressing issue for these bodies, with the following being some of the most basic safety regulations that sadly sometimes aren’t complied with by shipping fleets.
International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)
There have been various forms of the SOLAS Convention, with the first having been adopted in 1914 in response to the Titanic disaster, according to the IMO. Many other versions have been issued in the century since, and it is widely regarded as the most important of all global treaties concerning merchant ship safety.
The SOLAS Convention’s chief purpose is to specify minimum construction, equipment and operation standards for ships to help ensure their safety. Its most basic provisions include, for example, that 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 and stable.
Different safety regulations apply to different vessels
Whatever the type of ship used in a fleet, certain safety regulations apply. Bulk carriers, for example, are intended to transport large quantities of non-packed commodities like iron ore, grains and coal across the world. It should therefore be unsurprising that many of the regulations relating to this type of ship are concerned with ensuring that cargo is loaded carefully and cannot shift during a voyage, as well as that large hatch covers are watertight and secure.
The roll-on/roll-off ship – or ferry – is another type of vessel that must comply with certain specific safety standards, as enshrined in a series of SOLAS amendments in response to such disturbing accidents as the capsizing of MS Herald of Free Enterprise and the sinking of MS Estonia in 1994. These regulations place a particular emphasis on ensuring that such incidents do not re-occur.
The most recent SOLAS Convention also includes special requirements for tankers, with fire safety provisions, for example, being much stricter for this category of vessel than for ordinary cargo ships, given the elevated risk of fire on board ships carrying oil and refined products. For instance, all new tankers and most existing tankers of 20,000 deadweight tonnage (DWT) are required to have an inert gas system, in recognition that even tankers containing no oil are filled with flammable gas that can explode if proper procedures are not followed.
As one might expect, passenger ships are also subject to their own wide-ranging regulation encompassing every aspect of ship construction and operation. Various incidents over the years have led to the further tightening of safety requirements, with much emphasis on the need for suitable fire protection systems, life-saving appliances and escape routes.
Never neglect your safety obligations for your own fleet
We’re proud to be playing a leading role in the continued development of the highest levels of maritime safety here at Martek Marine, including through our supply of the most innovative and trusted crew welfare and gas detection products. Why not shop online today with Martek Marine to ensure that you are in full compliance with the both specific and general safety regulations that apply to your fleet?
If you would like to discuss how we can help you with information on basic safety, please give a member of our team a call or send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org.