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Legislative Requirements




The International Safety Management Code


“International Safety Management (ISM) Code” means the International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention as adopted and as may be amended by the IMO. 

“Company” means the Owner of the ship or any other organization or person such as the Manager, or the Bareboat Charterer, who has assumed the responsibility for operation of the ship from the Shipowner and who on assuming such responsibility has agreed to take over all the duties and responsibility imposed by the Code. 

“Administration” means the Government of the State whose flag the ship is entitled to fly. 


The objectives of the Code are to ensure safety at sea, prevention of human injury or loss of life, and avoidance of damage to the environment, in particular, to the marine environment, and to property. 

Safety management objectives of the Company should: 
 1. Provide for safe practices in ship operation and a safe working environment;

2. Establish safeguards against all identified risks; and

3. Continuously improve safety management skills of personnel ashore and aboard ships, including preparing for emergencies related both to safety and environmental protection.

 The safety and management system should ensure: 
 Compliance with mandatory rules and regulations; and that applicable codes, guidelines and standards recommended by the Organization, Administrations, classification societies and maritime industry organizations are taken into account. 


The requirements of this Code may be applied to all ships.

Functional requirements for a Safety Management System (SMS) 

Every Company should develop, implement and maintain a Safety Management System (SMS), which includes the following functional requirements: 
 A safety and environmental protection policy; 
 Instructions and procedures to ensure safe operation of ships and protection of the environment in compliance with relevant international and flag State legislation; 
 Defined levels of authority and lines of communication between, and amongst, shore and shipboard personnel; 
 Procedures for reporting accidents and non-conformities with the provisions of this Code; 
 Procedures to prepare for and respond to emergency situations; and procedures for internal audits and management reviews. 

Safety And Environmental Protection Policy
 The Company should establish a safety and environmental protection policy, which describes how the objectives, will be achieved. 

The Company should ensure that the policy is implemented and maintained at all levels of the organization both ship based as well as shore based. 

Company Responsibilities And Authority
 If the entity who is responsible for the operation of the ship is other than the owner, the owner must report the full name and details of such entity to the Administration. 

The Company should define and document the responsibility, authority and interrelation of all personnel who manage, perform and verify work relating to and affecting safety and pollution prevention. 

The Company is responsible for ensuring that adequate resources and shore based support are provided to enable the designated person or persons to carry out their functions. 
 Designated Person (S)

To ensure the safe operation of each ship and to provide a link between the company and those on board, every company, as appropriate, should designate a person or persons ashore having direct access to the highest level of management. The responsibility and authority of the designated person or persons should include monitoring the safety and pollution prevention aspects of the operation of each ship and to ensure that adequate resources and shore based support are applied, as required. 

Master’s Responsibility And Authority
 The Company should clearly define and document the master’s responsibility with regard to:
1. Implementing the safety and environmental protection policy of the Company;

2. Motivating the crew in the observation of that policy; 

3. Issuing appropriate orders and instructions in a clear and simple manner; 

4. Verifying that specified requirements are observed; and

5. Reviewing the SMS and reporting its deficiencies to the shore based management. 

The Company should ensure that the SMS operating on board the ship contains a clear statement emphasizing the Master’s authority. The Company should establish in the SMS that the master has the overriding authority and the responsibility to make decisions with respect to safety and pollution prevention and to request the Company’s assistance as may be necessary.

The purpose of this Code is to provide an international standard for the safe management and operation of ships and for pollution prevention. 

The need for appropriate organization of management to enable it to respond to the need of those on board ships to achieve and maintain high standards of safety and environmental protection. 

Recognizing that no two shipping companies or shipowners are the same, and that ships operate under a wide range of different conditions, the Code is based on general principles and objectives.

The Code is expressed in broad terms so that it can have a widespread application. Clearly, different levels of management, whether shore-based or at sea, will require varying levels of knowledge and awareness of the items outlined.

The cornerstone of good safety management is commitment from the top. In matters of safety and pollution prevention it is the commitment, competence, attitudes and motivation of individuals at all levels that determines the end result.


This chapter applies to ships, regardless of the date of construction, as follows:

Passenger ships including passenger high-speed craft, not later than 1 July 1998;

Oil tankers, chemical tankers, gas carriers, bulk carriers and cargo high-speed craft of 500 gross tonnage and upwards, not later than 1 July 1998; and

Other cargo ships of 500 gross tonnage and upwards, not later than 1 July 2002.

This does not apply to government-operated ships used for non-commercial purposes.


A Document of Compliance shall be issued to every company, which complies with the requirements of the International Safety Management Code. This document shall be issued by the Administration, by an organization recognized by the Administration, or at the request of the Administration by another Contracting Government.

A copy of the Document of Compliance shall be kept on board the ship in order that the master can produce it on request for verification.

A Certificate, called a Safety Management Certificate, shall be issued to every ship by the Administration or an organization recognized by the Administration. The Administration or organization recognized by it shall, before issuing the Safety Management Certificate, verify that the company and its shipboard management operate in accordance with the approved safety-management system.

The details of the ship’s system may be found in the ship’s Safety Management Manual