Category Archives: SOLAS

The Maritime Conventions

dscf3338SOLAS, MARPOL and beyond

A Handy Revision Guide to the Conventions

Throughout this series of posts on Ship Certification various International Conventions have often been referred to. Therefore this is good time to create a summary of the the Key conventions.  To keep things simple, I have ordered and categorised them in the same manner as the certification posts.

The IMO conventions

The majority of the conventions, but not all, are produced by the IMO.

Identifying the ship


United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)     

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982

“The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea lays down a comprehensive regime of law and order in the world’s oceans and seas establishing rules governing all uses of the oceans and their resources. It enshrines the notion that all problems of ocean space are closely interrelated and need to be addressed as a whole.”

The issues covered by the Convention include:

  • Territorial seas
  • Innocent passage
  • Transit passage through straits
  • Exclusive economic zones  (EEZ)
  • Continental shelf exploitation
  • Freedoms of the high sea
  • Marine pollution responsibilities
  • Disputes

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea is an independent judicial body established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to adjudicate disputes arising out of the interpretation and application of the Convention.

Defining the shipwpid-wp-1437630402998.jpeg

International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships, 1969 (Tonnage Convention)

This Convention introduced an universal tonnage measurement system. The Convention provides for gross and net tonnages, both of which are calculated independently.

Gross tonnage and net tonnage

The Convention meant a transition from the traditionally used terms gross register tons (grt) and net register tons (nrt) to gross tonnage(GT) and net tonnage (NT).

Some definitions from the Convention

“(4) “gross tonnage” means the measure of the overall size of a ship determined in accordance with the provisions of the present Convention;

(5) “net tonnage” means the measure of the useful capacity of a ship determined in accordance with the provisions of the present Convention;”

International Convention on Load Lines, 1966, as Loadlinesmodified by the 1988 Protocol relating thereto, as amended (Load Lines Convention)

“It has long been recognized that limitations on the draught to which a ship may be loaded make a significant contribution to her safety. These limits are given in the form of freeboards, which constitute, besides external weathertight and watertight integrity, the main objective of the Convention.” IMO website

Contents of the convention

Annex I

  • Chapter I – General
  • Chapter II – Conditions of assignment of freeboard
  • Chapter III – Freeboards
  • Chapter IV – Special requirements for ships assigned timber freeboards

Annex II covers Zones, areas and seasonal periods

Annex III contains certificates, including the International Load Line Certificate

Managing the vessel

The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certificationwpid-157765645208.jpg
and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978

International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers entered into force in 1984. The main purpose of the Convention is to promote safety of life and property at sea and the protection of the marine environment by establishing in common agreement international standards of training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers.

The Manila amendments to the STCW Convention and Code were adopted on 25 June 2010, marking a major revision of the STCW Convention and Code.

The STCW regulations are supported by sections by the STCW Code. The Convention contains basic requirements which are then enlarged upon and explained in the Code.

Part A of the Code is mandatory. The minimum standards of competence required for seagoing personnel are given in detail in a series of tables.

Part B of the Code contains recommended guidance which is intended to help implement the Convention.

ILO Maritime Labour Convention, (MLC 2006) – As amended by the 2014DSCF3260 Amendment (MLC)

The Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (“MLC, 2006”) establishes minimum working and living standards for all seafarers working on ships flying the flags of ratifying countries. It is widely known as the “seafarers’ bill of rights,”

The convention is an international labour Convention adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Keeping the ship safe

The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974img_20151119_111728.jpg

“The SOLAS Convention in its successive forms is generally regarded as the most important of all international treaties concerning the safety of merchant ships. The first version was adopted in 1914, in response to the Titanic disaster, the second in 1929, the third in 1948, and the fourth in 1960. The 1974 version includes the tacit acceptance procedure – which provides that an amendment shall enter into force on a specified date unless, before that date, objections to the amendment are received from an agreed number of Parties.” IMO Website

The 1974 Convention has been updated and amended on numerous occasions. The Convention in force today is sometimes referred to as SOLAS, 1974, as amended.

Keeping the seas clean

The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from wpid-10152154002370209.jpgShips, 1973 (MARPOL)

MARPOL is the main international convention covering prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes.

The MARPOL Convention was adopted on 2 November 1973 at IMO.  MARPOL has been updated by amendments over the years.

The convention currently includes six technical Annexes.

International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 (BWM Convention)aquariamcircleedited

The Convention aims to prevent, minimize and ultimately eliminate the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens through the control and management of ships’ ballast water and sediments. It enters into force on 8 September 2017.

Under the Convention, all ships in international traffic are required to manage their ballast water and sediments to a certain standard, according to a ship-specific ballast water management plan. All ships will also have to carry a ballast water record book and an international ballast water management certificate.

International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships, 2001 (AFS Convention)

The Convention prohibits the use of harmful organotins in anti-fouling paints used on ships and establishes a mechanism to prevent the potential future use of other harmful substances in anti-fouling systems.

Annex I of the Convention states that all ships shall not apply or re-apply organotins compounds which act as biocides in anti-fouling systems.

International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, 2001 (Bunkers Convention)

The Convention was adopted to ensure that adequate, prompt, and effective compensation is available to persons who suffer damage caused by spills of oil, when carried as fuel in ships’ bunkers

International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, 1992 (CLC Convention)

The Convention covers those who suffer oil pollution damage resulting from maritime casualties involving oil-carrying ships. The Convention places the liability for such damage on the owner of the ship from which the polluting oil escaped or was discharged.

The Convention applies to seagoing vessels carrying oil in bulk as cargo, but only ships carrying more than 2,000 tons of oil are required to maintain insurance in respect of oil pollution damage.

Other Conventions

Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972 (COLREGs)

The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009caribillemillnarrow

The Hong Kong Convention is aimed at ensuring that ships, when being recycled after reaching the end of their operational lives, do not pose any unnecessary risk to human health and safety or to the environment.

Its regulations cover:

  • The design, construction, operation and preparation of ships so as to facilitate safe and environmentally sound recycling
  • The operation of ship recycling facilities in a safe and environmentally sound manner
  • The establishment of an appropriate enforcement mechanism for ship recycling, incorporating certification and reporting requirements

Ships to be sent for recycling will be required to carry an inventory of hazardous materials, which will be specific to each ship.

International Convention on Salvage

The Convention replaced the 1910 convention on the law of salvage which incorporated the “‘no cure, no pay” principle. The 1989 Convention added a provision for an enhanced salvage award taking into account the skill and efforts of the salvors in preventing or minimizing damage to the environment.

International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR)

The 1979 Convention was aimed at developing an international SAR plan, so that, no matter where an accident occurs, the rescue of persons in distress at sea will be co-ordinated by a SAR organization and, when necessary, by co-operation between neighbouring SAR organizations.

As this series on Certification  draws to a close this post will no doubt be ‘tweaked’ and expanded, and may form the basis of its own page on spawn more pots….maybe. Meanwhile the next certificate is awaiting exploring.

For Information about the Really Handy Range of Revision Books for Mariners, Click here>

 A Really Handy Guide to Ship Certification (part 1) has just been added to the range. More to follow shortly in the series.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Document of Authorization to Carry Grain- A Handy Guide

This blog has already covered two cargo related certificates within earlier sections:

Now it will carry on to explore some certificates specific to certain cargoes, starting with grain.


Carrying grain safely

The requirement for grain specific documentation arises from the safety risk arising from grain’s characteristics.  Grain settles about 2% of volume, a settling which causes small voids to open up near the surface that allow the grain to shift. This free flowing of the can greatly  reduce the stability of the vessel, making grain one of the most dangerous cargoes.

Why must a ship carry a Document of Authourisation to Carry Grain?

It is required by SOLAS  Chapter VI Safety of Cargoes.

Regulation 9 – Requirements for Cargo Ships Carrying Grain

“1 In addition to any other applicable requirements of the present regulations, a cargo ship carrying grain shall comply with the requirements of the International Grain Code, and hold a document of authorization as required by that Code. For the purpose of this regulation, the requirements of the Code shall be treated as mandatory.

2 A ship without such a document shall not load grain until the master satisfies the Administration, or the Contracting Government of the port of loading on behalf of the Administration, that the ship will comply with the requirements of the International Grain Code in its proposed loaded condition.”

What code must a grain carrying ship conform to?

The international code for the safe carriage of grain in bulk, this is normally referred to GrainCodeas ‘The Grain Code’ .

What is grain?

Grain Code 2 Definitions

2.1. The term grain covers wheat, maize (corn), oats, rye, barley, rice, pulses, seeds and processed forms thereof, whose behaviour is similar to that of grain in its natural state

1.1. This Code applies to ships regardless of size, including those of less than 500 tons gross tonnage, engaged in the carriage of grain in bulk, to which part C of chapter VI of the 1974 SOLAS Convention, as amended, applies.

What does the Document of authorization signify

It is evidence that the ship is capable of complying with the requirements of the grain code.

A ship without such a document of authorization shall not load grain until the master demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Administration, or of the Contracting Government of the port of loading acting on behalf of the Administration, that, in its loaded condition for the intended voyage, the ship complies with the requirements of the code.

Where must the document be held?

The document shall accompany or be incorporated into the grain loading manual.

Click here for the IMO Grain Code page>

What is shown on the Document?

  • Name of ship
  • Distinctive number or letters
  • Port of Registry
  • IMO number
  • A statement that the ship is capable of complying with the requirements of the International Grain Code in accordance with the approved grain loading stability information booklet.

When can a ship load without a document of authorization?


  • The total weight of the bulk grain shall not exceed one third of the deadweight of the ship
  • All filled compartments, trimmed, shall be fitted with centreline divisions extending, for the full length of such compartments, downwards from the underside of the deck or hatch covers to a distance below the deck line of at least one eighth of the maximum breadth of the compartment or 2.4 m, whichever is the greater, except that saucers  may be accepted in lieu of a centreline division in and beneath a hatchway except in the case of linseed and other seeds having similar properties;
  • All hatches to filled compartments, trimmed, shall be closed and covers secured in place
  • All free grain surfaces in partly filled cargo space shall be trimmed level and secured
  • Throughout the voyage the metacentric height after correction for the free surface effects of liquids in tanks shall be 0.3 m or that given by a formula given in the grain code
Tagged , , , ,

​SOLAS  Chapter VI-Safety of Cargoes


SOLAS Chapter VI – Carriage of Cargoes and Oil Fuels

Click for SOLAS on Amazon

What does it cover?

Before this blog dives into the realms of grain cargoes certification it will have a quick look at the contents of SOLAS Chapter VI.  A quick look that may be useful in hunting  for cargo related legislation.

Contents of Chapter VI

Part A – General Provisions

  • Regulation 1 – Application
  • Regulating 1-1 – Definitions
  • Regulation 1-2 – Requirements for the Carriage of Solid Bulk Cargoes other than Grain
  • Regulation 2 – Cargo Information
  • Regulation 3 – Oxygen Analysis and Gas Detection Equipment
  • Regulation 4 – The Use of Pesticides in Ships
  • Regulation 5 – Stowage and Securing
  • Regulation 5-1 – Material Safety Data Sheets
  • Regulation 5-2 – Prohibition of the Blending of Bulk Liquid Cargoes and Production Processes during Sea Voyages

Part B – Special Provisions for Solid Bulk Cargoes

  • Regulation 6 – Acceptability for Shipment
  • Regulation 7 – Loading, Unloading and Stowage of Solid Bulk Cargoes

Part C – Carriage of Grain

  • Regulation 8 – Definitions
  • Regulation 9 – Requirements for Cargo Ships Carrying Grain

Some recommended links on cargo safety

The next post will move on to explore the certification associated with Regulation 9, the carriage of grain.

Tagged , ,

SOLAS and dangerous goods


After the last handful of posts plugging some equipment related certificates this series will move on to the next group of certificates, those covering dangerous cargoes. Before starting on the certificates themselves there will be a brief pause to put the documents in perspective.

SOLAS  Chapter VII – Carriage of dangerous goods

Some Handy Revision Notes

SOLAS Chapter VII covers the carriage of dangerous goods at sea. It  is split into four parts (covering:

  • Part A – Dangerous goods in packaged form
  • Part A-1 -Dangerous goods in solid form in bulk
  • Part B Dangerous liquid chemicals in bulk
  • Part C Liquefied gases in bulk
  • Part D  Packaged irradiated nuclear fuel, plutonium and high-level radioactive waste

Part A – Carriage of dangerous goods in packaged form

What does it cover?imdg-1

The classification, packing, marking, labelling and placarding, documentation and stowage of dangerous goods.

What is the related code?

International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code

Click here for the IMO IMDG page>

What is the certification required?

Document of Compliance for Ships Carrying Dangerous Goods in Packaged or Dry Bulk Form

Part A-1 – Carriage of dangerous goods in solid form in bulk

imsbc-codeWhat does it cover?

The documentation, stowage and segregation requirements, and requires reporting of incidents involving such goods.

What is the related codes?

  • The International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code
  • International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Codeimdg-code-cover

Note that the IMSBC Code does not cover the carriage of grain in bulk.  The specific requirements for the transport of grain are covered by the International Code for the Safe Carriage of Grain in Bulk

What is the certification required?

Document of Compliance for Ships Carrying Dangerous Goods in Packaged or Dry Bulk Form

Part B- Ships carrying dangerous liquid chemicals in bulk

What does it cover?

Construction and equipment

What is the related code?

International Bulk Chemical Code (IBC Code).ibccode

What is the certification required?

Certificate of Fitness for the Carriage of Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk

See also the NLS certificate

Part C-ships carrying liquefied gases in bulk and gas carriersimdg-2

What does it cover?

The Construction and equipment

What is the related code?

The International Gas Carrier Code (IGC Code).igc-code

What is the certification required?

Certificate of Fitness for the Carriage of Liquefied Gases in Bulk

Part D-packaged irradiated nuclear fuel, plutonium and high-level radioactive wastesimdg-7

What does it cover?

Special requirements for the carriage

What is the related code?

Irradiated Nuclear Fuel, Plutonium and High-Level Radioactive Wastes on Board Ships (INF Code).

What is the certification required?

International Certificate of Fitness for the Carriage of INF Cargo

Useful links for further information

UK MGN 340 IMDG code and cargoes carried in cargo transport units

UK MCA dangerous goods at sea M Notices

MGN 36 Carrying dangerous goods in packaged or dry form



Tagged , ,

LRIT- Conformance Test Report

wpid-wp-1438103199200.jpegLong-Range Identification and Tracking

A revision guide to the Conformance Test Report

Filling the certification gaps in these posts with another communications equipment related document.

What is LRIT?

Long-Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) system, a system that enables the global identification and tracking of ships using existing  GMDSS equipment on board (INMARSAT-C).

A ship’s LRIT equipment must transmit position reports at 6-hour intervals unless a more frequent interval is requested remotely by an LRIT Data Center.


Click here for the IMO webpage on LRIT>

Why is the report required?

It us required under SOLAS chapter V Regulation 19.

Click here for the UK MCA copy of chapter V>

Which ships are required to carry LRIT?

The following ships engaged on international voyages:

  • Passenger ships
  • Cargo ships of 300 gross tonnage and upwards
  • Mobile offshore drilling units

How often must a vessel have a LRIT Conformance Test?

The LRIT conformance test certificate has no expiry date as long as the equipment remains the same. A retest may be required when:

  • A vessel changes or upgrades the LRIT equipment
  • A vessel changes flags

Note: ships shall automatically transmit the following long-range identification and tracking information:

  • The identity of the ship
  • The position of the ship
  • The date and time of the position provided.

What information is contained on the Conformance Test Report?

Ref: MSC.1/Circ.1307

  • Name of ship
  • Port of Registry
  • Distinctive number or letters
  • IMO number
  • Maritime Mobile Service Identifier
  • Gross Tonnage
  • Sea areas in which the ship is certified to operate
  • Sea areas for which this report is valid
  • Application Service Provider conducting the test
  • Details of the shipborne equipment used to transmit LRIT information (e.g., maker model, serial number and shipborne equipment identifier)

What does the report certify?

  • That the equipment has been found to meet the requirement of the provision of regulations V/19-1.6 and V/19-1.7
  • Is of a type approved by the Administration and meets the required performance standards
  • Has undergone conformance testing in accordance with the procedures and provisions set out in MSC.1/Circ.1307, and has shown that it can operate within the tolerances of the acceptance criteria stated in the circular.


Where to find more information on LRIT

UK MCA MGN 441 Changes to MCA’s 2002 SOLAS V Publication, Arising out of Amendments to SOLAS Chapter V>.



USCG LRIT frequently asked questions>


Tagged , , ,