International Maritime Organization  
Safer Shipping and Cleaner Oceans    

IMO International Safety Management (ISM) Code Compliance

Having just picked itself up after the shock of Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Code Compliance, the yachting industry has been faced with another set of regulations to adhere to - the ISM Code. As with the implementation of MCA Codes in 1996, most owners and their representatives are putting ISM in the 'too-hard' pile. Unfortunately it will not go away and needs to be addressed sooner rather than later in order to make the deadlines.

What is the ISM Code?

In essence, while MCA affected the physical safety of the vessel, ISM now affects the operational safety of the vessel and its personnel.

The ISM Code requires Owners (or their appointed management companies) to put in place management systems to ensure that the yacht is operated with the utmost regard to safety and pollution prevention. It will require each yacht to have its own unique safety and environmental policy outlining procedures, drills and standard practice for the crew to follow. Proof that these procedures are being adhered to is then forwarded by the crew to a shore-based auditable office to be logged, recorded and presented if required. Although the master of the vessel is still responsible for the running of the vessel, with ISM the ultimate responsibility and liability for the vessel is shifted over to the owner via the shore-based office. ISM is not new. It was adopted in 1994 and has been in full operation for the British merchant fleet since 1998.

Does ISM affect me?

At present the Code will only be enforced on yachts over 500 gross tons, engaged in trade (which includes chartering) who are under the Red Ensign. It has been strongly recommended by the MCA and IMO that all vessels over 150 gross tons should operate an ISM system and it is likely to come into force in the future.

Are there any deadlines?

Yes, as noted by SOLAS, all vessels over 500 GT engaged in trade should be operating an ISM system by July 2002.

How can Alexander Flemming Refits Help?

We can advise you on how to compile an IMO compliant procedures manual unique to your vessel, and arrange the set up of an auditable shore-based office and a proven communication procedure between the two parties.






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