SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea)
Introduction & History
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 1960 Convention - which was adopted on 17 June 1960 and entered into force on 26 May 1965 - was the first major task for IMO after the Organization's creation and it represented a considerable step forward in modernizing regulations and in keeping pace with technical developments in the shipping industry.
The intention was to keep the Convention up to date by periodic amendments but in practice the amendments procedure proved to be very slow. It became clear that it would be impossible to secure the entry into force of amendments within a reasonable period of time.
As a result, a completely new Convention was adopted in 1974 which included not only the amendments agreed up until that date but a new amendment procedure - the tacit acceptance procedure - designed to ensure that changes could be made within a specified (and acceptably short) period of time.
The 1974 Convention has been updated and amended on numerous occasions. The 1974 SOLAS came into force on 25 May 1980, 12 months after its ratification by at least 50 countries with at least 50% of gross tonnage. It has been updated and amended on numerous occasions since then and the Convention in force today is sometimes referred to as SOLAS~74/78 ~ Amended.
Objectives of SOLAS
The main objective of the SOLAS Convention is to specify minimum standards for the construction, equipment and operation of ships, ensuring the safety and security of the vessel & the personnel working on board. Flag States are responsible for ensuring that ships under their flag comply with its requirements, and a number of certificates are prescribed in the Convention as proof that this has been done. Control provisions also allow Contracting Governments to inspect ships of other Contracting States if there are clear grounds for believing that the ship and its equipment do not substantially comply with the requirements of the Convention - this procedure is known as Port State Control. The current SOLAS Convention includes Articles setting out general obligations, amendment procedure and so on, followed by an Annex divided into 14 Chapters.
All Life Saving Appliances on board a ship must meet requirements as stated in the SOLAS - Chapter III and Life Saving Appliances Code Book with respect to its design criteria or specifications in order to comply with the regulations and satisfy the Administration (Flag State).