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An Introduction to the IMO International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974 (as amended) and its Provisions

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The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) 1974 (as amended) by International Maritime Organization (IMO) is an international maritime treaty. SOLAS was originally introduced as a response to the Titanic disaster in 1914. the 1974 Convention has been updated and amended regularly to cover all issues regarding safety at sea, including sea pollution and trading. It was adopted on November 1st, 1974 and entered into force on May 25th 1980.

The main objective of the SOLAS Convention is to specify minimum standards for the construction, equipment and operation of ships, compatible with their safety. The convention requires signatory flag states to ensure that ships flagged by them comply with at least these standards. In 2014, the IMO agreed that amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) should follow a four-year cycle for entry into force. The first entry into force date is then January 1st 2020.

The Convention applies only to ships engaged on international voyages and does not apply to warships, cargo ships of less than 500 GT, non propelled ships, wooden ships, non commercial pleasure yachts and fishing vessels. Control provisions (Port State Control) also allow governments to inspect ships of other states. The​ current SOLAS Convention includes articles setting out general obligations, amendment procedure and so on, followed by an annex divided into 14 Chapters.

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imo solas 74

SOLAS 1974 As Amended



  • Chapter I - General Provisions: Regulations concerning the survey of the various types of ships and the issuing of documents.
  • Chapter II-1 - Construction - Subdivision and Stability, Machinery and Electrical Installations: The passenger ships into watertight compartments in case of damage to the ship's hull so that the vessel will remain afloat and stable.
  • Chapter II-2 - Fire Protection, Fire Detection and Fire Extinction: Fire safety provisions for all ships and specific measures for passenger ships, cargo ships and tankers.
  • Chapter III - Life Saving Appliances and Arrangements: Requirements for life-saving appliances and arrangements according to type of ship, such as life boats, rescue boats and life jackets.
  • Chapter IV - Radiocommunications: Incorporates the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), SART, EPIRB etc.
  • Chapter V - Safety of Navigation: Identifies certain navigation safety services along with provisions of an operational nature applicable to all ships.
  • Chapter VI - Carriage of Cargoes: Covers requirements for stowage and securing of cargo or container units of all types of cargo except liquids and gases in bulk and compliance of the International Grain Code.
  • Chapter VII - Carriage of Dangerous Goods: Deals with carriage of dangerous goods in packaged form, carriage of dangerous goods in solid form in bulk, construction and equipment of ships carrying dangerous liquid chemicals in bulk, construction and equipment of ships carrying liquefied gases in bulk, and compliance with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code).
  • Chapter VIII - Nuclear Ships: Basic requirements for nuclear-powered ships and radiation hazards.
  • Chapter IX - Management for the Safe Operation of Ships: Mandatory International Safety Management - ISM Code requirements for shipowners/companies or person of responsibility.
  • Chapter X - Safety Measures for High-Speed Craft: Mandatory the International Code of Safety for High-Speed Craft (HSC Code) requirements.
  • Chapter XI-1 - Special Measures to Enhance Maritime Safety: Requirements relating to authorization of recognized organizations, enhanced surveys, ship identification number scheme, and port State control etc.
  • Chapter XI-2 - Special Measures to Enhance Maritime Security: Requirements under the International Ship and Port Facilities Security Code (ISPS Code), role of the Master in security of the ship, ship security alert system, and port facility security.
  • Chapter XII - Additional Safety Measures for Bulk Carriers: Structural requirements for bulk carriers over 150 meters in length.
  • Chapter XIII - Verification of Compliance: IMO Member State Audit Scheme
  • Chapter XIV - Safety Measures for Ships Operating In Polar Waters: International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code).​

Disclaimer: For general information purpose only - please check with IMO SOLAS Convention for the latest and accurate info

LAST UPDATED ON Jan 19, 2020