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IMO International Standard for the Safe Management and Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention as part of SOLAS Convention - Revised ISM Code Effective January 1, 2015

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What is the ISM Code?

International Safety Management Code (ISM Code) is the International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and Pollution Prevention, as adopted by the IMO assembly. Adopted in November 1993, the ISM Code came into force in July 1998. It is part of the SOLAS Chapter IX - Management for the Safe Operation of Ships. The latest amended version came into force on January 1, 2015.

The Code aims to support and encourage the development of a safety culture within the shipping industry while improving compliance with the requirements of international conventions. Three basic principles of the ISM code include the safety of - the people on board, the ship and cargo, and the environment.

Who is responsible for the ISM Code implementation?

The company is responsible for the implementation of the code. The code defines the company as the owner of the ship, any other organization, a manager, a bareboat charterer, or any other entity that has assumed responsibility for the operation. The code establishes safety management objectives and requires a safety management system (SMS) to be implemented by the company which operates a ship.

Who Should Comply with ISM Code?

The ISM Code applies to all ships now, and compliance is mandatory for passenger and cargo ships of 500 gross tonnages and upwards engaged on international voyages under SOLAS clauses. The procedures required should be well documented and compiled in a Safety Management Manual, a copy of which should be available on board for ready reference.

Important Terms Used in the ISM Code

  • Safety Management System: A structured and documented system enabling Company personnel to implement effectively the Company safety and environmental protection policy.
  • Designated Person: Also known as Designated Person Ashore (DPA), a designated person is the role identified by the ISM Code in effectively implementing a safety management system. DPA is a link between the company and those on board, having direct access to the highest levels of management.
  • Document of Compliance: A document issued to a Company which complies with the requirements of this Code.
  • Safety Management Certificate: A document issued to a ship which signifies that the Company and its shipboard management operate in accordance with the approved safety management system.
  • Objective Evidence: Quantitative or qualitative information, records or statements of fact pertaining of safety or to the existence and implementation of a safety management system element, which is based on observation, measurement or test and which can be verified.
  • Observation: A statement of fact made during a safety management audit and substantiated by objective evidence.
  • Non-Conformity: An observed situation where objective evidence indicates the non-fulfillment of a specified requirement.
  • Major Non-Conformity: An identifiable deviation that poses a serious threat to the safety of personnel or the ship or a serious risk to the environment that requires immediate corrective action or the lack of effective and systematic implementation of a requirement of this Code.
  • Anniversary Date: The day and month of each year that corresponds to the date of expiry of the relevant document or certificate.
  • Convention: The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974 as amended.


ISM Code - Mandatory Requirements & Guidance

The Code is a two-part document (Part A and Part B) describing mandatory requirements and guidance on safety management system, for the safe operation of ships and pollution prevention . Part A provides implementation requirements and Part B provides ISM certification and verification requirements.

ISM Code Part A: Implementation

ISM Code Part B - Certification and Verification

  • Certification and Verification: Certification and Periodical Verification, Interim Certification, Verification and Forms of Certificates (Sections 13, 14, 15 & 16)

ISM/ISPS/STCW Online Certification & Training

LAST UPDATED ON Sep 27, 2022