International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 (SOLAS)

International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 (SOLAS)

The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, adopted by the International Conference on Safety of Life at Sea on 1 November 1974, replaced the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1960 and entered into force on 25 May 1980. It has since been amended by means of Protocols,1 by resolutions adopted either by the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee,2 or by conferences of Contracting Governments.3

The Convention contains only general rules on the manner of implementation of its provisions and of the annexes thereto; on the manner in which it may be amended; and on the obligation of Contracting Governments to communicate and to deposit with the Secretary General of IMCO (now IMO) a list of non-governmental agencies authorised to act on their behalf in the administration of measures for safety of life at sea and of the text of laws, decrees orders and regulations which would be promulgated on the matters within the scope of the Convention.

The rules aiming at ensuring safety of life are almost all based on safety of ships and are contained in the annex to the Convention, which at present consists of the following twelve chapters:

  • I General provisions
  • II Construction
  • III Life-saving appliances and arrangements
  • IV Radio communications
  • V Safety of navigation
  • VI Carriage of cargoes
  • VII Carriage of dangerous goods
  • VIII Nuclear ships
  • IX Management for the safe operation of ships
  • X Safe measures for high-speed craft
  • XI Special measures to enhance maritime safety
  • XII Additional safety measures for bulk carriers.

Of course, the rules contained in many of these chapters have an impact on compliance with the specific rules adopted by the preventive conventions, such as the regulations on surveys and certificates4 and on maintenance of conditions after survey,5 the regulations on the structure of ships,6 those on corrosion prevention of seawater ballast tank,7 and on suppression of fire.8

As for MARPOL,9

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