SOLAS Certified

SOLAS Certified

About SOLAS Convention


The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) is an international maritime treaty which sets minimum safety standards in the construction, equipment and operation of merchant ships. The convention requires signatory flag states to ensure that ships flagged by them comply with at least these standards

The current version of SOLAS is the 1974 version, known as SOLAS 1974, which came into force on 25 May 1980. As of November 2018, SOLAS 1974 had 164 contracting states, which flag about 99% of merchant ships around the world in terms of gross tonnage

SOLAS in its successive forms is generally regarded as the most important of all international treaties concerning the safety of merchant ships


As at March 2016, SOLAS 1974 had 162 contracting States, which flag about 99% of merchant ships around the world in terms of gross tonnage. As of 2015, the non-parties to SOLAS 1974 include Bolivia, Lebanon and Sri Lanka, all considered flag of convenience states


Image of the Printed SOLAS
Image of the Printed SOLAS

SOLAS 1974 requires flag states to ensure that ships flagged by them comply with the minimum safety standards in the construction, equipment and operation of merchant ships. The treaty includes articles setting out general obligations, etc., followed by an annexe divided into twelve chapters, two new chapters were added in 2016 and 2017. Of these, chapter five (often called ‘SOLAS V’) is the only one that applies to all vessels on the sea, including private yachts and small craft on local trips as well as to commercial vessels on international passages. Many countries have turned these international requirements into national laws so that anybody on the sea who is in breach of SOLAS V requirements may find themselves subject to legal proceedings

Life boats - A key part of the SOLAS Convention
Life boats – A key part of the SOLAS Convention

Chapter I – General Provisions

Surveying the various types of ships and certifying that they meet the requirements of the convention

Chapter II-1 – Construction – Subdivision and stability, machinery and electrical installations

The subdivision of passenger ships into watertight compartments so that after damage to its hull, a vessel will remain afloat and stable

Chapter II-2 – Fire protection, fire detection and fire extinction

Fire safety provisions for all ships with detailed measures for passenger ships, cargo ships and tanker

Chapter III – Life-saving appliances and arrangements

Life-saving appliances and arrangements, including requirements for life boats, rescue boats and life jackets according to type of ship. The specific technical requirements are given in the International Life-Saving Appliance (LSA) Code

Chapter IV – Radiocommunications

The Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS) requires passenger and cargo ships on international voyages to carry radio equipment, including satellite Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) and Search and Rescue Transponders (SARTs)

Chapter V – Safety of navigation

This chapter requires governments to ensure that all vessels are sufficiently and efficiently manned from a safety point of view. It places requirements on all vessels regarding voyage and passage planning, expecting a careful assessment of any proposed voyages by all who put to sea. Every mariner must take account of all potential dangers to navigation, weather forecasts, tidal predictions, the competence of the crew, and all other relevant factors. It also adds an obligation for all vessels’ masters to offer assistance to those in distress and controls the use of lifesaving signals with specific requirements regarding danger and distress messages. It is different from the other chapters, which apply to certain classes of commercial shipping, in that these requirements apply to all vessels and their crews, including yachts and private craft, on all voyages and trips including local ones

Chapter VI – Carriage of Cargoes

Requirements for the stowage and securing of all types of cargo and cargo containers except liquids and gases in bulk

Chapter VII – Carriage of dangerous goods

Requires the carriage of all kinds of dangerous goods to be in compliance with the International Bulk Chemical Code (IBC Code), The International Code of the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (IGC Code) and the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code)

Chapter VIII – Nuclear ships

Nuclear powered ships are required, particularly concerning radiation hazards, to conform to the Code of Safety for Nuclear Merchant Ships

Chapter IX – Management for the Safe Operation of Ships

Requires every shipowner and any person or company that has assumed responsibility for a ship to comply with the International Safety Management Code (ISM)

Chapter X – Safety measures for high-speed craft

Makes mandatory the International Code of Safety for High-speed craft (HSC Code)

Chapter XI-1 – Special measures to enhance maritime Safety

Requirements relating to organizations responsible for carrying out surveys and inspections, enhanced surveys, the ship identification number scheme, and operational requirements

Chapter XI-2 – Special measures to enhance maritime security

Includes the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code). Confirms that the role of the Master in maintaining the security of the ship is not, and cannot be, constrained by the Company, the charterer or any other person. Port facilities must carry out security assessments and develop, implement and review port facility security plans. Controls the delay, detention, restriction, or expulsion of a ship from a port. Requires that ships must have a ship security alert system, as well as detailing other measures and requirements

Chapter XII – Additional safety measures for bulk carriers

Specific structural requirements for bulk carriers over 150 metres in length

Chapter XIII – Verification of compliance

Makes mandatory from 1 January 2016 the IMO Member State Audit Scheme

Chapter XIV – Safety measures for ships operating in polar waters

The chapter makes mandatory, from 1 January 2017, the Introduction and part I-A of the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (the Polar Code)


Titanic Disaster - The catalyst for the SOLAS Convention
Titanic Disaster – The catalyst for the SOLAS Convention

The first version of SOLAS Treaty was passed in 1914 in response to the sinking of the RMS Titanic, which prescribed numbers of lifeboats and other emergency equipment along with safety procedures, including continuous radio watches. The 1914 treaty never entered into force due to the outbreak of the First World War.

Further versions were adopted in 1929 and 1948

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