Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) & Convention for Prevention of Marine Pollution (MARPOL): A General Overview

- Apr 21, 2018-

The maritime industry’s most important concerns are safety of personnel and prevention of marine pollution for a smooth cargo transportation and marine operation at high seas. International Maritime Organisation (IMO) introduced SOLAS – Safety of life at sea & MARPOL- The International Convention for Prevention of Marine Pollution from Ships, for safeguarding human life and marine environment from all kinds of pollutions.

SOLAS 74, the last adopted revised convention of 1974, includes a number of chapters which deals with safety precautions and safety procedures starting from the construction of ship to real emergency situation like – “Abandon Ship”.  The convention is updated so as to meet the safety norms in the modern shipping industry.

MARPOL 73/78, since it came into force in 1973 and later revised by the protocol in 1978, ensures that shipping remains the least environmentally damaging modes of transport. It clearly highlights the points to ensure that marine environment is preserved by elimination of pollution by all harmful substance which can be discharged from ship.



The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974 describes the requirement for all merchant ship of any flag state to comply with the minimum safety norms laid down in the chapters which are as follows:

Chapter I – General Provisions: Surveys and certification of all the safety items etc are included.

Chapter II-1 – Construction – Subdivision and stability, machinery and electrical installations: Deals with water tight integrity of the ship, especially for passenger vessel.

Chapter II-2 – Fire protection, fire detection and fire extinction: This chapter elaborates the means and measure for fire protection in accommodation, cargo spaces and engine room for passenger, cargo and tanker ship.

Chapter III – Life-saving appliances and arrangements: All the life saving appliances and there use in different situations is described.

Chapter IV – Radio communications: Includes requirements of GMDSS, SARTEPIRB etc for cargo and passenger vessel.

Chapter V – Safety of navigation: This chapter deals with all the sea going vessels of all sizes, from boats to VLCCs, and includes passage planning, navigationdistress signal etc.

Chapter VI – Carriage of Cargoes: This chapter defines storage and securing of different types of cargo and containers, but does not include oil and gas cargo.

Chapter VII – Carriage of dangerous goods: Defines International Maritime Goods Code for storage and transportation of dangerous goods.

Chapter VIII – Nuclear ships: The code of safety for nuclear propelled ship is stated in this chapter.

Chapter IX – Management for the Safe Operation of Ships: The International Safety Management code for ship owner and operator is described clearly.

Chapter X – Safety measures for high-speed craft: safety code for high speed craft is explained.

Chapter XI-1 & 2– Special measures to enhance maritime safety: Special and enhanced survey for safe operation, other operational requirements and ISPS code is briefed in this chapter.

Chapter XII – Additional safety measures for bulk carriers: Includes safety requirement for above 150 meters length bulk carrier.

MARPOL 73/78

This marine environmental convention consists of six implemented annexes for controlling and eliminating of marine pollution.


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They are as follows:

Annex I:  Regulation for prevention of pollution by oil (October 1983).

Annex II: Regulations for control of pollution by Noxious Liquid Substance in bulk (April 1987).

Annex III: Regulation for prevention of pollution by harmful substance carried at sea in packaged form (July 1992).

Annex IV: Regulation for prevention of pollution by sewage from ships (Sep 2003).

Annex V: Regulation for prevention of pollution by Garbage from ships (Dec 1998).

Annex VI: Regulation for prevention of Air pollution from ships (May 2005).

Thus, Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and Convention for Prevention of Marine Pollution (MARPOL) stands as two solid pillars that support the maritime industry by protecting the most important issues – marine pollution prevention and safety of human life.