The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has been urged to make a full review of the existing safety regulatory regime. Participants of The IMO Symposium on the Future of Ship Safety, held over two days on 10-11 June, recommended a complete review SOLAS and to foster safety culture beyond mere compliance with regulatory requirements.

“There is no doubt in my mind that a safety culture that goes beyond mere compliance is essential in the future,” said IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu. “Ships will become more complex and, as they do, we must move away from safety being simply a series of box-ticking exercises. That approach is not good enough now, and the administrative burden must be reduced.”

Sekimizu called for a ‘wholesale’ review of the IMO’s International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), first drafted in response to the Titanic disaster in 1914 and last amended in 1974. Sekimizu suggested a potential ‘Solas II’ should be created, Lloyds List reports.

IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu opens day 2 of the IMO Future Ship Safety Symposium (Credit: IMO)

For the superyacht industry, any changes made to regulations at ship passenger level, transfer to the adoption of procedures for yachts if they carry 12 or more guests.

But some argue that consideration needs to be made for a yacht specific safety management system as part of the overhaul.

Jake DesVergers at International Yacht Bureau commented that:

“What would be ideal, in my opinion, is for the IMO to adopt a new chapter in SOLAS, similar to what was done for high-speed craft and bulk carriers. Or they could go a completely different route and adopt an IMO Code.

"By going this route, yacht safety would officially be covered under SOLAS and create a harmonized standard just for yachts.”

Although the Yacht Codes, including LY2, can be considered modified versions of SOLAS, DesVergers pointed out there are complications with the method:

“In our daily work at IYB, we are dealing predominantly with the UK's LY2, plus five other different yacht codes. Those Codes are not harmonized and far from consistent.”

Delegates at the IMO’s Symposium in London

On a practical as well as administrative level, yacht crew point out the issues in 'one size fits all' ship passenger specific regulations:

Speaking to Superyacht Group publication, The Crew Report this month, chief engineer for Klaret ocean Ltd, Paul Doherty, comments: “Most safety management systems in the large yacht sector have come copied and pasted from the cruise sector. And this lengthens the chain of custody, adding more tiers [into the process] before you can make an interjection.”

The IMO Symposium on the Future of Ship Safety was held on 10 and 11 June, at IMO Headquarters in London. It follows an eight-day IMO Safety Committee meeting, concluding on 21 June.

Experts from
maritime regulations and flag registries will be at the forthcoming Superyacht Management Meeting: Port State Control & Security, 26 June Barcelona.

To register your place today, please contact Suzie on, call her on on +44 (0)207 801 1014, or click here to register online.

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International Maritime Organization (IMO)

IYB - International Yacht Bureau

The Crew Report