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Safety and Security in Shipping Operations

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Shipping Operations Management

Part of the book series: WMU Studies in Maritime Affairs ((WMUSTUD,volume 4))


Through the very intensive efforts of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a rather extended number of Conventions and Regulations stipulate the operational environment and the associated training requirements for maritime professionals, both on-board vessels and ashore. The influence of International Conventions that are regularly updated/improved, such as the one related to the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), the one dealing with Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping (STCW) and the extremely important Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) are all very well known within the members of the maritime community and many outsiders. It is true that maritime accidents have always occurred throughout human history. However, all those involved with activities at sea (and especially with the conduct of navigation) need to exert every effort in order to ensure the safe voyage of the ship, as well as the provision of optimized shipping operations; more importantly, to reduce/eliminate incidents that could result into loss of human life and/or cargo. Standardization of shipboard equipment and ensuring services to support mariners in case of need through SOLAS is essential for the maritime industry. The SOLAS Convention, which is the focus of analysis within the current chapter, also includes the International Safety Management Code (ISM) and the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS); with the first one dealing with risk mitigation in relation to the safety domain and ISPS dealing with the various contemporary security threats, a very effective regulatory framework to avoid safety and security incidents during shipping operations is created.

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  1. 1.

    Maritime accidents, such as groundings or collisions, still frequently make headline news. Accidents still happen at sea today, despite the fact that the contemporary existing means of avoidance are present in every aspect of the maritime profession and far more reliable than they used to be.

  2. 2.

    Electronics (and the introduction of the microprocessor), have made possible a great number of inventions that have been of great importance to all aspects of human endeavor; the field of navigation is not an exception.

  3. 3.

    The watertight compartment design contained a flaw that may have been a critical factor in Titanic’s sinking: while the individual bulkheads were indeed watertight, water could spill from one compartment into another. See also: (2009) Staff (accessed on 30 Dec 2016).

  4. 4.

    SOLAS Article 1 (1914 version), highlighted the intention of the Treaty and the importance to develop adequate domestic legislation in order to enforce the Convention. More specifically, it stated that: “The High Contracting Parties undertake to give effect of the provisions of this Convention, for the purpose of securing safety of life at sea, to promulgate all regulations and to take all steps which may be necessary to give the Convention full and complete effect.” The evolution of SOLAS is also available at: International Maritime Organization—IMO (2016a) IMO’s Staff.,-1974.aspx (accessed on 12 Dec 2016).

  5. 5.

    It is worth mentioning that the 1929 version of SOLAS did not change substantially the principles developed during its earlier version; however, the application of the Convention was slightly extended. Furthermore, the associated technical details were further clarified and some important consideration inserted as, inter alia, stability test, radio watches and meteorological services. Additionally, a revised version of the international regulations for preventing collisions at sea (Collision Regulations) was inserted in Annex II.

  6. 6.

    Between 1929 and 1948, significant technological improvements in relation to shipping activities, as well as the need to cover other categories of ships triggered the 1948 SOLAS Conference, held (again) in London. The application of SOLAS expanded to Cargo and Tanker ships, although the vast majority of its numerous provisions remained applicable only to Passenger ships. For example, while Part E detailed the requirements on Fire Detection and Extinction for both Passenger and Cargo Ships, Part D on the same topic remained in force exclusively for the Passenger ones. The 1948 SOLAS Convention recognized the value of casualty investigation as a tool to improve related regulations in the future. Furthermore, the technical requirements of shipbuilding stated within the Convention expanded significantly, both in number and level of detail. For example, various mathematic formulas were integrated in the official text, particularly in the part dealing with construction.

  7. 7.

    For a more detailed description of the GDMSS system and other useful info see IMO (2016b) IMO’s Staff. (accessed on 12 Dec 2016).

  8. 8.

    IMO (2016c) IMO’s Staff. (accessed on 12 Dec 2016).

  9. 9.

    Ibid. Despite that the 1960 SOLAS followed the same structure with the 1948 version, the respective regulations were significantly expanded, particularly on machineries and electric installations. Additionally, in an effort to cope with the latest trends of that era, Chapter VIII (on Nuclear powered ships) was added and the provisions in relation to radio-communication systems were elaborated in great detail.

  10. 10.

    International Maritime Organization-IMO (2016a) IMO’s Staff.,-1974.aspx (accessed on 12 Dec 2016).

  11. 11.

    This chapter includes twenty-one (21) Regulations and it is divided in three different parts: Part A provides the various definitions needed for application. Among other definitions, it is clarified that the “present Regulations apply only to ships engaged on international voyages”. Regulation 2 defines an international voyage as “a voyage from a country to which the present Convention applies to a port outside such country, or conversely”. Furthermore, Regulation 3 stipulates that “The present Regulations, unless expressly provided otherwise, do not apply to: (ii) Cargo ships of less than 500 Gross Tonnage”; Part B describes in detail the means of inspection and survey of ships; finally, Part C is dealing with casualty investigations.

  12. 12.

    For rather self-explanatory reasons, the highest degree of subdivision applies to Passenger ships.

  13. 13.

    It is interesting to note that during the 1990s, the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) recognized that the prescriptive-based regulations were unable to cope with the new ship design challenges and took appropriate action to incorporate the goal-based philosophy into the technical regulations of SOLAS. The basic principles of IMO’s goal-based standards-regulations are: (1) Broad, over-arching safety, environmental and/or security standards that ships are required to meet during their lifecycle. (2) The required level to be achieved by the requirements applied by class societies and other recognized organizations, Administrations and IMO. (3) Clear, demonstrable, verifiable, long standing, implementable and achievable, irrespective of ship design and technology. (4) Specific enough in order not to be open to differing interpretations. International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) official website (2016d). IMO’s Staff. (accessed on 12 Dec 2016).

  14. 14.

    Regulations 4–13 state that Contracting Governments must take all necessary steps to bring to the knowledge of those concerned the information about any dangers to navigation. Therefore, administrations must undertake to encourage the collection of relevant data and to arrange for their examination, dissemination and exchange in the manner most suitable for the purpose of aiding navigation. These activities involve for example meteorological and hydrographic services (forecasts and warnings), vessel traffic services (VTS) in territorial seas, ship’s routeing, search and rescue services, as well as support of life-saving signals and the maritime buoyage system.

  15. 15.

    There is also Part D, including special requirements for the carriage of packaged irradiated nuclear fuel, plutonium and high-level radioactive wastes on board ships and requires ships carrying such products to comply with the International Code for the Safe Carriage of Packaged Irradiated Nuclear Fuel, Plutonium and High-Level Radioactive Wastes on Board Ships (INF Code).

  16. 16.

    In another subdivision, Part A-1 (Carriage of dangerous goods in solid form in bulk) covers the documentation, stowage and segregation requirements for these goods and requires reporting of incidents involving such goods.

  17. 17.

    Nuclear-powered civil merchant ships have been developed only by a rather limited number of countries, such as USA, Germany, Japan and particularly Russia that has successfully operated this type of propulsion in ice-breakers at the Polar Regions (Arctic and Antarctic) since the year 1959.

  18. 18.

    When activated the ship security alert system initiates and transmits a ship-to-shore security alert to a competent authority designated by the Administration, identifying the ship, its location and indicating that the security of the ship is under threat or it has been compromised. This system does not raise any alarm on-board the ship. The specific system is capable of being activated from the navigation bridge and in at least one other location.

  19. 19.

    Adopted in 2014, the Polar Code (PCD) aims to enhance safety of ships and safety of navigation in the harsh polar environment. This Code introduces various new measures affecting design, equipment and operation of ships in Polar waters. One of the key elements is the Polar Water Operational Manual (PWOM) which must include the relevant operational procedures.

  20. 20.

    In order to avoid confusion, it is also necessary to pin point that under SOLAS Regulation I/1(a), the Regulation IX/2.1 applies only to ships on international voyages.

  21. 21.

    The ISM Code development was a result of various combining factors that resulted into a unique overall background: a number of very serious maritime accidents/casualties (e.g. Herald of Free Enterprise), forcing regulators to respond; a shipping crisis leading to numerous claims and reaction of insurance market; the discovery of “human factors” and “risk management”; the establishment of the ISO 9001 system of management.

  22. 22.

    Total losses are defined as actual total losses or constructive total losses recorded for vessels of 100 gross tons or over (excluding for example pleasure craft and smaller vessels). Safety and Shipping Review (2016). Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty based on the Lloyd’s List Intelligence Casualty Statistics. (accessed on 24 Feb 2016).

  23. 23.

    International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) official website (2016e). IMO’s Staff. (accessed on 24 Feb 2017).


Further Reading

  • Baldauf, M., Dalaklis, D., & Kataria, A. (2016). Team training in safety and security via simulation: A practical dimension of maritime education and training. Paper presented at the 10th international technology, education and development conference, International academy of technology, education and development-IATED, Valencia, Spain, 6–8 March 2016.

    Google Scholar 

  • Benedict, K., Felsenstein, C., & Baldauf, M. (2013). Simulation to enhance maritime safety and security. TransNav – International Journal on Marine Navigation and Safety of Sea Transportation, 7(3), 327–336.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dalaklis, D. (2012). Somali piracy: Some good news, but a lot more needs to be done. Maritime security Review, (9), 3.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dalaklis, D., Baxevani, E., & Siousiouras, P. (2016). The future of arctic shipping business and the positive influence of the Polar Code. Paper presented at the International Association of Maritime Economists 2016 conference, Hamburg, Germany, 24–26 August 2016.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rodrigue, J. P., Comtois, C., & Slack, B. (2009). The geography of transport systems. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • United Nations Conference on Trade and Development-UNCTAD (2016). Review of Maritime Transport 2016. Accessed 1 Jan 2017.

  • Visvikis, I., & Dalaklis, D. (2014). Managers in today’s competitive maritime industry: Staying ahead of the curve. NAFS Magazine-World Shipping News (Vol. 100), September 2014.

    Google Scholar 

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Dalaklis, D. (2017). Safety and Security in Shipping Operations. In: Visvikis, I., Panayides, P. (eds) Shipping Operations Management. WMU Studies in Maritime Affairs, vol 4. Springer, Cham.

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