2. ISM Code origins
• Serious 1980s accidents involving human
error and management faults as
• Chief example: Herald of Free Enterprise
capsize, March 1987.
3. ISM Code origins: Herald operation
• “Negative reporting” system: If no report to master,
everything was presumed to be OK for sailing.
• No written instructions for closing bow doors.
• Trimmed by head. OLB draught entries falsified.
• Management rejected masters’ request for bow doors
warning light, and for powerful ballast pump.
• Passenger count discrepancies: company unconcerned.
• Commercial pressure to sail early; bow doors often open.
• Lack of a marine superintendent to deal with masters’
complaints/suggestions/requests. No safety
• In summary: no safety culture in Company or its ship.
4. ISM Code origins
• Report of Formal Investigation into
Herald of Free Enterprise capsize:
– “The directors did not have any proper
comprehension of what their duties were.”
– “All concerned in management, from the members of
the Board of Directors down to the junior
superintendents, were guilty of fault in that all must
be regarded as sharing responsibility for the failure of
– “From top to bottom the body corporate was infected
with the disease of sloppiness.” (Lord Justice Sheen)
5. ISM Code origins
• Oct 1989: IMO adopted Resolution A.647(16) -
Guidelines on Management for the Safe Operation of
Ships and for Pollution Prevention.
• 1993: International Management Code for the Safe
Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention (ISM
Code) adopted by Res. A.741(18) and made mandatory
under SOLAS chapter IX.
• 1998: ISM Code entered into force for certain ship
types/sizes on international voyages.
• July 2002: ISM Code entered into force for other cargo
ships and MODUs of 500 GT + on international voyages.
6. ISM Code amendments
• 2002: Amendments to Code text (incl. addition of paras.
14, 15, 16) adopted by Res. MSC.104(73) in force 1 July
• 2004: Amendments to wording of certificates adopted by
Res. MSC.179(79) in force 1 July 2006.
• 2005: Amendments to wording of certificates adopted by
Res. MSC.195(80) in force 1 July 2009.
• 2008: Amendments to Code text adopted by Res.
MSC.273(85) in force 1 July 2010.
7. SOLAS ch. IX regulations
• Reg 1: Definitions of ISM Code, Company, and
ship types covered by ISM Code.
• Reg 2: Application. ISM Code applies to:
– passenger ships (any tonnage)
– cargo ships (500 GT +)
– MODUs (500 GT +)
on international voyages.
• Code does not apply to Government ships used
for non-commercial purposes.
8. SOLAS ch. IX regulations
• Reg 3: Safety management requirements.
Company and ship to comply with ISM Code,
which is mandatory.
• Reg 4: Certification. Document of Compliance to
be issued to every company which complies with
ISM Code. Copy DOC to be kept on ship. Safety
Management Certificate to be issued to every
ship. Verification required that company and its
shipboard management operate in accordance
with the approved safety management system.
9. SOLAS ch. IX regulations
• Reg 5: Maintenance of conditions. Safety
management system must be maintained
in accordance with ISM Code.
• Reg 6: Verification and control. Flag State
Administration, or a recognised
organisation on its behalf, must
periodically verify proper functioning of
10. UK law
• MS (ISM Code) (Ro-Ro Passenger Ferries)
Regulations 1997 (SI 1997/3022)
– implement SOLAS ch. IX in UK ro-pax ferries and
other ro-pax ferries in UK waters, as per EC
• The Merchant Shipping (International Safety
Management (ISM) Code) Regulations 1998 (SI
– implement SOLAS ch. IX in UK ships everywhere and
other ships in UK waters (except ro-pax ferries).
11. MCA guidance
• MGN 40 – International Safety
Management (ISM) Code. Essential
reading for Orals. Annex 1 is out of date!
• ISM Code – Instructions for the Guidance
of Surveyors Essential reading for Orals.
12. Other resources
• Guidelines on implementation of the ISM Code by Administrations -
Res. A.1022(26) In ISM Code 2010
• Guidelines for Operational Implementation of the ISM Code by
Companies - MSC-MEPC.7/Circ.5
• Information Resources on ISM Code 17pp IMO doc
• “Herald of Free Enterprise” - Lessons for management Useful article