The shipping industry is in a way the first global industry. It is the link between nations and continents. The establishment of international co-operation and conventions has therefore a long history in the shipping industry.
The public, as well as others who use shipping services have the right to expect that the ship they board or which carries their cargo is safe and within the context of the voyage, seaworthy and otherwise fit for the purpose. Seafarers too have the right to expect that their ship is safe and they will not be exposed to danger or unacceptably high levels of risk.
There are many stakeholders in marine transportation safety. The industry is highly regulated with prescriptive requirements to ensure well-designed and constructed ships. Many operational procedures and training or certification requirements have been researched and mandated to ensure safe operations.
It has always been recognised that the best way of improving safety at sea is by developing international regulations that are followed by all shipping nations and from the mid 19th century onwards a number of such treaties were adopted.
In 1948 United Nations established the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The first task was to adopt a new version of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), the most important of all treaties dealing with maritime safety. This was achieved in 1960 and IMO then turned its attention to such matters as facilitation of maritime traffic, load lines, and the carriage of dangerous goods.
But although safety was and remains IMO's most important responsibility, a new problem was emerging - pollution. Pollution prevention was part of IMO's original mandate but in the late 1960´s a number of tanker accidents resulted in further action being taken. As an example, recent changes to the convention will make it necessary for all new tankers to be fitted with double-hulls or a design that provides equivalent cargo protection in the event of a collision or grounding. These changes are also applied to existing tankers when they reach 25 years of age.
For certain maritime segments, the International Safety Management (ISM) Code has just come into force. For others it will enter into force soon and further insure quality of operations. State agencies i. e.
Maritime Directorates, mariners, pilots, those involved with maritime control or advisement systems, as ISSUE 1 2000 VOL 42 well as operating companies, classification societies, and many others have interests in developing a practical system that contributes to better working environment and safer operations.
The shipping industry has shown that free market forces can provide efficient cheap transport and it does this through a complex web of contracts and agreements. However, as ships increase in size, cargoes become more complex and ferries run even faster, the risk of disruption following an incident become correspondingly greater.
2000. Vol. 4, no 1