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last updated 18-Aug-2020
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While there have been various international conventions governing activities in international waters for somer time, after 9/11 the need emerged to tighten the legal maritime regime and to establish a comprehensive set of measures to enhance the security of ships and port facilities. More recently, the expansion of maritime piracy in the Indian Ocean and Arabic Sea have brought to the forefront the old set of universally accepted conventions, their more recent amendments, as well as emerging regulations (many of them at the national level) to govern private military seamanship. Keep an eye on this section, as it will require more periodic updates in the near future. CLICK HERE to return to the Frequently Consulted Documents page.


International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea. The main objective of the SOLAS Convention is to specify minimum standards for the construction, equipment and operation of ships, compatible with their safety. SOLAS was adopted on 1 November 1974 and entered into force on 25 May 1980. The Convention in force today is sometimes referred to as: 'SOLAS, 1974, as amended': TEXT | PDF

SOLAS 1974: Brief History - List of amendments

International Ship and Port Facility Security Code. The ISPS Code is a comprehensive set of measures to enhance the security of ships and port facilities, developed in response to the perceived threats to ships and port facilities in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in the United States. The new security measures were adopted after 1 July 2004: TEXT | PDF

The International Ship and Port Facility Security Code
The Company and the Ship
The Port Facility
Responsibilities of Contracting Governments
Amendments to SOLAS
New Chapter XI-2 (Special measures to enhance maritime security)
Resolutions adopted by the conference
Officers of the Conference

International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers. STCW prescribes minimum standards relating to training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers which countries are obliged to meet or exceed.STCW was adopted on: 7 July 1978, entered into force on 28 April 1984, and had major revisions in 1995 and 2010: TEXT | PDF

International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue. SAR was adopted on 27 April 1979 and entered into force on 22 June 1985. After SAR's adoption, IMO's Maritime Safety Committee divided the world's oceans into 13 search and rescue areas, in each of which the countries concerned have delimited search and rescue regions for which they are responsible: TEXT | PDF

> Revised Annex to the SAR Covnention. Adopted in May 1998 and entered ito force in January 2000, the revised technical Annex of SAR clarifies the responsibilities of Governments and puts greater emphasis on the regional approach and co-ordination between maritime and aeronautical SAR operations. TEXT

Professional associations overseing the application of these instruments are listed at the MARITIME ORGANIZATIONS page

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