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Port State control inspection common international safety management code issues

The purpose of the international safety management code (ISM code) is to provide an international standard for the safe management and operation of ships and for pollution prevention.

Under the ISM code, the operator of the ship is required to have and maintain a safety management system to make sure that there is safe systems for all operations on board.

During your regular checks and before an inspection, make sure to check:

  • The safety management system on your ship:
    • is up-to-date and accurate
    • includes all the functions of the ship including emergency systems like firefighting and life-saving equipment.
  • The overall condition of your ship:
    • Maintenance systems are effective.
    • Lifesaving, fire fighting and communication systems are ready for use.
    • Training in emergency arrangements are effective.
    • Defects are identified, reported and acted upon in a timely manner.
    • Crew are aware of their roles and responsibilities.

A deficiency noted by our inspectors may require a more detailed inspection of the safety management system. You may also be issued multiple deficiencies: an ISM detention as well as other deficiencies issued under other regulations and conventions.

Other ISM deficiencies are normally given a code and three months to properly rectify, fix and document the changes to the safety management system.

There is evidence during an inspection that there are several deficiencies which are related to one particular area—for example fire-fighting capabilities or life-saving appliances. Where vessels are mandated to have an ISM system they will have on board a safety management system. The purpose of the code and the safety management system is to provide a safe system for all operations on board. Numerous deficiencies in one area may indicate that the safety management system itself has failed in some way—either the deficiencies have resulted from something that is not adequately covered in the safety management system, or the safety management system adequately covered the issues but was not effectively implemented on board.

Last updated: 5 February 2020