Convention for the Safety of Human Life at Sea - SOLAS

The Convention for the Safety of Human Life at Sea (SOLAS, SOLAS, International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea) is the most important of all international agreements on the safety of merchant ships. Today, the working version of the document is SOLAS-74.

Each vessel subject to this regulatory document, making an international flight, must comply with its requirements. Otherwise, it may be delayed or not allowed to enter the port. 
The establishment of minimum standards that meet the safety requirements for the construction, equipment and operation of ships is the main objective of the International Convention for the Protection of Human Life at Sea.

The State under whose flag the vessel is located must ensure that the vessels comply with the requirements of SOLAS. To prove their implementation, the Convention provides for many certificates. Such documents (usually called "conventional") are issued either by the Flag Administration itself, or on its behalf ("by the authority of the Administration") - if there is a corresponding order.

The control conditions also allow Governments to inspect vessels flying the flags of other States, especially if there are clear grounds for doubt that the vessel and/or its equipment do not substantially comply with the requirements of the Convention. This procedure is called "port State control" (Port State Control, PSC).
The current text of the SOLAS Convention includes Articles setting out general obligations, amendment procedures, etc., and is accompanied by an Appendix divided into 12 Chapters.

Historical background

The first version of the document was adopted in 1914, after the sinking of the Titanic, the second in 1929 after the sinking of the Vestris, the third in 1948, after the explosion of the Grankan, the fourth in 1960.
The 1960 edition of the Convention, which was adopted on June 17, 1960 and entered into force on May 26, 1965, turned out to be the first significant task of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), whose main goal was the safety of ships and their crews.

This convention covered a wide range of measures designed to improve the safety of navigation. It was a significant step forward in the modernization of instructions and maintaining the pace of technical development in the shipping industry.

It was necessary to maintainregulatory documentat the level of modernity by adopting periodic amendments. But in practice, due to the complicated procedure for adopting new changes, the procedure for introducing amendments turned out to be too slow. It soon became clear that it would be impossible to ensure the entry into force of the adopted amendments within a reasonable period of time.

For this reason, on November 1, 1974, a new text of the SOLAS Convention was adopted at the International Conference on the Protection of Human Life at Sea. It included not only the actual changes agreed by the specified date, but also a new procedure for accepting amendments by default - a procedure designed to ensure that the adopted changes could enter into force within a minimum short period of time. For example, instead of requiring an amendment to enter into force after its adoption by two-thirds of the signatories to the Convention, the new default adoption procedure assumes that the amendment will enter into force after the specified date, unless objections are received from an agreed number of parties before that date.

The current text of the Convention is also known as "SOLAS 1974, as amended". The SOLAS-74 Convention entered into force on May 25, 1980.

These measures have made it possible in numerous cases to update, refine and correct the Convention as amended in 1974. So, in 1988, a Protocol was adopted to it (on November 10, at the International Conference on the Harmonized System of Examination and Registration of Certificates). In 1992, the IMO issued the so-called Consolidated Text of the Convention.

In the period from December 9-13, 2002, at the Diplomatic Conference on Maritime Security held in London, amendments were adopted to Chapter XI, which entered into force on July 1, 2004.