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The International Safety Management Code or ISM Code administers an international regulation for all ships or vessels. Specifically, the safe management of ships and rules for preventing pollution at sea.


Establishing rules, standards, regulations, or laws is truly necessary for securing safe marine operations and protecting the sea environment. The ISM Code or International Safety Management is a prime example of an international standard presumed mandatory for all ships. Furthermore, this code is crucial for implementing objectives on safety management and requiring a specific system for safety management that to be set up by the maritime company.  That, which is delineated as the owner of the ship or any party such as bareboat charterer or manager, assuming responsibility for regulating the ship.

The marine company should organize and apply this policy for attaining the objectives of the ISM Code. This as well includes administering the need for shore-based support and resources. Each company should as well assign persons ashore who have a direct access to the management’s highest level. In addition,  the company should be documenting and assembling the measures or procedures of the ISM Code in a Safety Management Manual. This is basically the copy that is to be kept on board the ship.



The Objectives of the ISM Code

  • Ensures that life at sea is safe
  • Prevents loss of life or any human injury
  • Prohibits acts that cause damage to the sea environment

The Purpose of the ISM Code

This area particularly covers all aspects the ship management operations:

  • Navigation
  • Cargo operations
  • Machinery or engine rooms operations
  • Emergency preparations or plan of actions
  • Contingency planning
  • Reports and analysis of occurrences of non-conformities and any unfavorable incidents
  • Testing, inspection, and maintenance of equipment/machinery
  • Recruiting, selection, and further crew training/education
  • Control of all documentation
  • Supplying of stores and spare parts, etc.



Like any other guidelines or standards in different fields, the ISM Code has also gone through a series of amendments. Before the latest version – ISM Code Consolidated 2010 Edition, here’s a view to the ISM Code History.


  • October 19, 1989 – IMO A. 647(16) Guidelines on Safety Management
  • November 6, 1991 – IMO A. 680(17) Guidelines on Safety Management
  • November 4, 1993 – IMO A. 741(18) International Management Code for Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention
  • May 1994 – the ISM Code becomes mandatory in the new chapter IX of SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea)
  • 2000 Amendments MSC.104(73)
  • 2004 Amendments MSC.179(79)
  • 2005 Amendments MSC.195(80)
  • July 2002 -another Revision made to the ISM Code

  • SOLAS Chapter 9 – Management for the safe operation of ships

This particular chapter implies the mandate of the International Safety Management Code that requires a safety management system. Essentially, to be established by the owner of the ship or any person or party that take responsibility for the ship or vessel.

  • 2010 – the ISM Code Consolidated Edition



Indeed, the shipping company is duty-bound to make sure that they are not just recognizing but properly enforcing the ISM Code onboard the ship. Thus, the marine company must appoint a safety officer that must carry out this responsibility to administer all significant information on a regular basis.

By strictly adhering to the safety standards under the ISM Code, ensuring the safety of life at sea and its environment is more feasible. As a matter of fact, applying the rules of ISM Code also provides advantages to the shipping company in many ways.