The International Safety Management (ISM) Code is a set of international guidelines which all commercially registered yachts over 500 gross tonnes must adhere to. It was set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to ensure safety at sea, prevent human injury or loss of life and avoid damage to the marine environment.
Why was the ISM Code established in the first place?
The ISM code was established following a series of serious shipping accidents in the 1980s, which resulted in loss of lives, damage to the ships and pollution to the environment. The cause of these accidents was a combination of human error on board and management failings on shore. The maritime industry needed a big change to prevent those type of accidents being a regular occurrence.
What does the ISM Code mean for Yacht Owners and operators?
The ISM Code requires owners and operators of ships to implement a Safety Management System (SMS) to ensure compliance with rules and regulations related to the objectives of the Code and the effective implementation and enforcement thereof by Flag State Administrations. Each company’s SMS should include:
- A safety and environmental protection policy
- Instructions and procedures to ensure safe operation of ships and protection of the environment
- Defined levels of authority and lines of communication
- Procedures for reporting accidents and non-conformities (which are ‘identifiable deviations that pose a serious threat to the safety of the personnel/ship or a serious risk to the environment and require immediate corrective action’).
- Procedures to prepare for and respond to emergency situations
- Procedures for internal audits and management reviews.
Who needs a Safety Management System (SMS)?
As we mentioned above, all commercially registered yachts over 500 gross tonnes must adhere to the full ISM Code. Commercial vessels under 500 gross tonnes but over 24 meters should adhere to what’s known as ‘mini-ISM’ – a safety management system that complies with the requirements of their Flag State.
Setting up an effective Safety Management System can be a rather difficult task, which is why using an experienced professional management company is of paramount importance. Divergent Yachting’s SMS is approved by the relevant Flag States under which the yachts operate, which then issue a Document of Compliance (DOC) authorising Divergent Yachting to operate the ISM system.
Although SMS is not obligatory for private yachts under 500 gross tonnes, we have been finding that more and more private yachts choose voluntary compliance to improve overall safety onboard and environmental standards.
How we can help
At Divergent Yachting our primary goal is not to ‘manage’ the captain and crew – we know they are already competent – but rather ‘support’ them in the best way possible with a safe and efficient running of their superyacht.
We understand that every client has different requirements, hence we offer ‘Full Support’ or ‘Modular Support’ services to ensure compliance with the ISM Code:
- An appointed Designated Person Ashore (DPA) who serves as a link between the company and onboard personnel and has direct access to the highest level of management. The DPA monitors all safety and pollution-prevention aspects of the ship operation and ensures that adequate resources and onshore support are applied.
- 24/7 Emergency Response and Shore based ‘Emergency Response Team’ (ERT)
- Allocated Yacht Manager to deal with all ISM related duties
- Arranging all Class, Flag and Radio Surveys
- Attending yachts prior to Audit/Survey to carry out Pre-Audit/Survey check
- Attending all Class and Flag Surveys
- Liaising with yachts to ‘close out’ any Non-Conformities/Observations
- Liaising with Flag, Class and other regulatory agencies on behalf of the yacht
- Ensure all ISM/ISPS/MLC certificates & all yacht certificates remain in date – Flag, Class and other Certs with expiry/renewal
- Attest that all potential crew for hire are correctly certified for position onboard
- Maintain management software database, which has been specifically designed for Divergent Yachting.
A failure to comply with the ISM code might have an impact on the owner’s insurance contracts, as well as the shipowner’s diligence to provide a seaworthy ship.
To get in touch with us to discuss any aspects of yacht management, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to see if we can help.
The article has been written by Divergent Yachting Compliance Manager Tania Pilcher.