Different kind of Maritime Regulations on Your Ship starts with the big foundation laid down by the IMO and a little by the ILO. These minimum technical standards for a ship are the protocols like SOLAS, MARPOL, Load Line, ISM, ISPS etc… and of course the MLC2006 from the ILO. As you already can guess: on top of this foundation other parties will add their regulations.
Regions, like EU
The first adding on top of this minimum standard are regulations from the regions. The EU for example has additional regulations such as the wheel mark. Ships build under
a flag with belongs to the EU has to use for the safety equipment, equipment which is part of the MED (Marine Equipment Directive).
This MARED is an agreement between the different flag States of the EU and this mechanisms of testing equipment which belong to the safety certificate is to achieve
prevention of new barriers to trade, mutual recognition and technical harmonization. Although flag stated should test themselves, they don’t do this anymore and the administration appoint a notified body to test equipment on their behalves. Because of the common wheel mark and EU regulation this equipment can also be used on ships with a home town from another EU Administration.
Regions can also appoint common waters where more regulations apply, such as for MARPOL VI.
The flags States has to follow whatever they have ratified in the basic regulations from the IMO and ILO. They also have to follow the agreements in their region. But still several
administrations will have additional regulations on top of this.
Most of the time this is only on some subjects like the quantity and place of survival suits, life vests, swimming pool, hospitals, out phasing of Freon’s and placing additional electrical emergency stops. The additional regulations of the different flags States are more and less comparable with each other.
The difference between the flag States nowadays is the ratification of the different conventions. Of course the other difference is their national law system which is more relevant for tax purposes
but can have some influence on the ships crew also.
The class societies has their own set of rules which are more or less concentrated on the construction of the hull, electrical and mechanical parts. This will cover the safety construction
part from SOLAS. These SOLAS regulations are getting tougher since 1982 each year. Most of those has an impact on the construction part because of disasters with several ships, especially passengers roll-on roll-off and tankers.
The classification society may also have some additional rules about e.g. fire fighting equipment or the strength calculation of a CO2 bottle.
As soon as some parts of the SOLAS will be renewed, most of class societies will adopt these new SOLAS regulations in their rules.
Although the classification society is a different rule system than the flag regulation system, in practise the differences on the construction side becomes smaller and smaller.
The owner or ship management is free in choosing the flag and the classification society. With more then 150 flag States and 50 classification societies they have a wide variety and with different arguments on choosing the minimum standards will be set for the technical maintenance of the ship and the living conditions of the crew. In practice however it is the ship management or owner who determines what the minimum standard of a ship is.
The implementation of ISM, ISPS and MLC are owner or management related. The operation of a ship is purely related to the ship management. An example is the safe manning certificate, although the certificate is from the flag State, it is in principle a document which is filed by the ships management to the administration for approval. Outsourcing of maintenance can be of influence on this kind of decisions.
Another factor for the owner or ships management can be the charter or the vetting. Even the insurance can have some influence on the maintenance level of the owner.
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