When it comes to Safety of Life at Sea, commonly known as SOLAS, the ISM codes are among the most confusing topics of all time. Most seafarers and shore staff feel that the ISM Code has only introduced more and more paperwork and nothing substantial. But ISM code has its respective impact and effectiveness and these have been widely embraced as a positive step toward improved efficiency. Treating ISM Code as a positive step can only happen when one can understand ISM code and its respective elements. In this blog, we are going to discuss some of the essential ISM Code elements.

Company – As Per ISM Code

Company is simply described as the owner of a vessel or any other organization or person or the charterer who undertakes the responsibility of ship operation from the shipowner. Someone who has agreed to take over all the responsibilities and duties set by the Code. “A Company can be the owner of the ship, Bareboat Charterer, or Any other organization.” Most importantly, A Company is an organization that has taken over all the duties and responsibilities as set by the ISM Code.

Company’s Responsibilities

When it comes to ISM Code, it is all about the Company. If you read the ISM Code carefully, you will find out that each line of the code starts with a direction to the Company – “Company is Responsible” or “Company should”. Some examples –
  • “The Company should define and document the responsibility, authority, and interrelation of all personnel who manage, perform and verify work relating to and affecting safety and pollution prevention.”
  • “The Company is responsible for ensuring that adequate resources and shore-based support are provided to enable the designated person or persons to carry out their functions.”
Even for the responsibilities of the Master, it is not directed to the Master rather the Company.

Internal Auditing

Do you know how you can determine a good ship management company? With effective Internal Auditing. ISM Code has mandated that the Internal Audit of every ship/vessel must be conducted every 12 months at the minimum. Who according to the ISM Code is ideal to conduct an Internal Audit? For internal auditing, trained auditors who are professionally trained to conduct audits are formally deployed.

Certifications as Per ISM

ISM Code has mandated 2 statutory certificates-
  • Safety Management System Certificate for Vessel
  • Document of Compliance for the Company
The Document of Compliance is issued by the Flag State to the Company. It can even be issued by the Classification Society (behalf of the Flag State). This is issued only after a successful audit which verifies that the company complies with all the ISM Code requirements. The Safety Management Certificate is issued to the vessel/ship. This is issued only after there is verification done for the given elements:
  • Safety management is in place and is in ISM Code compliance
  • Safety management system being implemented and followed meticulously on board

Master’s Review

One major responsibility of Master as per the ISM Code is to review the effectiveness of the Safety Management System on board. The ISM Code does not mention any time frame for the particular review but as per a general understanding, it should be done annually. While ISM has been criticized a lot for bringing substantial amounts of paperwork with comparatively lesser gains but it is the implementation where the fault lies. Industry experts have said that if implemented properly, it can reap great benefits. Sinotech Marine‘s global network of certified internal auditors for ISM/ISPS/MLC audits provides a high-quality reliable audit service to our client. We cover all aspects of the implementation of company policies and procedures to verify onboard the vessel during the audit. We first understand the company ISM/ISPS/MLC procedure and previous audit reports to clearly define the objectives from the Audit.