There is no easy way to learn to use SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea Convention). Learning SOLAS is hard and many hours needed to become proficient. In order to learn SOLAS, the first step is learning where to find the relevant materials. Learning where to find the relevant materials becomes easier with sections used on a day-to-day basis.
Second step is learning about legislation which is required for a special task that careful reading is required. Integrating with various IMO circulars and SOLAS codes is vital to ensure a correct interpretation of the part of SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea Convention) being used. When checking SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea Convention) for the correct interpretation, you should check what the flag state of the ship has put in place with its own national legislation, because this is what must be met. A maritime nation’s legislation might have the same or higher application as SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea Convention) but never less.
ISPS Code (International Ship and Port Facility Security) by itself has no mandatory application, but because ISPS Code is linked to a chapter of SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea Convention), ISPS Code does have mandatory application to SOLAS ships. Therefore, SOLAS makes the ISPS Code mandatory.
A ship must be engaged on an international voyage and be of convention size in order to be covered mandatorily by SOLAS. According to SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea Convention), ship size is not constant. Mandatory minimum gross tonnage GT (Gross Ton) is not constant and a ship manager must read the relevant application to ensure it is correct. According to SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea Convention), mandatory bulk carriers’ size is 500 GT (Gross Ton) and above. There have been many amendments since SOLAS introduced. SOLAS need to be read to ensure that the correct applications are made. SOLAS amendments can be checked in:
- MSC (Marine Safety Committee) circulars
- SOLAS published amendments
Amending SOLAS is a continuous process and reflects the work done at the IMO (International Maritime Organization). SOLAS amendments does not only apply to SOLAS only but to all publications.