Estonia

The current SOLAS convention was adopted in 1974 and came into force on 25th May 1980.  This version included a far simpler system for amendments which, in effect, said that instead of every amendment having to wait for acceptance by two thirds of the parties, amendments would enter into force by a certain date unless there were objections from an agreed number of parties. The result of this smoother system has been a series of amendments right up to the present day.  Some have been in response to specific occurrences such as disasters to passenger ferries like the 1988 amendment following the sinking of the “Herald of Free Enterprise” and the 1995 amendments following the sinking of the “Estonia”. Other amendments are made to keep pace with technological developments including, for example, changes in the way of transmitting distress signals and the fact that radio direction-finding equipment is no longer mandatory A significant addition to marine safety, which was developed separately from SOLAS was the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers 1978 (STCW).  It came into force on 28th April 1984. The 1978 STCW Convention was the first to establish basic requirements on training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers on an international level. Previously the standards of training, certification and watchkeeping of officers and ratings were established by individual governments, usually without reference to practices in other countries. As a result standards and procedures varied widely, even though shipping is the most international of all industries.