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Chartering requirements and regulations

Chartering requirements and regulations

ISM Code explained

The International Safety Management Code (ISM) was introduced by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and came into force on commercially operated charter yachts over 500GT in July 2002. It provides an international standard for the safe management and operation of ships, and for pollution prevention.

The code recognizes that no two shipping companies or yacht owners are the same, and that yachts and ships operate under a wide range of different conditions. The cornerstone of good safety management is commitment from the top. In matters of safety and pollution prevention, the commitment, competence, attitudes and motivation of individuals at all levels that determine the end result.

Setting up Safety and Security Management Systems for the first time can be daunting, which is why the use of an experienced professional management consultant is essential. The goal is to provide to the yacht’s owner and captain a cost-effective management system that complies with all aspects of the code while remaining simple and straightforward.

Owners should demand that the system and plan be accepted by all major Flag States and administrations.

ISM clearly defines the responsibilities of the master and manager, including the master’s overriding authority. The owning company (owner) appoints a designated person (company) ashore who is responsible for all safety matters on the vessel.

International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS)

For years, security at sea has been a concern of governments, port authorities and the owners of every kind of vessel.

The terrorist attacks of 11 September, 2001 provided a catalyst for formalizing new security measures. The IMO subsequently adopted new regulations to enhance maritime security through amendments to SOLAS Chapters V and XI.

This is a set of mandatory security measures and procedures designed to prevent acts of terrorism that might threaten the security and safety and crew, passengers, yachts, ships and ports. It has been adopted into the national law of more than 150 countries.

The requirements currently apply to all commercial yachts of 500GT and up and port facilities serving such vessels engaged on international voyages. They form a framework through which ships and port facilities can co-operate to detect and deter acts that pose a threat to maritime security.

In summary, the ISPS Code:

Enables the detection and deterrence of security threats within an international framework,
Establishes the respective roles and responsibilities for the crew and company,
Enables collection and exchange of security information,
Provides a methodology for assessing security, and
Ensures that adequate port and ship security measures are in place.
It also requires ship and port facility staff to:

Gather and assess information,
Maintain communication protocols,
Control port access to prevent the introduction of unauthorized weapons, etc.,
Provide the means to raise alarms,
Put in place vessel and port security plans; and,
Ensure training and drills are conducted.
Although the ISPS Code is designed to enhance the safety and security of passengers, yachts and ports, it will inevitably have an effect on the spontaneity and privacy that chartering has traditionally enjoyed, as passenger lists must be shared and luggage may be subject to search when entering a port.

Owning and operating a large yacht is just like owning and operating a business, only the views are better. Be prepared to ask questions and determine your priorities and you work through the list of decisions to be made.

Captain Kenneth S. Argent is the principal of Water’s Edge Consulting, a company providing ISM, ISPS, MCA, NTVRP and other regulatory solutions for independent large yachts and yacht management companies.

Originally published: Superyacht Owner’s Guide 2012

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