Of all the international conventions dealing with maritime safety, the most important is the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, better known as SOLAS, which covers a wide range of measures designed to improve the safety of shipping.
The convention is also one of the oldest of its kind: the first version was adopted in 1914 following the sinking of the Titanic with the loss of more than 1,500 lives. Since then there have been four more versions of SOLAS. The present version was adopted in 1974 and entered into force in 1980.
In order to provide an easy reference to all SOLAS requirements applicable from 1 July 2004, this edition presents a consolidated text of the Convention, its Protocols of 1978 and 1988 and all amendments in effect from that date.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO), which met for the first time in 1959, is the specialized agency of the United Nations devoted to maritime affairs. Its main interests can be summed up in the phrase SAFE, SECURE AND EFFICIENT SHIPPING ON CLEAN OCEANS.
Over the years, IMO has developed and promoted the adoption of more than 40 conventions and protocols as well as over 1,000 codes and recommendations dealing with maritime safety, the prevention of pollution at sea and other matters. The most important of these are mandatory for ships engaged in the international trade, and even the recommendations are often universal in their impact.
To ensure that its measures are properly implemented worldwide, IMO operates a technical co-operation programme, provides consultancy and advisory services, arranges individual training through fellowships and general training through a number of institutions, and disseminates information on its activities by means of an extensive publishing programme.