International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea

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possibly the most important of all international treaties affecting merchant shipping. The first SOLAS convention was adopted in 1914 as a result of the Titanic disaster, and was followed by the second in 1929, the third in 1948, and the fourth in 1960. The 1960 convention became effective in May 1965 and was the first major task for IMCO, now the International Maritime Organization, after its foundation. It represented a significant advance in the modernization of regulations for the shipping industry.

The original idea had been to keep the convention up to date by periodical amendments, but this proved impracticable if the amendments were to be brought into force within a reasonable period of time. A new convention, which took in all the amendments up to that time, was adopted in 1974 and a new procedure, known as the tacit amendment procedure—which ensured that changes could be brought into force without undue delay—was adopted. This provided for the adoption of any amendment by a certain date unless objections were received from a set number of parties. The 1974 convention, known as SOLAS 1974, has been amended several times.

Among matters that come under the jurisdiction of the convention are traffic separation schemes and revisions to the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, commonly known as the Colregs.

Mike Richey

Subjects: Maritime History.

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