Application of The ISM Code on Passenger Ships and Impact on The Loss of Human Lives At Sea Over The Past 35 Years

  1. José Agustín González Almeida
  2. Federico Padrón Martín
  3. Alexis Dionis Melián
  4. Juan Imeldo Gómez Gómez
  5. Maria del Cristo Adrián de Ganzo
  6. José Manuel Calvilla Quintero
Journal of maritime research: JMR

ISSN: 1697-4840

Year of publication: 2016

Volume: 13

Issue: 2

Pages: 39-44

Type: Article


On March 6, 1987, the RO-RO ship Herald of Free Enterprise sailed from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, with the bow door unlocked because of negligence on the part of the crew. After leaving the port, exactly 90 seconds, the water came in great amount in the hold for vehicles, causing the heel of the ship. In a few minutes, the ship is lying on its starboard side, causing the loss of 193 people. The official investigation showed that the management of the safety of their vessels by the shipping company had not been adapted, so that following this event and other high impact accidents in the maritime field, the International Maritime Organization through Resolution A.741 (18), approves the ISM Code on November 4, 1993, mandatory for all vessels with the entry into force of Chapter IX of SOLAS (International Safety Management Code) as it demonstrates that over 80% of accidents on vessels are due to human factors. We proceed to list a number of selected by the number of victims and high impact on public opinion accidents. This is therefore a preliminary work that will form the basis for further study. We want, by analyzing a few cases after the accident Herald of Free Enterprise, if the implementation of the ISM Code has achieved the goals that had initially set; mainly “to ensure safety at sea, prevention of human injury or loss of life, and avoidance of damage to the environment, in particular, to the marine environment, and to property”. After this review, we can conclude if a change as important as the ISM code standard is necessary.