The safety of life at sea is IMO's primary objective. Passenger ship safety has always, therefore, been a high priority. The Titanic disaster of 1912 led to the first SOLAS treaty being adopted and there have been many revisions to regulations since then, both in response to major incidents and as a result of a pro-active approach to keeping the regulations up-to-date.
Response to Costa Concordia incident
IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) responded quickly to the Costa Concordia incident of January 2012, agreeing interim recommended operational measures for passenger ships at its meeting in May 2012.
In November 2012, the MSC agreed that rules to require passenger safety drills to take place prior to, or immediately upon, departure should be made mandatory. It also updated the interim recommended measures and a long-term action plan.
In June 2013, the MSC adopted amendments SOLAS regulation III/19 to require musters of newly embarked passengers prior to or immediately upon departure, instead of “within 24 hours”, as stated in the current regulations. The amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2015. It also updated the long-term action plan and the interrim measures (MSC.1/Circ.1446/Rev.2), to include new recommendations relating to harmonization of bridge navigational procedures across a fleet or fleets; securing of heavy objects (procedures to ensure securing of heavy objects to be incorporated into the safety management system); stowage of life-jackets (including stowage of additional life jackets near muster stations); extending the use of video for passenger emergency instruction notices; and following voyage planning guidance in the case of any deviation.
Review of passenger ship safety - amendments adopted in 2006
In 2010, a package of SOLAS amendments adopted in 2006 entered into force, affecting passenger ships built after 1 July 2010. The amendments were the result of a comprehensive review of passenger ship safety initiated in 2000 with the aim of assessing whether the current regulations were adequate, in particular for the large passenger ships being built. Increased emphasis is placed on reducing the chances of accidents occurring and on improved survivability, embracing the concept of the ship "as its own best lifeboat".
Click here for article on the passenger ship safety initiative and the amendments adopted in 2006.