Companies operating vessels with 12 or fewer passengers had to comply with a new regulation from1 January 2011. The Norwegian Maritime Authority estimates that more than 200 vessels will be affected by the new regulation.

This regulation represents a new way of thinking, in the sense that existing arrangements for inspection and certification are revoked. Instead, there will now be a requirement that the company behind the operation of the vessel (the ship-owner) must establish a system of safety management which must document that the requirements of the regulation are met and that safety is assessed based on the vessel, its speed, rescue equipment, etc.
The shipowners had to have this in place within 1 July 2011.

Once a year, the company must perform an internal control of the safety management system and internal procedures. This shall be performed according to a special control form. The Norwegian Maritime Authority may at any time require documentation that the internal control has taken place.

Who is subject to the regulation?

The regulation only applies to vessels engaged in commercial traffic. However, it does not apply to:

  • scheduled traffic
  • organized medical and ambulance service
  • organized school transport

What must be documented?

The safety management system should as a minimum:

  • describe the activities of the vessel
  • describe the area of operation
  • describe risk factors for crew and passengers, and the existing plans and measures to reduce these factors
  • have a system for recording incidents and the measures that can prevent such incidents from happening again
  • describe the vessel, its technical specifications and equipment
  • include procedures for maintenance