The background for the introduction of the ISM code is the accident with the ro-ro ferry “Herald of Free Enterprise” off “Zeebrugge” in Belgium on the March 5th 1987. 193 people died in the accident. Investigations initiated after the accident revealed that the direct cause of the accident was the last in a series of shortcomings both by vessel crew and shore management.
The purpose of the ISM code is to provide an international standard for the safe management and operation of ships and for pollution prevention. What is defined as “the company” in the code is responsible for establishing a safety management system which includes safety-management objectives and policies.
“The company” is responsible for ensuring that the vessel is operated according to rules and regulations and that it is manned with sufficient personnel to ensure safe operation.
Both the vessel and the shore organisation is certified in accordance with the code and the certificate is renewed yearly.