The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) is generally regarded as the most important of all international treaties concerning the safety of merchant ships.
The first version was adopted in 1914, in response to the Titanic disaster, the second in 1929, the third in 1948 and the fourth in 1960.
The 1960 Convention – which was adopted on 17 June 1960 and entered into force on 26 May 1965 – was the first major task for IMO after the Organisation’s creation and it represented a considerable step forward in modernizing regulations and in keeping pace with technical developments in the shipping industry.
The intention was to keep the Convention up to date by periodic amendments but in practice the amendments procedure incorporated proved to be very slow. It became clear that it would be impossible to secure the entry into force of amendments within a reasonable period of time.
The main objective of the SOLAS Convention is to specify minimum standards for the construction, equipment and operation of ships, compatible with their safety. Flag States are responsible for ensuring that ships under their flag comply with its requirements, and a number of certificates are prescribed in the Convention as proof that this has been done.
SOLAS and Amendments July 2014 (14kb PDF)