Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)
•Passenger vessels and vessels over 300 tons are required to comply with the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) treaty of 1974. The original version of this treaty, enacted in 1941, was in response to the sinking of the RMS Titanic.
Today's treaty and implementation still focus on responding to vessels
in distress, but automatic rescue beacons and satellite communications
have replaced the historic Morse code keys and manually fired flares.
This Treaty and its implementation were the first major tasks after the
International Maritime Organization was created in 1960. The SOLAS
process recognized the accelerating rate of technical development in
seafaring. The IMO knew it needed to keep the Convention up to date,
but the traditional amendments procedure for international treaties
were too slow to keep up with the needs of safety of life. In 1974, a
new Convention, the current one, which adopted the prior amendments
but was the first major task for IMO after the Organization's
creation and it represented a considerable step forward in modernizing
regulations and in keeping pace with technical developments in the
The intention was to keep the Convention up to date by periodic
amendments but in practice the amendments procedure 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.
As a result, a completely new Convention was adopted in 1974 which
included not only the amendments agreed up until that date but a new
amendment procedure - the tacit acceptance procedure - designed to
ensure that changes could be made within a specified (and acceptably
short) period of time.
- •SOLAS now requires that Inmarsat C equipment have an integral satellite navigation receiver, or be externally connected to a satellite navigation receiver. That connection will ensure accurate location information to be sent to a rescue coordination center if a distress alert is ever transmitted.