In the United States, U.S. flag vessels are subject to vessel safety and navigation regulations contained in 33 and 46 Code of Federal Regulations. Periodic inspections by the Coast Guard certify that the vessel is safe to operate.
In 1993 IMO adopted the International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention (the ISM Code). In 1998, the ISM Code became mandatory.
The Code establishes safety-management objectives and requires a safety management system (SMS) to be established by "the Company", which is defined as the shipowner or any person, such as the manager or bareboat charterer, who has assumed responsibility for operating the ship. The Company is then required to establish and implement a policy for achieving these objectives. This includes providing the necessary resources and shore-based support.
The procedures required by the Code should be documented and compiled in a Safety Management Manual, a copy of which should be kept on board.
On the Great Lakes and other internal waters where the ISM Code does not apply, companies have established internal safety policies that must be followed aboard each of their vessels. These internal policies address operational procedures that are not covered in federal regulation.
Independent Third Party Audits and Inspections
Audit Safety Management Systems
Audit Implementation of Company Policy
Conduct Preliminary Port State Control Type Inspections
Provide Expert Representation During Periodic Coast Guard Inspections