The regulations to prevent collisions provide for prescription of rules relating to a range of matters including lighting, steering, sailing routes and signals.  Owners and  masters must conform with the collision rules and not carry lighting or other signals which do not conform with the rules.  If an infringement of the rules is caused by wilful default of the master or owner of the ship, he is guilty of a serious offence.

If damage to persons or property is caused by breach of the rules, the damage is deemed to be caused by the wilful default of the person in charge of the deck of the ship at the time unless it is shown to the satisfaction of the court that the circumstances of the case justify a departure from the regulations.

The surveyor of ships may inspect ships to verify that they are in conformity with the regulations.  Orders may be made to remedy any immediate failure of compliance.  The certificate of conformity must cover matters in relation to lighting, signals etc.  as required by the rules.

In the case of a collision, the master of each ship is obliged to render assistance to the crew and passengers of the other vessel as is practicable and as may be necessary to save them from danger caused by the collision.  Each must give the names and details of the vessel to the other.  Failure to do so comprises a offence and may lead to loss of certification as a seaman.

After a collision the master of a ship must immediately enter a statement of the collision and circumstances in the log book unless it is impracticable to do so.

The Safety Convention applies internationally to countries which have accepted it.  The Merchant Shipping Safety Convention Act 1952 allows generally for the Minister to prescribe standards in relation to ships, including provisions in relation to collisions. Regulations include provisions for

  • prescribing numbers and construction of boats, life rafts, appliances, life jackets and lifebuoys.
  • The requisite equipment on each boat and raft.
  • Supply of lights.
  • Supply of buoyant apparatus.
  • Means of securing boats, lifebuoys, rafts, buoyant apparatus.
  • Manning of lifeboats and qualification of lifeboat men.
  • Suitable means of discharge of persons onto lifeboats.
  • Assignment of duties in the event of an emergency.
  • Boat and fire drills.
  • Methods for prevention, detection and extinction of fire.
  • Marking of boats and life rafts, lifebuoys and apparatus.
  • Provision of pilot ladders, ropes, lights and appliances.

Every owner of a ship must ensure that the ship is provided with the requisite life-saving appliances and that they are adapted for securing the safety of passengers and crew.

It is an offence to proceed to sea

  • without having the requisite appliances
  • If any appliances are lost or rendered unfit in the course of a voyage due to wilful fault, neglect, negligence of owner or master.
  • If they willfully neglect to repair them at the first opportunity.
  • If they are not kept so that they are at all times fit and ready for use.

Each of the above is an offence.

A surveyor may give notice in relation to failures of compliance with the rules relating to life-saving appliances.  He must specify the works required to rectify the position.  The ship may be detained until the requisite directions have been complied with.

Rules may be made regarding the carriage of dangerous goods.  Breach of the rules is an offence.

A person shall not attempt to send or a person not being a master or owner may not attempt to carry any dangerous goods without distinctly marking their nature on the outside of the package and giving written notice of their nature, name and address of sender to the master or crew in advance.

Dangerous goods includes gunpowder, nitroglycerin, petroleum, explosives, and other goods of a dangerous nature.  Dangerous goods may not be sent under a false description.  The master or owner of a vessel may refuse to take on board any package which he suspects contain dangerous goods.  He may require them to be opened.

Where dangerous goods have been sent, carried or attempted to be sent on a vessel, the goods may be declared forfeited by court.  The powers may be exercised notwithstanding that the owner has committed no offence or there is no evidence to show to the goods belong.

Most goods may not be carried as deck cargo unless they are carried in covered spaces on  certain specified classes of ship and loaded in accordance with regulation. There are prescribed conditions in relation to carriage of  goods.  There are regulations in relation to the size of  goods and where they are stored.

Regulations may be made for the protection of seamen from risks arising from carriage of goods in any uncovered space where this is permissible by way of exception.

In all contracts of employment of masters, seamen and apprentices there is to be implied an obligation on the owner of a ship, the master or person in-charge in  loading or preparing the ship for sea that they will use all reasonable means to ensure the seaworthiness of the ship for the voyage at the time when the voyage commences and the keeper in a seaworthy condition during the voyage.

This provision is not to place liability on an owner where a ship goes to sea in an unseaworthy state or owing to special circumstances this is reasonable and justifiable.  A ship may be detained where it is unsafe due to undermanning. The  provision does not apply to ships employed exclusively in inland trade.

Where a ship is unsafe by reason of the defective condition, loading or is otherwise unfit to proceed to sea without serious danger, it may be detained for the purpose of being surveyed, detained or released.  The ship may be released if it is shown to be safe or ordered to be detained if it is unsafe.  If there was no reasonable and probable cause for the detention, the authorities must pay compensation.

Where a complaint is made that a ship is in an unseaworthy condition, the authority may require that the complainant give security in relation to cost or compensation that may be ultimately payable if there is absence of reasonable and probable cause.  The person making the dangerous condition complaint may be obliged to pay the costs.

Security is not required in certain circumstances where complaints are made by a number of persons being seamen belonging to the ship and the complaint is not frivolous or vexatious.  Subject to the exceptions, person may be liable to pay the compensation which the Department must pay to the ship-owner in the event of the unjustified detention of the ship.

Where in a disciplinary proceeding against a seaman or apprentice for desertion or absence without leave, it is alleged by a certain proportion of the crew that the ship is unseaworthy, overloaded, improperly loaded, defective equipment, not in a fit condition to proceed, insufficient accommodation, the court may summons witnesses and consider whether the allegation has substance.  The court may require a surveyor to consider the matter if possible.  If the ship is not in a fit condition, the owner must pay the seaman or apprentice compensation for his detention.

The Minister, in consultation with the Department of Communication may make rules in relation to radio and navigational aids for ships. There are provisions for a radio log which must be maintained.  Radio installations in offices must comply with the rules.  Radio surveyors may be appointed. Passenger ships may be surveyed by radio surveyor

There are provisions providing for certificates issued in accordance with the safety convention in other countries as being accepted as equivalent to certification in the State.  The surveyor of ships may take the requisite inspection to verify the existence of the certificate and compliance with it and has the powers of an inspector of domestic ships.

A modified survey may be possible in respect of passenger ships holding a Convention certificate.  A more limited survey may be provided for.  Ships having Convention certificates not registered in the state are exempt from certain requirements of the legislation which would otherwise apply.

The master of the ship registered in the state and meeting with dangerous conditions,  tropical storm or direct danger to navigation must send information by all means of communication at its disposal to ships in the vicinity and authorities on shore as may be prescribed.  Failure to do so is an offence. On receipt of signals every person holding a chargeable wireless telegraphy station must reconvey the messages. Nothing is to prejudice transmission of the messages.

There are rules in respect of signals of distress.  It is an offence to misuse a signal of distress.

There is an obligation to assist vessels. The master of a ship registered in the state or receiving a signal of distress or information that a vessel or aircraft is in distress must proceed at all speed to assist the persons in distress, informing them if possible that he is doing so unless special circumstances make it unreasonable or unnecessary.

Where the master of a ship in distress has requisitioned any ship registered in the state that has answered his call, it is the duty of the master to comply with the requisition by continuing to proceed with all speed to the assistance of the persons in distress.  The master may be released if he is informed of the requisition of one or more ships other than his own that assistance is no longer required. Failure to assist as above is an offence. If the master cannot render the requisite assistance, he must enter a statement in the log book or equivalent record of the reasons for not going to assistance.

It is not lawful for a person on a ship registered in the State to wrongfully give orders regarding the direction of the period.  When ice is reported on or near the course, there is an obligation to proceed at moderate speed or change course and keep amply clear of it.  Ice must be reported.

Passenger ships crossing the North Atlantic must give public notice of their movement. Exemptions may be granted for certain ships and classes of ships in relation to requirements with the certain rules.

Where a ship which does not normally carry, undertake international voyage proposes to do so, exemptions may be granted from safety requirements on a one-off basis.

The Merchant Shipping Act 1966 provides the Minister with powers to prescribe rules for the hull, equipment and machinery of a cargo ship.  It applies to seagoing ships of not less than 500 tones and of such lower tonnage as may be prescribed other than passenger steamers, troop ships, pleasure yachts, fishing vessels and ships not propelled by electronic or mechanical means.

The general provisions applicable to surveys and safety requirements in respect of passenger ships apply in broadly similar terms to cargo ships.  There are equivalent provisions regarding survey of ships, prohibition on proceeding to sea without an appropriate certificate, exemptions, penalties for noncompliance and power to detain, rules on lifesaving appliances, rules on radio certificates.

The above rules are applied to passenger boats by the Merchant Shipping Act 1992.  A passenger boat is a vessel carrying not more than 12 passengers for reward.  A passenger ship is a vessel carrying more than 12 passengers for reward.

The Minister may make regulations in relation to the safety of fishing vessels, crews, persons suffering injury and damage from fishing boats and the use of fishing vessels so as not to cause a nuisance.

Fishing vessels of specified classes may be required to comply with standards of seaworthiness including

  • Comply with standards of construction and maintenance.
  • Carry specified lifesaving, fire-fighting, radio and navigation equipment.

Regulations may require the use of personal flotation devices. Provision may be made for periodic surveys of fishing vessels or classes thereof and their equipment.

Provision may be made for the prohibition of the use of fishing vessels that have not been surveyed in accordance with regulations or that following such survey are unsafe for use in fishing or angling in the sea or in freshwater and for appeals against findings.

Regulations may make provision for competence and testing of competence of skippers of vessels, whether by examination, interview or others.  It may prohibit those who do not reach the requisite standards of competency from working as such.  Similarly, standards may be prescribed for crews, and they may be prohibited from working unless they reached the requisite standards.

There is appeal to the District Court against declarations in a declaration of survey, refusal of a declaration of survey, revocation, suspension, refusal of certificate or licenses, revocation or suspension of licenses.

Where an owner of a vessel or a shared vessel is convicted of certain of the more serious offences, the vessel, its equipment, fittings and furnishings may be forfeited.


Important Notice! This website is provided for informational purposes only! It is a fundamental condition of the use of this website that no liability is accepted for any loss or damage caused by reason of any error, omission, or misstatement in its contents. 

Draft Articles; The articles on this website are in draft form and are subject to further review for typographical errors and, in some cases, updating and correction. It is intended to include references to the sources of materials and acknowledgements in the final version. The content of articles with [EU] in the title and some of the articles in the section on Agriculture are a reproduction of or are based on European or Irish public sector information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *