Q. (a) Write shot notes on Casualty investigation and IMO member state audit scheme.

(b) State the applicable regulations of SOLAS and MARPOL under which it is mandatory for a flag state to conduct an investigation into any ‘casualty’. Write briefly the salient points of Casualty Investigation Code and the recommended practices for a safety investigation into a Marine Casualty or Marine Incident. What do you understand by the term “very serious marine casualty”?

Answer :-

Casualty Investigation Code:

  • Under SOLAS regulation I/21 and MARPOL articles 8 and 12, each Administration undertakes to conduct an investigation into any casualty occurring to ships under its flag subject to those conventions and to supply the Organization with pertinent information concerning the findings of such investigations. Article 23 of the Load Lines Convention also requires the investigation of casualties.
  • Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), article 94 on Duties of the flag State, paragraph 7, “Each State shall cause an inquiry to be held by or before a suitably qualified person or persons into every marine casualty or incident of navigation on the high seas involving a ship flying its flag and causing loss of life or serious injury to nationals of another State or serious damage to ships or installations of another State or to the marine environment. The flag State and the other State shall co-operate in the conduct of any inquiry held by that other State into any such marine casualty or incident of navigation.”
  • IMO adopted a new Code of International Standards and Recommended Practices for a Safety Investigation into a Marine Casualty or Marine Incident (Casualty Investigation Code) when the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) met in London, for its 84th session in May 2008.
  • Relevant amendments to SOLAS Chapter XI-1 were also adopted, to make parts I and II of the Code mandatory. Part III of the Code contains related guidance and explanatory material.
  • The new regulations, entered into force on 1 January 2010 and expand on SOLAS regulation I/21, which only required Administrations to undertake to conduct an investigation of any casualty occurring to any of its ships “when it judges that such an investigation may assist in determining what changes in the present regulations might be desirable”. The Code now requires a marine safety investigation to be conducted into every “very serious marine casualty”, defined as a marine casualty involving the total loss of the ship or a death or severe damage to the environment.
  • Resolutions : Participation in Official Inquiries into Maritime Casualties , Conduct of Investigations into Casualties, Exchange of Information for Investigations into Marine
  • Casualties (also to consider investigation of human factors), Personnel and Material Resource Needs of Administrations for the Investigation of Casualties and the Contravention of Conventions, Co-operation in Maritime Casualty Investigations, Guidelines to assist investigators in the implementation of the Casualty Investigation Code
  • The activity of the groups on casualty analysis is based on the Casualty analysis procedure, which includes a process of analysis of casualty investigation reports, graphic representation of the typical flow of casualty information, procedures for evaluating safety issues that need further consideration, a graphic representation of the process to validate a safety issue and assignment of estimated risk level and a diagram of the casualty analysis process.
  • The Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS) includes a Maritime Casualties and Incidents module database, which includes data on Maritime Casualties and Incidents (MCI), as defined by circularsMSC-MEPC.3/Circ.3/Rev.1. This GISIS module also covers all casualty analysis which were approved by FSI Sub-Committee for their release to the public on the GISIS module, where they can be accessed. GISIS also comprise a Contact Point module where it is possible to search for the flag State contact points for PSC matters, Casualty investigation services & Ships inspection services (comprising Secretariats of Memoranda of Understanding on Port State Control).

Resolution MSC.255 (84) – Acceptance of the Code of the International Standards & Recommended Practices for a Safety Investigation into a Marine Casualty or Marine Incident (Casualty Investigation Code) – (Accepted on 16 May 2008)

SOLAS Regulation XI-1/ 6 – Additional criteria for the investigation of maritime casualties & incidents:

Considering regulation I/21, each Administration shall conduct investigations of marine casualties & incidents, in compliance with the provisions of the present Convention, as supplemented by the provisions of the Code of the International Standards & Recommended Practices for a Safety Investigation into a Marine Casualty or Marine Incident (Casualty Investigation Code) accepted by the resolution MSC.255(84), and:

1) the provisions of parts I & II of the Casualty Investigation Code shall be fully complied with;

2) the related guidance & explanatory material contained in part III of the Casualty Investigation Code should be considered to the greatest possible extent in order to achieve a more uniform implementation of the Casualty Investigation Code;

3) amendments to parts I & II of the Casualty Investigation Code shall be accepted, brought into force & take effect in compliance with the provisions of article VIII of the present Convention relating to the amendment procedures applicable to the annex other than chapter I; &

4) part III of the Casualty Investigation Code shall be amended by the Maritime Safety Committee in compliance with its rules of procedure.

 Under SOLAS:

CH 1 Regulation 21: each administration shall undertake to conduct an investigation of any casualties occurring to any of its ships subject to the provision of present convention when it judges that such an investigation may assist in determining what changes in present regulation may be desirable

MARPOL: Articles of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973 (Articles of 1978 came later)

Article 12: Casualties to ships-

  • To harmonize the casualty investigation a code was adopted on 27th November 1997 in IMO resolution A849 (20) called casualty investigation code.
  • The salient features of the code.

Necessity of code:-

  • It was acknowledged that the investigation and proper analysis of marine casualties and incidents can lead to greater awareness of casualty causation and result in remedial measures including better training to enhance safety of life at sea and protection of environment.
  • It was also recognized that a standard approach and cooperation between governments, to marine casualty and incident investigation is necessary to correctly identify the cause


Objective to any marine casualty investigation is to prevent similar casualties in future

Who will do the investigation:-

  • Flag state has to carry investigation in all casualties occurring to its ship.
  • If casualty occurs in territorial sea of a state, then flag state and coastal state should cooperate to maximum extent and mutually decide who will be the lead investigating state.
  • If casualty occurs at high seas then flag state has to carry out investigation. But if the casualty involves other parties or affects environment of other state, then all substantially interested state should work together and decide who will be the lead investigating state

Consultation and cooperation between states:-

  • If casualty has taken place in territorial water of any state then the coastal state should without delay report the matter to flag state.
  • Also if the casualty involves other parties all substantially interested parties to be informed by investigating state.

When two or more states have agreed to the procedure for a marine casualty investigation, the state conducting the investigation should allow representative of the other state to:-

a) Question witness

b) view and examine documents and evidence

c) Produce witness and other evidence

d) Comment on & have their views properly reflected in final report.

e) Be provided with transcripts statement & final report relating to investigation.

Recommended practice for the safety investigation:-

  • Part III Of the code (Chapter 15 to Chapter 26 )
  • Ch15 – Administrative Responsibilities
  • Ch16 – Principles Of Investigation
  • Ch17- Marine Casualties Other than Very serious
  • Ch18- Agreement ( Under Ch 7 of Part II ) conditions between parties and factors to be consider
  • Ch19- Acts Of Unlawful interference
  • Ch20- Notify Parties involved & Start Investigation
  • Ch21- Co-Ordinating An Investigation
  • Ch22-Collection Of Evidence
  • Ch23- Confidentiality Of Info
  • Ch24- Protection Of Witness & Involved Parties
  • Ch25- Draft & Final Report
  • Ch26- Re Opening Investigation

a) Investigation should be thorough & unbiased.

b) Cooperation between substantially interested states.

c) It should be given same priority as criminal or other investigation.

d) Investigator should have ready access to relevant safety information including survey records held by flag state , owner, class etc.

e) Effective use should be made of all recorded data including the VDR in the investigation of casualty.

f) Investigator should have approach to government surveyors, coastguard officers, pilot or other marine personnel of respective states.

g) Investigator should take account of any recommendation published by IMO or ILO regarding human factor.

h) Reports of investigation are most effective when circulated to the shipping industry and public.

Reporting to IMO:-

  • After investigation the lead investigating state should circulate draft report to coastal state and substantially interested state for comments.
  • If no comment is received within 30 days lead state should send the final report to IMO.
  • Very serious marine casualty means a ship casualty which involves total loss of ship, loss of life or severe pollution

IMO Member state audit scheme: i.e Flag State Audit by IMO

  • For comprehensive and objective assessment of how effectively a party administers and implements mandatory IMO instruments which are covered by the Scheme.
  • May 2014 made mandatory the use of the IMO Instruments Implementation Code (III Code) and auditing of Parties to those treaties:

SOLAS, 1974, as amended (adding a new chapter XIII) Verification of compliance Makes mandatory from 1 January 2016 the IMO Member State Audit Scheme.

  • (STCW) Code
  • Load Lines Protocol), as amended.
  • COLREG 1972
  • TONNAGE 1969
  • MARPOL Annexes I through to VI.

The amendments will make the auditing of Member States mandatory, once they enter into force in 2016.


  • Will know the short comings of the parties and where IMO can help in capacity-building activities
  • The Member States themselves would receive valuable feedback, intended to assist them in improving their own capacity to put the applicable instruments into practice; and
  • generic lessons learnt from audits could be provided to all Member States so that the benefits could be widely shared.
  • Moreover, the results of the audits could be systematically fed back into the regulatory process at IMO to help make measurable improvements in the effectiveness of the international regulatory framework of shipping. SCHEME addresses :
  • Issues such as conformance in enacting appropriate legislation for the IMO instruments to which a Member State is a Party;
  • the implementation and enforcement of the applicable laws and regulations by the Member State;
  • the delegation of authority to recognized organizations (ROs); the related control and monitoring mechanism of the survey and certification processes by the Member States.