What ships does the MLC, 2006 apply to?

  • The MLC, 2006 defines a ship in Article II, paragraph (1)(i) as
  • “a ship other than one which sails only in internal waters or waters within, or closely adjacent to, sheltered waters or areas where port regulations apply”.
  • The MLC, 2006 applies to all ships as so defined, whether publicly or privately owned, that are ordinarily engaged in commercial activities except (see Article II, paragraph 4):
  • ships engaged in fishing or in similar activities;
  • ships of conventional build, such as dhows & junks;
  • warships or naval auxiliaries.
  • The MLC, 2006 recognizes (Article II, paragraph 5) that there may be situations where there is doubt as to whether it applies to a ship or particular type of ships. In the event of doubt, the national competent authority should make a verification on the question after consultation with the shipowners’ & seafarers’ organizations concerned.
  • Information about any national determinations that have been made must be communicated to the Director-General of the ILO.
  • There is no general tonnage restriction to the MLC, 2006. However, there is some flexibility which can be applied by a flag State regarding the application of particular requirements based on the gross tonnage of ships.
  • E.g., the requirement for certification (in addition to inspection) of working and living conditions on a ship is not mandatory for ships less than 500 GT that do not go on international voyages or voyage between foreign ports. I
  • In connection with the on-board accommodation requirements there is some flexibility based on the gross tonnage of the ships concerned.

Who is the shipowner under the MLC, 2006?

The MLC, 2006 defines a shipowner as

  • The owner or possessor of the ship/another corporation/person, such as the manager, agent/bareboat charterer, who has assumed the responsibility for the operation of the ship from the owner & who, on accepting such responsibility, has agreed to take over the duties and responsibilities imposed on shipowners in accordance with the Convention ….
  • This definition covers even if any other organizations or persons fulfill certain of the duties or responsibilities on behalf of the shipowner.
  • This comprehensive definition was adopted to reflect the idea that, irrespective of the particular commercial or other arrangements regarding a ship’s operations, there should be a single entity, the shipowner, who is accountable for seafarers living & working conditions.
  • This idea is also considered in the requirement that all seafarers’ employment agreements must be signed by the shipowner or a representative of the shipowner