Acronym for Safety of Life at Sea Convention. An international convention, the result of the first International Conference on the Safety of Life at Sea, convened in London, England on November 12, 1913, as a direct result of the Titanic disaster.
The SOLAS Convention in its successive forms is regarded as the most important of all international treaties concerning the safety of merchant ships. The first version was signed on January 30, 1914 by representatives of the world’s maritime powers.
The convention provided for the International Ice Patrol and included minimum standards for radio communications and lifesaving equipment on passenger ships. New versions were adopted in 1929, 1948, 1960 and 1974.
The 1960 Convention, which was adopted on June 17, 1960 and entered into force on May 26, 1965, was the first major task for the International Maritime Organization (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 shipping industry.
A completely new Convention was adopted in 1974, which included not only amendments agreed up until that date but a new amendment procedure–the tacit acceptance procedure–deigned to ensure that changes could be made within a specified (and acceptably short) period of time.
As a result, the 1974 Convention has been updated and amended on numerous occasions. The Convention in force today is sometimes referred to as SOLAS, 1974, as amended. For information contact the International Maritime Organization at www.imo.org.