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Maritime safety: rules and standards for passenger ships

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The aim of this Directive is to establish a harmonised set of safety rules and standards for passenger ships engaged on domestic voyages and to lay down procedures for international negotiation with a view to harmonising the rules for passenger ships engaged on international voyages.

ACT

Council Directive 98/18/EC of 17 March 1998 on safety rules and standards for passenger ships [Official Journal L 144 of 15.05.1998].

SUMMARY

Directive 98/18/EC

This Directive was prompted by awareness, following the shipping accidents of recent years, of the need to improve the safety of maritime passenger transport.

The Directive applies to:

  • new passenger ships;
  • existing passenger ships of 24 metres in length and above;
  • high-speed passenger craft,

regardless of their flag, when engaged on domestic voyages.

It does not apply to passenger ships which are:

  • ships of war and troopships;
  • ships not propelled by mechanical means;
  • ships constructed in material other than steel or equivalent and not covered by the international standards concerning high-speed craft;
  • wooden ships of primitive build;
  • historical ships;
  • pleasure yachts;
  • ships exclusively engaged in port areas.

Passenger ships are divided into four classes A, B, C and D according to the sea area and distance from the coast within which they operate. A list of these sea areas is to be published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

High-speed passenger craft are also divided into several classes in accordance with the HSC Code ("International Code for Safety of High Speed Craft" adopted by the International Maritime Organisation - IMO).

All passenger ships and high speed passenger craft engaged on domestic voyages must comply with the rules laid down in the Directive.

Member States may not impair the freedom of operation of ships and craft complying with the requirements of the Directive and must recognise the certificates, permits and declarations of compliance issued by other Member States pursuant to the Directive.

Member States may, in their capacity as host State, inspect ships and craft engaged on domestic voyages and may audit their documentation, in accordance with Directive 95/21/EC.

The Directive lays down all the general safety requirements to be applied to new and existing passenger ships and to high speed passenger craft. These are:

  • rules common to all classes of new and existing passenger ships;
  • rules applicable to new passenger ships;
  • rules applicable to existing passenger ships;
  • rules applicable to high-speed passenger craft.

The Directive sets out additional safety requirements, equivalents, exemptions and safeguard measures which may be implemented provided the Commission is given prior notice:

  • additional safety requirements: under certain circumstances, additional safety measures may be adopted in view of local conditions;
  • equivalents: under certain circumstances, a Member State may allow equivalents provided they are at least as effective as the regulations laid down in the Directive;
  • exemptions: under certain circumstances, Member States may grant exemptions under the following operational limitations: smaller significant wave height, restricted year period, voyages only during daylight hours or under suitable weather conditions and restricted trip duration;
  • safeguard measures: possibility of suspending the operation of a ship in the event of serious danger to safety of life, property or the environment.

The Commission may amend the Directive in order to take account of developments at international level with regard to safety rules, particularly within the IMO.

The Commission is assisted by the committee set up by Directive 93/75/EEC.

New and existing passenger ships are subject to inspections to be carried out by surveyors from the administration of the flag State, a "recognised organisation" or the Member State authorised by the flag State to carry out surveys.

New and existing passenger ships must be provided with a safety certificate issued by the Administration of the flag State for a period of no more than one year and attesting to their conformity with the provisions of the Directive.

A safety certificate and an operating permit must also be issued to high-speed passenger craft complying with the requirements of the International Code for Safety of High Speed Craft.

The Directive sets up a negotiating mandate for the Commission within IMO, with a view to harmonising the regulations of the SOLAS Convention (international convention of 1974 on the safety of life at sea) applicable to passenger ships engaged on international voyages and making compulsory the application, within the IMO framework, of the principles laid down in MSC (IMO Maritime Safety Committee) Circular 606 on port State concurrence with SOLAS exemptions.

Directive 2003/24/EC

The purpose of this Directive is to tighten the safety rules and standards for passenger ships by establishing a uniform level of safety of life and property on new and existing passenger ships and high-speed passenger craft engaged on domestic voyages.

At the same time, the Directive lays down procedures for international negotiation to harmonise the rules for passenger ships engaged on international voyages. Directive 2003/24/EC requires appropriate measures to be taken to enable persons with reduced mobility to have safe access to passenger ships and high-speed passenger craft engaged on domestic voyages in the Member States.

Each Member State must compile and update a list of sea areas under its jurisdiction, delimiting the zones in which the classes of ships operate all year round and those in which their operation is limited to a specific period.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into force - Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Direcitve 98/28/EC4.6.19981.7.1998L 144 of 15.5.1998

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 2003/24/EC17.5.200317.11.2004L 123 of 17.5.2003
Directive 2003/75/EC30.7.200330.1.2004L 190 of 30.7.2004

RELATED ACTS

Decision 1999/461/EC - Official Journal L 180 of 15.07.1999
Commission Decision of 24 June 1999 on the publication of the list of existing class A and B passenger ships notified by Greece in accordance with Council Directive 98/18/EC for which the derogation of Article 6(3)(g) may be applied.

Council Directive 1999/35/EC of 29 April 1999 on a system of mandatory surveys for the safe operation of regular ro-ro ferry and high-speed passenger craft services [Official Journal L 138 of 01.06.1999].

Proposal for a Council Decision concerning the conclusion by the European Community of the Protocol of 2002 to the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea, 1974 [COM(2003) 375 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

Directive 2003/25/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 April 2003 on specific stability requirements for ro-ro passenger ships [Official Journal L 123 of 17.05.2003].

Last updated: 15.5.2007
 
Last updated: 15.05.2007
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