Ships safety (ship Act)

Published by:
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Are you the captain, master, or owner of a ship? You are responsible for your ship’s safety. The Dutch Ships Act (Schepenwet) aims at preventing shipping disasters at sea and addresses such issues as ship safety and shipping disaster investigations. It applies to all Dutch ships except for pleasure craft that do not carry paying passengers and lifeboats.

Preventing shipping disasters

You must keep to the safety requirements to prevent shipping disasters. These requirements apply to your crew and cargo as well. The safety requirements also apply to your crew and the cargo on the ship.

A ship must have a number of documents and certificates before it can be used. In addition, it must fulfil a number of requirements, such as the presence of sea charts, radio equipment, and rescue and safety equipment. The Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (Inspectie Leefomgeving en Transport, ILT) oversees compliance with the requirements.

Reporting accidents

Accidents, such as collisions, grounding, fire, or capsizing must be reported immediately to the ILT. You must also report work accidents. ILT carries out an investigation after a shipping accident at sea. In some cases, the Dutch Safety Board (Onderzoeksraad voor de Veiligheid, OVV) also carries out an investigation.

Captain's obligations

The captain, master or owner must fulfil a number of obligations. For example, you must keep a journal during the journey. If defects to the ship occur when sailing you must repair these.

Notification duty weight shipping containers

Do you transport sea containers on your ship? Freight forwarders or hauliers are obliged to notify the correct weight of sea containers to the shipping line. This must be done before loading. If they fail to do so, the ship's master must refuse to load these containers.

Insurance against bunker oil damage

In the Netherlands, if you own an ocean-going vessel larger than 1,000 tons, you must be insured against damage from leakage of bunker oil (fuel for ocean-going vessels). The mandatory insurance guarantees that victims of damage will be compensated for a part of their loss. ILT issues bunker certificates that prove that you are insured.

Wreck removal insurance

Ship owners need to have insurance for wreck removal in the event of a maritime casualty. If the shipowner is unable to remove the wreck, Rijkswaterstaat will have it removed for them. Shipowners can address their insurance company to cover the wreck removal costs.

Armed security on ships

Are you active in merchant shipping and do you sail through specific at-risk areas? You may hire armed private security on board if you meet the conditions. The Dutch coast guard must approve your request (in Dutch).

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