Improving maritime safety through the implementation of new international rules and standards.

Impact: Impact - for External PortalQuality of life and safety, Policy and legislation, Professional practice, training and standards

Who is affected

Given that damage stability failure represents 90% of the risk to human lives in maritime accidents, this affects over 2 billion people who travel on passenger ships each year, and around 100,000 commercial vessels, operated by around 1.5 million crew. In 2009-2012, over 10,000 ships were built under SOLAS 2009 regulations (Source 7). Currently, over 2,500 ships worldwide (worth $100Bn) are being designed and built to SOLAS 2009 regulations. The impact of the NA-ME research in Europe is even greater, as the performance-based standards in the Stockholm agreement have been applied to existing Passenger/Car ferries as well as new builds since 1997. In Northern Europe more than 200 existing vessels were upgraded to the standards set out in the Stockholm agreement in the period up to 2009. The impact continues as 300 existing vessels in Southern Europe are being upgraded to the standard in the period 2009 to 2015. More than 200 million passengers and 15 million cars/trailers are transported annually throughout Europe on these vessels.


Research on the theoretical and experimental assessment of the stability of damaged ships in the Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from the mid-1990s to the present day has been pivotal in the development, adoption and implementation of the latest amendment of the International Convention on Safety of Life At Sea (SOLAS 2009) by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the UN body regulating maritime safety. The impact of these regulations has been a significant reduction in the risk to human life at sea by enabling ship design and operation with higher standards of damage stability. SOLAS 2009 represents a step change from deterministic to probabilistic rules and from rule compliance to goal-based standards; it has improved design and operation of all commercial ships built worldwide from 2009, and has thus resulted in far-reaching and long-lasting impact on maritime safety.
Impact statusOpen
Category of impactQuality of life and safety, Policy and legislation, Professional practice, training and standards
Impact levelBenefit


  • REF2014 impact case study