How to deal with maritime management systems in light of the invasion of Ukraine

A statutory maritime management system (MMS) also needs to be effective in extraordinary situations. DNV has been approached by customers and other stakeholders in the last weeks regarding how to deal with MMS requirements (ISM, ISPS, MLC, 2006) during a war situation, and DNV wants to share some recommendations on how to stay compliant.

How to deal with maritime management systems in light of the invasion of Ukraine

Relevant for ship owners and managers as well as flag states.

Below are some of the extraordinary issues that have been identified throughout the last few weeks. It must be acknowledged that the impact is not limited to Russian or Ukrainian shipping or seafarers.

From interactions with customers, and other stakeholders, we have observed some relevant challenges in managing the following MMS activities or issues:

a) Change of flag, change of company (operator) and change of address: Shipowners and operators may be impacted based on the flags they operate under, and it is essential to keep updated on flag state requirements and guidance. Companies and operations may also be challenged due to the company location identified on certificates and other documentation.

It will continue to be possible to change the above. For change of address, it must be noted that the management system(s), the people involved, their relationships and their authority must remain the same.

As general advice, we recommend contacting your local DNV office for any changes to existing MMS certification needs.

In doing so, note ISM Code 1.1.2 and the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC, 2006) Article II, paragraph 1(j) requiring the DoC to identify the legal entity responsible and having the authority and resources for handling “all the duties and responsibility imposed by the Code” and the DMLC to identify the legal entity responsible for, and having the authority and resources for handling, “the duties and responsibilities imposed on shipowners in accordance with the Convention”.

b) Payment of wages and access to bank accounts: As general advice, we reference the MLC, 2006 Guideline B2.2.2, paragraph 4 and recommend an agreement with seafarers on payment and for this agreement to be documented. MLC, 2006 compliance is expected, and requirements found in the DMLC Part I and guidance referenced here is only for showing possible solutions, and only flag state(s) can grant exemptions from requirements.

c) Cyber security: We have observed that cyber security risks are increasing. As general advice, we reference Resolution MSC.428(98), which concludes that cyber risk management shall be handled in accordance with objectives and functional requirements of ISM, and we encourage companies to assess the need for additional measures.

d) Repatriation: As general advice, we reference Regulation 2.5 of the MLC, 2006 noting that seafarers have the right to be repatriated at no cost to themselves in the circumstances and the conditions specified in the Maritime Labour Convention.

It should be noted that in the MLC, 2006 Guideline B2.5.1, paragraph 1, it states that, “seafarers should be entitled to repatriation: (iv) in the event of a ship being bound for a war zone, as defined by national laws or regulations or seafarers’ employment agreements, to which the seafarer does not consent to go”.

e) Other impact on operations, working and living conditions and insurance: The extraordinary war situation in the Ukraine may also impact seafarer employment agreements (SEA), termination of SEA, travel to and from vessels, repatriation destinations, personnel certification, health, and safety protection (including mental health risk), and vessel insurance. For any additional need or deviation, dialogue and flexibility are encouraged. Please note that exemptions must be granted by the flag state(s).


On a general note, companies (DoC, DMLC, and/or SSP holders) should consider consequences and risks and take actions as necessary and implement measures due to the challenging situation.

There will be extraordinary needs to be handled also in coming times – not only directly related to the invasion of Ukraine but also from sanctions in other geographical areas – and we encourage measures and dialogue to be initiated as a matter of priority. It must be noted that deviations and exemptions from statutory requirements can only be granted by flag states and that such exemptions must be documented on site.

It is not possible to be more specific, as every MMS is tailored to the needs of the company – based on specific challenges, ambitions, and operation (fit for purpose) – but as general advice, we recommend that you also utilize the management system to identify the needs in extraordinary situations considering objectives in the standards, reviewing:

  1. Objectives, requirements, decisions, needs and expectations to be dealt with
  2. Measures to deal with them
  3. Authority needed and/or held to deal with them
  4. Responsibilities and resources needed to be effective
  5. Performance data to be monitored to ensure the measures’ effectiveness
  6. Needs for decisions or clarifications from flag state(s) and insurance providers



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