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OCIMF and ICS together with the International Association of Ports and Harbors revised and updated the International Safety Guide for Oil Tankers and Terminals (ISGOTT 6).

This Sixth Edition encompasses the latest thinking on a range of topical issues including gas detection, the toxicity and the toxic effects of petroleum products (including benzene and hydrogen sulphide), the generation of static electricity and stray currents, fire protection and the growing use of mobile electronic technology.


What’s new?

New significantly reappraised topics include:

  • Enclosed space entry.
  • Human factors.
  • Safety Management Systems (SMSs), including complementary tools and processes such as permits to work, risk assessment, Lock-out/Tag-out (LO/TO), Stop Work Authority (SWA) and their linkage to the underlying principles of the International Safety Management (ISM) Code.
  • Marine terminal administration and the critical importance of the tanker/terminal interface.
  • Alternative and emerging technologies.
  • Bunkering operations, including the use of alternative fuels such as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
  • Cargo inspectors.
  • Alignment with OCIMF’s recently revised Mooring Equipment Guidelines.
  • Maritime security and linkage to both the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code and industry’s maritime security Best Management Practices (BMP).

Care has been taken to ensure that where the guidance given in previous editions is still relevant and accurate, any amendments, changes or deletions have only enhanced the content and not diminished the ethos of ensuring the health, safety and environmental protection of those who use the guide.

The Ship/Shore Safety and Bunkering Operations Checklists have also been completely revised to reflect changes in the understanding of the impact of human factors in their effective use. The importance of ensuring that individual and joint responsibilities for the tanker and the terminal are clearly communicated before arrival, as well as when alongside, is central to this objective.
Both checklists are now available and free to download.


ISGOTT 5 was published in 2006 and since then there have been many changes to legislation and standards. Enhancements to operational best practice have continued to evolve particularly around robust safety management systems, enclosed space entry, hot work and the ship/shore interface. There was also a need to include guidance on new or topical and critical issues current in today’s industry including discussion on Human Factors and Alternative and Emerging Technologies.

There will be a grace period for the transition from ISGOTT 5 to ISGOTT 6. During this time the OCIMF programme’s Vessel Inspection Questionnaires (VIQs) will not require a copy of ISGOTT 6 to be on board vessels and SIRE inspectors will not be looking for it. Until the transition the blue language will reflect ISGOTT 5. OCIMF highly recommends using the guidance in ISGOTT 6 as soon as possible as it has been updated and modernised.

See Is ISGOTT 5th Edition still valid?

See Is ISGOTT 5th Edition still valid?

The major changes you will find in ISGOTT 6 fall into three broad categories:

1.         Inclusion of new guidance on issues such as Marine Terminal Administration (including use of the OCIMF Marine Terminal Information System (MTIS)), Human Factors, Alternative and Emerging Technologies and Cargo Inspectors,

2.         Amendments and updates due to changes in legislation and standards e.g. revised standards for construction, maintenance and retirement of cargo transfer hoses,
3.         Upgrades and enhancements to existing best practice guidance including the management of hazards and risks for tanker and terminal operations, enclosed space entry, firefighting, security, and the ship/shore marine terminal interface which includes updates to the ship/shore safety checklist and the bunker operations safety checklist. 

A significant review of the hot work sections was undertaken. The sections were realigned following changes to chapter 4 with detailed discussion on Safety Management and Permits moved across and most changes to previous content focussed on refreshing and aligning to current best practice including a refreshed procedure flowchart and the addition of new drawings.

Best practice guidance on enclosed space entry has been retained in chapter 10 and cross reference to shipboard safety management system procedural references. It has been significantly updated to further re-emphasis the absolute requirement to maintain control around all operations involving entry into an enclosed space, and to adhere closely to best practice. The chapter highlights the risks of not following procedures and management of safety principles (e.g. risk assessment and use of entry permits) and further emphasises the need to address human factors particularly around human behaviours and the importance of factoring this into training and the safe management of activities.

Safe transfer operations depend on good communication between the terminal and tanker, from pre-arrival to post-departure, and on complying with agreed safe procedures at all stages.

The revised Ship/Shore Safety Checklist aims to start that communication before vessel’s arrival/interface at the terminal so any identified issues can be addressed before a problem arises.

The communication then continues from the time vessel arrives at the berth to completion of cargo operations and until vessel’s departure.  The positive affirmation approach used in the revised checklist where applicable aspects of the operation, refers back to ISGOTT 6 references and clearly differentiates areas of responsibility between vessel and terminal.

The ISGOTT technical workgroup consulted with industry experts and specialists in human factors from the airline industry to leverage from best practice in using a checklist effectively. This led to the development of a multi-part checklist system where smaller, targeted process oriented checklists are undertaken at appropriate stages in the operation, and that items are clearly agreed via an affirmative question. Where agreements are reached for specific local issues these can now be clearly documented in a separate ‘Agreements Section’.

See Why has the Ship/Shore Safety Checklist changed significantly?

Yes – Section 24.3 Liquefied natural gas fuel ships and liquefied natural gas bunkering is closely aligned to SGMF Safety guidelines on gas as marine fuel, FP07-01, version 2.0.
During the development of the ISGOTT 6th Edition SGMF and IAPH representatives were fully involved in the enhancement of the guidance around gas fuel bunkering and reference has been made to their own published guidance.

We recommend various parties to adapt to the revised checklist as proposed in chapter 25.

See Why has the Ship/Shore Safety Checklist changed significantly?

This is available under chapter 25, section 25.4 Instructions for competing the Ship/Shore Safety Checklist.

The revised format of the Ship/Shore Safety Checklist provides for an exchange of information before the tanker’s arrival at the terminal. This exchange should include the provision of the Terminal Information Booklet (TIB) containing information to ensure a safe and effective turnaround at the facility. At this time the tanker and terminal are to acknowledge the systems that will be in place to ensure the safety of the ship/shore interface at all times and agree the format for the Ship/Shore Safety Checklist. This needs to be agreed before berthing that ensures the safety of the operation. The use of two checklists, one from the tanker and one from the terminal should not be discounted as a compromise, although it is clearly a less efficient process and is to be discouraged.

If either party refuses to undertake any items in the Ship/Shore Safety Checklist then the terminal or tanker operator should undertake a review with the other party on the reason for not following the requirement. Guidance is provided in chapter 25 on what steps should be undertaken to achieve agreement on how to proceed, including where necessary, stopping operations.

The concept of risk assessment has been established in the energy sector as a best practice for many years and has evolved into a variety of different formats for which there are an equally large number of methodologies. In the opinion of the co-authors, many of these methods and the tools that accompany them are in themselves established best practice and therefore it is down to the user to determine what system best fits their needs for the task, and that will ensure safety of the specific operation. Broad guidance on expectations of what the user should be looking for is however provided in Chapters 4, 7 and 8.

The co-authors do not currently provide training. However, if there is a clear need to provide additional information on an area covered in ISGOTT we will look at the best ways to communicate with industry.

OCIMF issues best practices and guidelines not rules. The MTIS program was developed to assist terminal operators and users with information on berth data. Included in the programme is the MTMSA which similar to TMSA helps terminal operators assess their terminals and engage in continual improvement. The last part of the MTIS programme is MTOCT which assists terminal managers to train their operators.

See "As a terminal operator must I comply with the Marine Terminal Information System (MTIS) for example undertake a Marine Terminal Management Self-Assessment?".

See "As a terminal operator must I comply with the Marine Terminal Information System (MTIS) for example undertake a Marine Terminal Management Self-Assessment?".

The co-authors do not provide any training or accreditation scheme for users to undertake marine terminal management system assessments. Marine terminal operators should utilise individuals who have sufficient experience in both marine terminal operations and the format and process of the MTMSA and provide localised training where this gap exists. A best practice may also consider the need for any individuals who may become assessors to have undertaken, as a minimum, a recognised training and certification in safety management system auditing to an equivalent of the ISO 9001 Lead Auditor scheme.

The co-authors do not provide a training scheme for cargo inspectors. As noted in ISGOTT6, it is recommended that cargo inspectors should be procured from companies that are affiliated to recognised industry bodies that operate under a code of practice such as the Testing, Inspection and Certification (TIC) council or ISO, and these bodies should be approached about the availability of specific competence training schemes that they have available.

ISGOTT6 is primarily focussed on oil tankers and the terminals they visit, however many of the core principles and processes that are established to manage the associated safety activities have parallels onboard all types of ships. These will include topics such as the safety requirements for enclosed space entry including entry into ballast tanks or void spaces; hot work onboard ships, particularly in or around spaces that may have contained flammable atmospheres such as bunker tanks, the management of security risks, introduction of alternative and emerging technologies, and human factors.

Yes. As noted in the prior question, while ISGOTT is primarily targeted towards oil tankers and the terminals they visit, the safety management principles and processes in many safety critical topics such as enclosed space entry can be applied to all ship types.
To this extent the co-authors OCIMF/ICS/IAPH would strongly encourage all ship operators to take note of the best practice guidance provided and to adapt it to their own operating circumstances wherever possible and appropriate. It is our collective objective in publishing this edition of ISGOTT that it can provide a positive benefit to making shipboard operations on all ship types safer and contribute towards saving lives at sea.