Development of the International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention (known as the ISM Code) by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) reflects growing worldwide recognition of the need for uniform standards of safety on ships. The ISM Code contains the most far-reaching worldwide mandatory set of shipping regulations undertaken to date. For the first time, the responsibilities of shore-based management and shipboard personnel are integrated in a system designed to eliminate accidents caused by human error. The authors explain the provisions of the code and examine its history, development and implementation, as well as its far-reaching legal and practical implications for shipping interests. This Article should assist shipping interests and attorneys in understanding the ISM Code and ascertaining the risks associated with non-compliance with its provisions.