Laws & Conventions

What is SOPEP or Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan ?

Every non-tanker of 400 GRT or above and every tanker of 150 GRT and above must have SOPEP on board in the form of a manual. The plan should consist of the following

  • Required by reg. 26 annex 1 of MARPOL 73/78
  • Purpose – guide to masters / officers – steps to take in pollution
  • Contains all info + special inst. For guidance and persons, telephone numbers. Telex numbers to contact

Purpose of SOPEP

The purpose of the Plan is to provide guidance to the Master and officers on board the ship with respect to the steps to be taken when an oil pollution incident has occurred or is likely to occur. The appendices contain communication data of all contacts referenced in the Plan, as well as other reference material.
The Plan contains all information and operational instructions as required by the “Guidelines for the development of the Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan” as developed by the Organization (IMO), published under MEPC.54(32) and amended by MEPC.86(44).
Further, the purpose of the Plan is to provide the Master, officers and certain crew members with a practical guide to the prevention of oil spills and in carrying out the responsibilities associated with regulation 37 of annex 1 of MARPOL 73/78.

  • procedures to report an oil pollution incident
  • Coastal State contacts (Focal Points) and Port Contact Lists to be contacted in the event of an oil pollution incident
  • response actions to reduce or control the discharge of oil following an incident
  • co-ordination with national and local Authorities in combating oil pollution

Objectives of SOPEP 

  • prevent oil pollution
  • stop or minimize oil outflow when damage to the ship or its requirements occurs
  • stop or minimize oil outflow when an operational spill occurs in excess of the quantity or instantaneous rate permitted under the present Convention
In the absence of such a list or listed focal point for a single country/ Coastal State, the Master should contact by the quickest available means 
  • the nearest coastal radio station or
  • the designated ship movement reporting station or
  • the nearest Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (RCC).

List of authorities to be contacted in the event of an Oil Spill

  1. Nearest coast station.
  2. Harbor and terminal authorities.
  3. Ship owners/managers / P & I authorities

• Approved by the administration – cannot be altered without approval except section 5 + appendices which are to be kept updated by owners.


  1. Use, purpose, and relation to shore-based plan.
  2. Reporting requirements –when (position/time) – info required – sample of reports forms provided – who (coastal state/port auth. / Vessels owners, reps., charterers, agents, etc.) 
  3. Steps to control discharge Operational spill – pipe leak, hull leak & Tank o/flow Spill due to casualty – grounding, collision, fire/explosion, hull failure, excess list and trim (checklist to be provided for each, at least 1 drill every month. Info for damage stab. + damage longitudinal stress assessment to be provided.) National + local coordination – assist the master in initiating action by the coastal state, local govt., interested parties, if no action to help master to organize response. Addition information. Information not required by MARPOL but maybe by some coastal state to be kept updated by owners to contain planned review procedures, training and drill, record keeping, and public affairs policy of company.

SOPEP Appendices

List of SOPEP Equipment

  1. OS dispersant
  2. Sawdust
  3. Rags
  4. Absorbent pads
  5. Oil kit bags
  6. Scoops
  7. Shovel
  8. Brooms & brushes
  9. Buckets
  10. Drums
  11. Rubber suits/boots / gloves
  12. Wilden pump with hoses


About the author

Amit Sharma

Graduated from M.E.R.I. Mumbai (Mumbai University), After a brief sailing founded this website with the idea to bring the maritime education online which must be free and available for all at all times and to find basic solutions that are of extreme importance to a seafarer by our innovative ideas.