Vessel Number

Vessel Number

A Vessel Number is a unique identifier assigned to a specific ship, facilitating tracking and communication within the maritime industry.

The Vessel Number is a unique seven-digit number preceded by the letters IMO assigned to each ship (Ex: IMO 1234567), ensuring a consistent identifier throughout the ship's lifecycle, irrespective of ownership changes, registration alterations, or name modifications.

Introduced in 1987, the IMO ship identification number scheme serves the dual purpose of enhancing maritime safety, pollution prevention, and fraud prevention by providing a permanent and unchanging identifier to each ship. This unique number remains constant despite changes in flag, name, ownership, or type. The IMO number remains the same until the ship is scrapped.

The IMO number is prominently featured in ship certificates and permanently marked on the ship's hull.

Administered by S&P Global Market Intelligence (formerly known as IHS Markit, Maritime and Trade (IHSM) or Lloyd's Register-Fairplay), this scheme applies to:

  • Ships of 100 gross tonnage and above, including fishing vessels of steel and non-steel hull construction.
  • Passenger ships of less than 100 gross tonnage, high-speed passenger craft and mobile offshore drilling units engaged on international voyages (SOLAS regulation V/19-1).
  • All motorized inboard fishing vessels of less than 100 gross tonnage down to a size limit of 12 meters in length overall (LOA) authorized to operate outside waters under the national jurisdiction of the flag state.

Excluded Categories

  • Ships without mechanical means of propulsion
  • Pleasure yachts
  • Ships engaged in special service (Lightships, floating radio stations, search and rescue vessels)
  • Hopper barges
  • Floating docks and other similar structures
  • Ships of war and troop ships
  • Wooden ships other than fishing vessels

The Vessel Number facilitates efficient communication and coordination in the maritime domain, helping to monitor and manage the movements, safety, and compliance of individual ships within the global shipping network.

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