What is ROR || COLREGS


In this post we won’t be going inside the Rules but we will look onto it’s History, purpose & contents.

Formation/History of ROR

There are Traffic rules,Lane rules and many rules which we have to follow while driving vehicles on Road.
But out at Sea there are no Roads, but risk of collision is there and there was a must need of formation of Rules which prevent Collision at Sea. Prior to forming of one set of Rules there were several set of rules and conventions which were being followed by different maritime nations.As a result, there were inconsistencies and even contradictions that gave rise to unintended collisions. Vessel navigation lights for operating in darkness as well as navigation marks also were not standardised, giving rise to dangerous confusion between vessels at risk of colliding. When steam ships were discovered, conventionsĀ  for sailing vessel navigation had to be different with conventions for power-driven vessel navigation. Sailing vessels are limited as to their manoeuvrability in that they cannot sail directly into the wind and cannot be readily navigated in the absence of wind. On the other hand, steamships can manoeuvre in all 360 degrees of direction and can be manoeuvred irrespective of the presence or absence of wind. In 1840 in London, the Trinity House drew up a set of regulations which were enacted by Parliament in 1846. The Trinity House rules were included in the Steam Navigation Act 1846, and the Admiralty regulations regarding lights for steam ships were included in this statute in 1848. In 1849 Congress extended the light requirements to sailing vessels on US waters. In the UK in 1858 coloured sidelights were recommended for sailing vessels and fog signals were required to be given, by steam vessels on the ships whistle and by sailing vessels on the fog horn or bell, while a separate but similar action was also taken in the United States. In 1850, English maritime Law was being adopted in the United States. Also in 1850, courts in the England and the United States adopted common law pertaining to reasonable speed within the Assured Clear Distance Ahead. In 1863 a new set of rules drawn up by the British Board of Trade, in consultation with the French government, came into force. By 1864 the regulations had been adopted by more than thirty maritime countries, including Germany and the United States. In 1867, Thomas Gray, assistant secretary to the Maritime Department of the Board of Trade, wrote The Rule of the Road, a pamphlet that became famous for its well-known mnemonic verses. In 1878, the United States codified its common law rules for preventing collisions. In 1880, the 1863 Articles were supplemented with whistle signals and in 1884 a new set of international regulations was implemented. In 1889 the United States convened the first international maritime conference in Washington, D.C. The resulting rules were adopted in 1890 and effected in 1897. Some minor changes were made during the 1910 Brussels Maritime Conference and some rule changes were proposed, but never ratified, at the 1929 International Conference on Safety of Life at Sea (S.O.L.A.S.) With the recommendation that the direction of a turn be referenced by the rudder instead of the helm or tiller being informally agreed by all maritime nations in 1935. The 1948 S.O.L.A.S. International Conference made several recommendations, including the recognition of radar these were eventually ratified in 1952 and became effective in 1954. Further recommendations were made by a S.O.L.A.S. Conference in London in 1960 which became effective in 1965 The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea were adopted as a convention of the International Maritime Organization on 20 October 1972 and entered into force on 15 July 1977. It have been amended several times since then; 1981, 1993, 1989, 1993, 2001, 2007 and the last in 2013 by resolution A.1085 which became effective from 1st January 2016.


These rules are an International Convention by themselves and applicable to all the vessels irrespective of their type or flag. Their applicability is stated and required by the STCW convention. The COLREGS have to be applied in conjunction with the ‘watchkeeping arrangements and principles’ from the ‘STCW Code’ and other regulatory requirements for safe navigation, not alone or in isolation.
As their was a great evolution of this rule stated above in history. Everytime the update comes whenever some accident happens. So the basic purpose of COLREGS is to safely navigate through the sea without collision. Buy this amazing book by clicking below image. It will redirect you to Amazon.

Contents of the Rules

The Rules are divided into 6 parts, namely A,B,C,D,E and F foowed by Annexes I to IV. Part B is further subdivided into 3 sections I,II & III; other Parts have no such subdivisions.

Part A : General

Part B : Steering & Sailing RulesĀ 

Rule 5 – Look-out
Rule 6 – Safe Speed
Rule 7 – Risk of Collision
Rule 8 – Action to avoid Collision
Rule 9 – Narrow Channels
Rule 10- Traffic Separation Scheme
Rule 11- Application
Rule 12- Sailing vessels
Rule 13- Overtaking
Rule 14- Head-on situation
Rule 15- Crossing situation
Rule 16- Action by Give way Vessel
Rule 17- Action by Standby Vessel
Rule 18- Responsibilities between vessels Rule 19- Conduct of vessels in restricted visibility

Part C : Lights & Shapes

Rule 20- Application
Rule 21- Definitions (Light & Shapes)
Rule 22- Visibility of lights
Rule 23- Power-driven vessel underway
Rule 24- Towing & Pushing
Rule 25- Sailing vessels underway and vessels under oars
Rule 26- Fishing vessels
Rule 27- Vessels not under command or restricted in their ability to manoeuvre
Rule 28- Vessels constrained by their draught
Rule 29- Pilot vessels
Rule 30- Anchored vessels and vessels aground
Rule 31- Seaplanes

Part D : Sound and Light Signals

Rule 32- Definitions (Sound Signals)
Rule 33- Equipment for sound signals
Rule 34- Manoeuvring and warning signals
Rule 35- Sound Signals in restricted visibility
Rule 36- Signals to attract attention
Rule 37- Distress Signals

Part E : Exemption

Rule 38- Exemption

Part F : Verification of compliance with the provisions of the convention

Rule 39- Definitions
Rule 40- Application
Rule 41- Verification of Compliance


Annex I – Positioning and technical details of lights and shapes
Annex II – Additional signals for fishing vessels fishing in close proximity
Annex III – Technical details of sound signal appliances
Annex IV – Distress Signals
ROR Cards are coming up……..
Stay tuned ….