ISM Lead Auditor (including ISPS and MLC)

There has been widespread support across the industry to develop and implement an audit structure for implementation of Safety Management Systems. 

The Nautical Institute’s ISM Lead Auditor course is an intensive five-day remote course, designed to give participants the expertise and the understanding required to conduct a full audit of an organisation’s Management Systems in the role of Lead Auditor by focusing on ISM/ISPS/MLC auditing requirements.

The Nautical Institute’s ISM Lead Auditor course is predominantly theory based with guided practical exercises that introduce the participants to a varying number of scenarios.

Course Outline

  • The ISM/ISPS/MLC Code (definitions, principles, implementation)
  • Reasons for Accidents/Incidents
  • The Safety Management Cycle (SOLAS)
  • Understanding and Preparing for an ISM Audit
  • Auditor's Techniques
  • Findings, non-conformities and reporting
  • Audit completion and follow up
  • The Role and Responsibilities of the Lead Auditor

Course Aims and Objectives

The Nautical Institute aims to contribute to the improvement of vessel safety with the development of the ISM Lead Auditors’ Course. The ISM Lead Auditors course aims to give candidates knowledge in;

  • ISM/ISPS/MLC auditing requirements
  • Similarities and differences
  • Auditing methods/timetable/scope
  • The audit process
  • Questioning auditees
  • Non-conformities and observations
  • Corrective actions
  • Reporting
  • Follow-up and audit completion
  • Recommendations

Upon completion of The Nautical Institute’s ISM Lead Auditor course candidates should be confident in planning and preparing for an audit, conducting an audit, and subsequently understand how to follow up on an audit.

Who is this course suitable for?

The course is designed for members of the maritime community, specifically those in the industry who have the professional knowledge and experience to apply the principles of the ISM and ISPS Code to vessels whilst understanding the culture and requirements of the industry.


This is a pass/fail course.

To achieve a pass, participants must:

  • Attend the course in full. 
  • Pass a theoretical assessment held at the end of the course. The pass mark is 70%.
  • Demonstrate the ability to complete all required elements of practical auditing tasks to the satisfaction of the lecturer.


At the end of the ISM Lead Auditor course and following a pass mark, candidates will be issues both an ISM Lead Auditor wall certificate and a card wallet which can be carried on board. This certification is valid for five year from the date of issue.


The ISM Lead Auditor qualification is designed to meet the needs of practicing auditors and as such revalidation of the certificate requires candidates to satisfy one of the following criteria:

  1. To provide evidence of completion of a minimum 2 ISM audits in the previous five years.  Suitable evidence may include a description of the work undertaken in a log with supporting evidence of correspondence, invoices or anonymised reports.  Or
  2. The conduct of a minimum 5 safety-related audits of a similar standing and requirement to that of the ISM audits described in part a
  3. Complete a full ISM audit report within 1 month of expiry and attend a subsequent interview/review with an NI Assessor.
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