The Marine Notice 7-042-1 aligns with Quantification Addendum: International Medical Guide for Ships, 3rd Edition, published by the WHO and addresses, among others, the kinds and amounts of medicines, medical supplies and equipment that should be considered for a ship’s medicine chest, and requirements for their re-supply, replacement, and disposal.

Vessel’s Medicine Chest: Requirement for Carriage

All vessels must carry a medicine chest containing:

  • medical supplies and equipment; and
  • the latest edition of applicable publications, forms and charts.

Content of Medicine Chest

  • Except for ships carrying dangerous goods, the content of a ship’s medicine chest is not mandated through any statutory requirement to which the Administrator is a party.
  • However, guidance on the medicines and medical supplies that should be maintained on board is provided in the International Medical Guide for Ships and its Quantification Addendum published by the WHO.

Carriage Requirements for Medicines and Medical Supplies

-All Vessels

All vessels must stock their medicine chests so that the inventory (types, dosage and quantities of medicines, medical supplies and equipment) is appropriate to the particular vessel’s route, operation and number of persons on board. All vessels greater than 500 gross tons must, in addition to any other requirement, provide commercially available first aid kits for their engine room and galley.

-Vessels with a Doctor onboard

Vessels, including passenger ships, carrying 100 or more persons and ordinarily engaged on international voyages of more than three days’ duration are required to carry a qualified medical doctor responsible for providing medical care.

For mobile offshore drilling units and mobile offshore units (as defined in MI-293), the requirement for a doctor on board may be met with a qualified medic or nurse where the unit is within helicopter range to shore medical services and facilities. The exact inventory of medicines, medical equipment and supplies should be determined by the ship owner or operator in consultation with a qualified medical practitioner, such as the ship’s doctor or pharmacist.

-Vessels without a Doctor onboard

The Administrator requires its vessels without a doctor on board, as outlined in the RMI Ship-Specific Medicine Chest Inventory Guidelines in Table 1, below, to utilize the tables contained in Appendix 1 as guidance in establishing the contents of their medicine chest. The types, amounts and quantities indicated by these tables are expected to vary based on the vessel route, operation and the number of persons on board.

If there is any question about the appropriate types or quantities of medicines or supplies to be carried, the Administrator highly recommends the contents of the medicine chest be established by the ship owner or operator in consultation with a qualified medical practitioner or pharmacist.

Medicines for Ship’s Carrying Dangerous Cargoes

Ships, including ferries, carrying dangerous cargoes or their residues, must, in addition, comply with the IMDG Code and the guidance in the latest edition of Medical First Aid Guide for Use in Accidents Involving Dangerous Goods (MFAG). Medicines and equipment already available in the IMGS list may be counted toward the MFAG numerical requirement, if appropriate. They should be stored and registered together with the regular medicines and medical supplies carried on board.

Where a cargo which is classified as dangerous has not been included in the most recent edition of MFAG, the necessary information on the nature of the substances, the risks involved, the necessary personal protective devices, the relevant medical procedures and specific antidotes should be made available to the seafarers via the ship’s occupational safety and health policies.

For a listing of medicines and supplies, refer to MFAG, which is required to be maintained on board and can be found in the IMDG Code Supplement. This Supplement may be purchased from the IMO at:

Medicines for Passenger Ships

There is a high risk of a medical emergency occurring aboard any passenger ship even for those cruising just for a few hours. To facilitate care of passengers on these types of ships that do not normally carry a medical doctor, particularly ro-ro passenger ships, an Emergency Medical Kit should be carried.

The Emergency Medical Kit/Bag should be labeled: “The medicines in this bag are to be used by a qualified medical practitioner or a registered general nurse, a qualified paramedic or ship personnel in charge of medical care on board under the direct supervision of either a medical practitioner on board the ship or under telemedical advice/prescription by a Telemedical Advice Service (TMAS).”


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RMI - Medical care aboard ship and ashore