The International Maritime Organization

Located in Lambeth, just over the Thames from the Houses of Parliament, the IMO is an international body that draws up regulations for shipping safety and standardisation.

Although based in the UK, Organization is spelt with a “Z” to keep it inline with the other United Nations organisations around the world.

The United Nations held its first meeting at Methodist Central hall before it moved to New York. The agreement to create the International Maritime Organisation was agreed in 1948 and eventually met for the first time in 1958.

The first international agreement governing safety at see was the SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) regulations adopted in 1914 in the wake of the 1912 sinking of the Titanic which did not have enough lifeboats for all the passengers and crew.

The pictures on this page were taken during London Open House, 2023.

The building was opened by HM Queen Elizabeth II on 17th May 1983.


Looking at the IMO’s headquarters, your eye is quickly caught by the large sculpture of a ship’s bow on top of which a sailor can be seen working and keeping lookout. It is “International Memorial to Seafarers” by Michael Sandle which is seven metres tall and weighs ten tonnes. It protu

The Assembly Hall

This huge room at the rear of the building can accommodate all the delegates from around the world at a single sitting. Above the Secretary General’s chair on the podium is the gallery for the many interpreters. To the rear of the room is a second gallery for observers and, for particularly well attended sessions, to act as overspill seating.

Virtual Tours

The two pictures with red borders are 360 virtual tours, just like Google Street View.

Building Interior

Fourth Floor Terrace

Looking over the river, there is a fantastic view of the Houses of Parliament from the roof terrace.


Every wall in the building seems to have an object related to the sea and shipping presented by organisations or member countries. There are a few that manage to stand out, even amongst such a varied collection.

Rebbelib Stick Chart

A Rebbelib stick chart is generally a navigational chart that covers all of the Marshall Islands or those of one chain.
Unique to the Republic of the Marshall Islands, stick charts depict complex wave and current patterns around the atolls. Cowrie shells indicate special islands and the curved sticks show wave patters. The charts were memorised by Marshallese prior to the voyage, but were not taken to sea. (Text taken from the frame label).

Luis Alberto Pardo Villalón

Chilean naval officer who commanded the steam tug “Yelcho” to rescue the remainder of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s crew who were stranded on Elephant Island. Wikipedia.

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