The Purpose of a Yacht's SMS

A Safety Management System (SMS) is the practical embodiment of the International Safety Management (ISM) Code. Mandatory by virtue for all commercial yachts over 500 gross tonnes since 1998, adopting a SMS through the ISM Code works to keep everyone safe by encouraging procedures that reassure all aboard. By definition of the ISM Code, a SMS is “a structured and documented system enabling company personnel to implement effectively the company safety and environmental protection policy”.

The main objectives of a SMS are to capture and enable the implementation of the ISM Code alongside any other applicable statutory requirements and industry best practices. Key elements are:

  • Provide safe practices for all vessels and the environment in which they operate.
  • Identify and work to safeguard all potential risks.
  • Provide hazard, accident, and emergency response support related to environmental protection and safety of personnel.
  • Reduce the human element within maritime incidents.
  • Continuously work to improve personnel safety management skills and safety culture (both aboard and ashore) by embracing lessons learned over the years.

Who Needs a SMS?

By law, all commercially registered vessels over 500GT must comply with the full ISM Code by maintaining a SMS. Commercial vessels under 500GT yet over 24m should instead employ a SMS that complies with the requirements of their Flag States; this is generally referred to as Mini ISM System.

Although a SMS is not mandatory for non-commercial yachts under 500GT, there is still great value in complying. Environmental protection and the safety of those on board far outweigh any expense of adopting a SMS, so compliance with requirements of the Flag state is a recommended practice.

What is a yacht Safety Management System (SMS)?

Implementation of a Yacht's SMS

A SMS should meet the specific needs of the yacht. To ensure the most effective SMS is implemented, the ISM Code states that the vessel should:

  1. Implement a Safety and Environmental protection policy.
  2. Set instructions and procedures to ensure the safe operation of ships and protection of the environment. All whilst complying with applicable international and flag State legislation.
  3. Define the level of authority and lines of communication between, and amongst, shore and shipboard personnel.
  4. Set procedures for reporting accidents and non-conformities with the provisions of the ISM Code.
  5. Set procedures to prepare for and respond to emergencies.
  6. Set procedures for internal audits and management reviews.
Continuous Development of a Yacht's SMS

The initial development of a SMS can be a simple process that most yacht management companies can carry out. However, without a clear understanding of the yacht’ specific requirements and a lack of inputs, the vessel is unlikely to experience the benefits an SMS in full. Once implemented, ensuring that the SMS remains fully effective requires continuous review and further development.

When SMS features are tailored to the yacht and their operations which includes checklists, permits to work and other documentation it will be easier to comply with and most importantly, assist in ensuring a safe and pollution-free environment for all. At Riela Yachts, we view this human element as the most important factor within our solutions. We carry out consistent communication with our fleet through regular contact, discussions, and documented reviews; these are an integral part of long-term SMS management.

How a Yacht Manages Their SMS

To meet the guidelines of the ISM Code a yacht must have comprehensive and specific SMS documentation in place. This ensures that the crew have access to documentation that has been reviewed by the authorised crew and staff ashore and that all outdated documents are promptly removed from the system to avoid confusion.

The way a yacht formats its SMS documentation is a personal choice and depends on the organisation and culture of the yacht at hand. At Riela Yachts, we highly recommend an electronic SMS approach, a system we know as the Riela eSMS.

electronic safety management system (eSMS)
Benefits of an Electronic SMS

The Riela eSMS simplifies document management through its centralised, automatic update facility and the storage of digital files. The intelligent and automated functions enable the crew to make full use of the SMS through document searches on any device (be that on a computer browser, tablet or mobile app), making for easy access from anywhere on board.

The eSMS also improves the efficiency of the safety management measures through its digital checklists, reporting forms and safe working practices such as permits to work, supported by the ‘dual connectivity’ functionality. Processes can therefore be undertaken by staff even when the vessel is offline and without internet or during periods of patchy connectivity during long passages or when higher priority access is required to the available bandwidth. The eSMS also provides timely oversight and support from our Safety and Compliance team ashore.

No matter what form of SMS is chosen, electronic or not, they all work towards the same ultimate goal of improving safety and pollution prevention on board. To achieve this in the most practical way possible, the shore side safety management provider must know the Owner, Captain and the crew’s mission and values. Taking this and adapting it into practice is the tell-tale sign of a high-functioning SMS that is designed to fit the bespoke needs of the yacht. A tailored SMS should never be overlooked.

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Yacht Manager

Alexandra Hernández is Riela Yachts’ Yacht Manager. As part of this, Alexandra is the initial point of contact for our vessels; working closely with our other specialists to provide support and service coordination. Alexandra supervises crew management and plays a heavy involvement in the development and maintenance of our award-winning electronic Safety Management System (eSMS).

Born and raised in Colombia, Alexandra completed her degree as a Lawyer, and she is on track to receive her diploma in Superyacht Management.

Alexandra’s legal background and experience within the Marine & Aviation industries cover a wide range of roles, helping to gain invaluable knowledge, develop communication skills and actively cultivate solid industry relationships to deliver the highest of standards in every project.

Jay Houghton


Riela Group Finance Director

Jay Houghton is the Riela Group Finance Director. Jay is responsible for overseeing the Financial Strategy of the Group alongside the financial reporting and control structure of the Group and its companies.

As a qualified accountant with over 30-years in the financial and service industries, Jay has built a wealth of experience in business analysis, investment appraisal, financial control and reporting.

Cameron findlay

Safety & Compliance Officer

Cameron “Fin” Findlay became a part of the Riela Yachts team in late 2021, initially joining as a Trainee Yacht Safety & Compliance Assistant. Fin’s commitment and dedication have enabled him to understand the intricacies of the industry from the ground up, leading him to being promoted to Yacht Safety & Compliance Officer in 2023. Fin is now a qualified Company Security Officer (CSO), actively contributing to the implementation of Riela’s Safety Management System across our fleet, working closely alongside Clive Harrison and George Self.

Christian Crompton Yachts

Christian crompton

Product and Development Lead

Christian Crompton is the Riela Yachts’ Product and Development Lead responsible for translating the requirements and operations of the Safety and Compliance team and implementing this into the forefront of the electronic Safety Management System (eSMS).

Since graduating with a first-class honours degree in Computer and Information Security in 2018, Christian has worked on designing and developing superyacht solutions using Laserfiche in the Maritime Software Industry.

With Christian’s security background and software experience streamlining business processes, Christian applies his knowledge into the Riela Yachts strategy and innovates new systems for both Riela and their clients.

Tony Partridge

Tony Partridge

Product and Development specialist

Tony Partridge is a Product and Development specialist at Riela Yachts where he will be working closely alongside Mark Bridson and Christian Crompton. Tony’s main focus is building an innovative client focused dashboard, whilst providing a new outlook and perspective to our current processes, policies and procedures.


Before joining Riela, Tony started his own web development business where he built applications and websites for a large group of different sectors, growing a strong and long-lasting clientele base. With over 10 years of experience, Tony brings a depth of knowledge and expertise to the Riela Yachts team which will be used to help progress the company’s development through the innovation and development of Riela Yachts solutions.

Robert Tobin

Riela Group Managing Director

Rob Tobin is the Managing Director of the Riela Group of Companies and is responsible for overseeing our business operations, our people and driving excellence in all we do.

Robert brings over 25 years of successful leadership and entrepreneurial experience across a range of industries including Family Office, corporate services, construction engineering, Superyachts, cyber security and information technology development to our Group, and to our customers.

In the past 15 years Rob has gained a prominent reputation within the Superyacht industry for his passion, integrity, innovation and achievements to date.

“Being part of an awesome, capable and forward-thinking team that have a shared passion for Superyachts, people and the environment is the highlight of my career and puts a smile on my face and a spring in my step every day”.

Clive Harrison

Clive Harrison

Operations Director

Clive Harrison is a Director at Riela Yachts and leads the Operations Team.

After a 22 year service as a Deck Officer in the UK Royal Navy, Clive moved ashore and is enjoying a second career, spanning over a decade,  in the yachting industry and relishing the challenges that this brings.

Clive brings a wealth of expertise and experience to our Company and has earned a reputation for providing a professional and pragmatic approach to the delivery of our services.

George Self

George Self

Safety & Compliance Manager

George Self is a Safety & Compliance Manager and responsible for the implementation and development of operational compliance for yachts at the company.

Accruing a 10-year service of sea time, beginning as a deckhand before respectfully concluding her career as a Chief Officer, George now contributes a wealth of first-hand practice and insight into the support she now provides to yachts daily. George also brings shore side experience from her time working at a number of established Ship Management firms on the Isle of Man.

Ken Hickling

Ken Hickling


Ken Hickling is a company Director at Riela Yachts (UK) Ltd.

Ken has spent over 30 years working in the Yachting industry at Boatyards and materials manufacturers, and more recently as a Specialist Business Advisor. During this time Ken has served as International Superyacht Society (ISS) President and is currently on the Superyacht UK Executive Committee. He also works as a project leader on the ISO work group focused on Superyacht Quality.

The experience that he brings to The Riela Group in optimising our internal business processes helps to ensure that the quality of service we provide to our clients is at the highest level.

Louise Gimson


Louise Gimson is a Director, Senior Administrator and in-house HR Manager and is responsible for the day to day running of the company and client accounts at the Riela Yachts.

With an extensive background in finance, Louise brings almost twenty years’ experience in accounts within the ship management industry to Riela Yachts, where she is dedicated to implementing dynamic solutions to benefit clients.

Louise has diversified her responsibilities by taking on data handling duties within the company and in 2016 began assisting the Operations Team with internal compliance procedures.

Matthew Roberts

Matthew Roberts

Head of Sales

As the Head of Group Sales at the Riela family of companies, Matthew leads the company’s sales strategy, execution, and growth.

Matthew has a successful record building trusted client relationship and delivering upon set expectations. An accomplished sales leader, he delivers a sales process that provides clients with the information and support they need to make the right decisions for their organisations and their constituents.

Matthew has significant experience within the maritime industry having previously worked across various sectors including insurance, security, satellite communications and managed IT. Matthew’s most recent experience encompasses almost 5 years spent with the leading satellite communications and managed IT provider in the maritime industry, focusing on their superyacht clientele.

Mark Bridson

Mark Bridson

Product & Development Specialist

Mark Bridson is a Product and Development specialist and responsible for the integration of Laserfiche within the company and the developing of an electronic Safety Management System.

Marks career started in the Royal Air Force as a data analyst maintaining Aircraft engineering records and the provision of Aircraft statistics.

Returning to the Island Mark spent the next 25 years working in IT for an aircraft design company. In this role he provided Computer Aided Design and document management support for offices within the UK and Europe.

Moving from the Aircraft industry to Maritime, Mark has spent two years with a Yachting software solutions company using Laserfiche to design purchase ordering systems for Superyachts.

Tina - Riela Yachts

Tina Dahn

Crew Officer

Tina Dahn is a Crew Officer and responsible for the administration of yacht crew contracts, monthly payroll and crew certification at Riela Yachts.

After a 12 year service in the Royal Navy undertaking various administration and PA roles, Tina began working for the NHS in 2001 and was responsible for duties including managing payroll, recruitment and HR administration.

Tina returned to the Isle of Man to undertake the role of Crewing Officer in the superyacht industry in 2011, where she oversaw a portfolio of clients whom she provided crew employment, administration and payroll services.

Christian goelz


Christian is involved across the Riela family of companies with particular attention to the technology businesses, Cyber and Tech.

Christian gained a postgraduate Master in Finance degree at the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland and completed his MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Before joining us, Christian worked for six years at Argosy Capital, an Isle of Man-based private equity and venture capital business focusing on early-stage growth businesses. At Argosy, he focused on managing investment companies, research and financial analysis and served as a director on several boards.