Shipowners, Salvors and Insurers Call for Adoption of IMO Places of Refuge Guidelines

Shipowners, Salvors and Insurers – through their respective trade associations – have jointly called for the prompt and proper implementation of international measures to provide a Place of Refuge for stricken vessels, following a series of incidents where casualty vessels have been delayed in accessing a safe harbour.

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) says that it has noted “with dismay” the refusal by some coastal States to make places of refuge available, thereby risking lives and the environment even after the high profile cases of the Stolt Valor and the MSC Flaminia in 2012. And the plight of the Maritime Maisie presently off the coast of Japan has brought this subject back into sharp focus. The 44,000 dwt chemical tanker is being held at sea by six tugs after a collision and fire on 29 December 2013. The cargo fire has now been extinguished through the efforts of the salvors in the face of difficult conditions at sea.

The vessel has been seeking a place of refuge in either the Republic of Korea or Japan for more than a month. The salvors have indicated that it is a priority to take the vessel to calm waters to manage the remaining cargo in a safe manner and so to minimize potential damage to the environment.

The International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI), the International Salvage Union, (ISU) and ICS all recognise that the issue of Places of Refuge for casualty vessels is sensitive and that the risk of pollution from casualties cannot be completely removed. They also recognise that decisions with regard to handling casualty vessels carry political implications and may impact coastal communities.

At the same time, failure to offer a suitable Place of Refuge may prevent successful salvage intervention and therefore allow a casualty’s condition to worsen and ultimately lead to pollution that might otherwise have been prevented, and that pollution may affect a wider area than need have been the case.

Peter Hinchliffe, ICS Secretary General, said: “Guidance on the handling of requests for places of refuge was agreed at IMO but often when a case arises the coastal states concerned take a ‘not in my backyard’ attitude. This is in marked contrast to attitudes to aircraft in need of assistance. This current case shows that recent lessons have simply not been learned.

Commenting on the matter, President of the ISU, Leendert Muller said: “Our members are right on the front line of this issue. Too often they are unable to follow the best course of action which is to take the casualty into shelter, which does not necessarily have to be a port. We have seen infamous cases like Castor and Prestige and more recently the MSC Flaminia and Stolt Valor and now the Maritime Maisie where our members, attending damaged vessels, experienced great difficulty in finding an authority willing to accept the casualty.

Ole Wikborg, President of the IUMI, points out: “The potential impact of environmental damage has to be reduced as much as possible and the safety of crews is paramount and we have to minimize material damage to ships and equipment. Coastal states must be able to make the best possible decision to prevent further damage following a maritime accident. Some countries have a system that seems to be functioning. IUMI is of the strong opinion that the prevailing regulations as set out, for example, by IMO and the EU are sufficient but that the necessary steps have to be taken to make the rules work.

ISU, ICS and IUMI all note the international legal context for the issue and the significant relevant legislation that is in place internationally and regionally, in particular, IMO Resolution A.949, “Guidelines on Places of Refuge for ships in need of assistance”; Resolution A.950 (23) (recommending all coastal States to establish a Maritime Assistance Service) and the 1989 Salvage Convention as well as the European Union vessel traffic monitoring and information system (Directive 2002/59/EC as amended by Directive 2009/17/EC) which prevents member States from issuing an outright refusal to provide a place of refuge and states that safety of human life and the environment are of over-riding concern.

The industry bodies do not see merit in pursuing additional international legislation which will be a lengthy process and will consume resources. Instead they will campaign for better application of, compliance with and enforcement of existing rules and guidance. ISU has already formally presented views on Places of Refuge to EU member states through the EU Commission; the issue will be raised in IMO fora this year and there will be direct engagement with the governments of individual coastal states.

In short, coastal states should be encouraged to recognise that granting a Place of Refuge to a casualty vessel may be the most appropriate course. States should establish an authority to assess each case on its merits without political interference. Such an assessment must include a visual inspection and conclude with recommendations for managing and mitigating the risk of any impact on local coastlines and communities. The assumption should be that a Place of Refuge will be granted if needed and that there should be “no rejection without inspection”.

IUMI, ICS and ISU would like to see wider adoption by coastal states of simple, robust, “single point” command and control models akin to that of the United Kingdom’s SOSREP system.

ICS, February 13, 2014

Share this article

Follow World Maritime News

In Depth>

Events>

<< Mar 2017 >>
MTWTFSS
27 28 1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31 1 2

INMEX Vietnam 2017

The event is an exceptional meeting point for the global maritime community in Vietnam, a region where the industry remains buoyant and strong…

read more >

14th Annual Green Ship Technology

4 concurrent streams focussing on innovation in ship design, energy management, emissions reduction & discharges to sea
Cargo owners’ response to increased pressure for a sustainable logistics chain…

read more >

14th International Maritime Exhibition & Conference

14th EXPOSHIPPING EXPOMARITT Istanbul International Maritime Exhibition will be organized with the support of Turkish Ministry of Economy…

read more >

Ferries Asia Summit

Propelling Regional Waterway Connectivity & Fleet-wide Operational Excellence

Ferry travel is in the limelight. The potential for driving tourism growth is immense – and for archipelago nations battling with urban congestion, ferry services pose a clean, efficient alternative in everyday public transport. But high-profile ferry accidents have brought ever greater attention to safety regulations for Asia’s maritime travel industry.

Amid these circumstances, how can vessel operators cope with ever-tightening safety requirements, while making the right decisions at the right time to capture rising demand? What are the smartest ways to improve service reliability and fleet quality, that maximize operating and capital spend? What are the industry’s best-practices for sustainable growth, and how can they be achieved?

Play your part! Join us at the Ferries Asia Summit 2017 to push forward the regional debate on making Asia’s ferry industry more progressive, safe, and commercially sustainable. Bringing together fast-ferry, RO-RO and ROPAX vessel owners along with international and domestic maritime regulators, classification agencies, shipbuilders and naval architects, this event connects the entire value chain for a meaningful holistic debate on ferry operations excellence in Asia.

WHAT’S ON THE AGENDA THIS YEAR?

Comprehensive debates on addressing the complexity of ferry safety in Asia: Is vessel age truly the greatest concern? How significant are other factors, and how can they be addressed?

Pathways to change through greater public-private collaboration

Contrasting viewpoints on the most effective ways to enhance operational stability & passenger management

Cost-efficient O&M strategies to extend vessel life & tips for stakeholder management to avoid purchasing mistakes

Integrating ferry business with tourism opportunities through strategic partnerships

Exciting formats including speed networking, panel discussions & a high-intensity fast-pitch ‘Shark Tank’!

For more information, click here to download the brochure.
If you would like to attend the event, register here before 3rd February to save USD 400.
Alternatively, email us at enquiry@iqpc.com.sg 
for any enquiries regarding the event.

More info

read more >