A Call for Vessel Refuge Guidelines

Posted by Michelle Howard
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Peter Hinchliffe

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 harbor.

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) said 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, pointed 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.

Maritime Reporter August 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

BSEE Conducts Oil Spill Response Equipment Review

Earlier this week, BSEE's Oil Spill Response Division (OSRD) conducted an onsite review of oil spill response equipment listed in DCOR, LLC's Oil Spill Response Plan for platforms offshore Long Beach,

New Shipping Agency Enters the Market

Newly formed shipping agency Wave Shipping aims to bring change to current industry practice with its differentiated value proposition Founded by Lars Rosenkrands,

Chevron Announces Alliance with Petrol Ofisi

Chevron has signed agreements with the fuel products distribution and lubricants company of Turkey, Petrol Ofisi in Istanbul, that will result in improved supplies

Tanker Trends

Algeria in Talks to Export Crude to Venezuela

Algeria is in talks to export crude oil to fellow OPEC member Venezuela, Algerian Energy Minister Youcef Yousfi said on Tuesday, confirming a Reuters report. Last week,

Joe Barton: Lift Oil Export Ban

A senior U.S. Congressman from Texas has come out in full support of the United States lifting the 40-year old ban on crude oil exports, putting him at odds with

Russia's Shipping Major Reports Strong 1H 2014

OAO Sovcomflot (SCF Group), Russia’s largest shipping company and a global leader in seaborne energy transportation and offshore services, has announced its financial

Ports

Algeria in Talks to Export Crude to Venezuela

Algeria is in talks to export crude oil to fellow OPEC member Venezuela, Algerian Energy Minister Youcef Yousfi said on Tuesday, confirming a Reuters report. Last week,

New Shipping Agency Enters the Market

Newly formed shipping agency Wave Shipping aims to bring change to current industry practice with its differentiated value proposition Founded by Lars Rosenkrands,

Tankship-specific Version of FindaportCD Released

Harbour & terminal information providers, Shipping Guides Ltd, says its latest tanker-specific  addition enables customers to access the most comprehensive port

News

BSEE Conducts Oil Spill Response Equipment Review

Earlier this week, BSEE's Oil Spill Response Division (OSRD) conducted an onsite review of oil spill response equipment listed in DCOR, LLC's Oil Spill Response Plan for platforms offshore Long Beach,

New Bulk Carrier Design Puts Ecoships in the Lotus Position

Ecoships, the technical shipmanagement arm of Newport Shipping Group, has introduced a next generation bulk carrier design, developed to set the standard in ecologically

Polar Code Afoot

The IMO is on the verge of adopting the Polar Code, something that is important and long overdue. The International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations,

Maritime Safety

SCI Sets Its Sights on Scandinavia

Survival Craft Inspectorate (SCI), a global provider of emergency marine evacuation systems, has appointed two new distributors as the business targets growth opportunities in Scandinavia.

Firefighting at Sea Training Launched

Fighting a fire at sea is one of the greatest dangers facing seafarers. As a result, Videotel, a provider of maritime e-Learning and part of KVH Industries, Inc.

EU Warship Provides Seychelles CG Training

EU Naval Force Warship 'FGS Berlin' has conducted local maritime capacity building in the Seychelles informs EUCAP Nestor. Three Local Maritime Capacity Building

Government Update

Polar Code Afoot

The IMO is on the verge of adopting the Polar Code, something that is important and long overdue. The International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations,

Algeria in Talks to Export Crude to Venezuela

Algeria is in talks to export crude oil to fellow OPEC member Venezuela, Algerian Energy Minister Youcef Yousfi said on Tuesday, confirming a Reuters report. Last week,

Joe Barton: Lift Oil Export Ban

A senior U.S. Congressman from Texas has come out in full support of the United States lifting the 40-year old ban on crude oil exports, putting him at odds with

Insurance

MN 100: Gencorp Insurance Group

16 Main Street East Greenwich, RI 02818 Telephone: 401 336 2182 E-mail: rcarnahan@gencorp-ins.com Website: www.gencorp-ins.com CEO/President: Robert G. Padula Number

Panama Canal: The Billion Dollar Challenge

Panama Canal expansion will cost operators, insurers As the Panama Canal prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary, insurers are warning of the increased risks

Pine Galaxy to Arrive SF Bay Wednesday

The disabled mixed-products tanker Pine Galaxy is expected to arrive in San Francisco Wednesday morning. The ship is being towed by commercial tug to San Francisco Bay.

 
 
Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Offshore Oil Pipelines Port Authority Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Repair Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2605 sec (4 req/sec)