Shipowners and seafarers' unions joined forces to express concern at flag states’ failure to submit maritime casualty reports as required under international Conventions.
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), which represents 80% of the world merchant fleet, and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), which represents seafarers’ unions worldwide, have made a joint submission to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) commenting on the apparent failure of some flag states to submit maritime casualty reports to IMO. This is a requirement under several international maritime Conventions, including the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS).
ICS and ITF hope that governments will give consideration to this important issue at the next meeting of the IMO Maritime Safety Committee in June.
In accordance with SOLAS regulation I/21, maritime administrations undertake to conduct investigations into any casualty occurring to ships under their flag, and to supply IMO with pertinent information concerning the findings of such investigations.
In accordance with other Guidelines adopted by IMO, this is meant to include incidents defined as being a "very serious marine casualty" involving the total loss of the ship, a death or severe damage to the environment.
“The lack of investigation and accident reports hinders the development of appropriate measures by IMO to address the cause of serious incidents in which seafarers may have lost their lives,” said ITF Acting General Secretary, Stephen Cotton.
“It also frustrates efforts by ship operators to learn from the reports and to amend or develop new procedures, or implement other measures to prevent or mitigate similar future incidents,” said ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe.
ICS and ITF therefore suggested that further consideration might be given by IMO to what constitutes “a very serious marine casualty” and the extent to which flag states should retain the latitude which they currently enjoy when determining whether the results of any investigation should be submitted to IMO.
As a first step, they have suggested that, in consultation with ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organization), IMO might consider whether any lessons might be learnt from the approach taken towards the submission and dissemination of accident reports within the aviation industry.