A 10-point plan for more effective ship casualty response has been put forward by the International Salvage Union
(ISU). The plan includes a proposal for an advanced EU “Casualty Response Database”, capable of real-time tracking of large salvage tugs and other key salvage assets.
Speaking at the Barcelona Shipping Law Forum today, ISU President Joop Timmermans said
: “Some of these measures can be put into place very quickly. Others are for the longer term. All 10, however, would make a useful contribution to improved casualty response.
The 10 measures put forward by the ISU President are as follows:
· Measure 1: EU adoption of the UK Command and Control model, based around a Ministerial Representative (the “SOSREP” in the UK). Joop Timmermans said: “The bigger the pollution threat, the higher up the political ladder the decision-making – and the top of that ladder is very far away from those who understand ship casualties and salvage. The British approach is simple. Only two individuals are involved. The Salvage Master gets on with the job and the Ministerial Representative – who understands salvage and represents the public interest – can intervene if he is not satisfied. This is a rational basis for quick and sound decision-making.”
· Measure 2: swift EU action to implement the June 2002 Maritime Monitoring, Control and Information Directive – which includes an obligation to identify places of refuge for ship casualties and, in addition, to implement new International Maritime Organization (IMO) guidelines in this area.
· Measure 3: would require an IMO decision to “fast-track” the work now under way to develop the International Guidelines on Places of Refuge. Joop Timmermans said: “We need leadership from the IMO Secretary-General, to push through extraordinary action to accelerate this vital project. We can’t afford to wait until the end of next year, or 2004.”
· Measure 4: Establishment of an ISU Task Force, to work alongside the IMO Group on Places of Refuge. Professional salvage expertise would be used, to develop a risk assessment model for improved decision-making when confronted with a major pollution threat. This model would take account of key variables: vessel type, cargo carried, degree of damage, water ingress, cargo leakage, fire, position in relation to the coast, availability of main engines, environmental vulnerabilities, tug availability, weather and other parameters.
· Measure 5: “No rejection without inspection.” Joop Timmermans said: “There should be no decision on a request for shelter without physical appraisal of the casualty. This means boarding the casualty!”
· Measure 6: Consideration of the consequences of rejection of a request for shelter for a damaged vessel. The ISU President said: “A risk assessment must show that a solution other than shelter is the best environmental option.”
· Measure 7: Establishment of an expert panel, to help governments identify the best environmental option when confronted with an imminent pollution threat. The panel would include experts in salvage, spill behaviour, environmental impact and clean-up.
· Measure 8: Construction of an EU Casualty Response Database. Joop Timmermans said: “Perhaps, in the not too distant future, it will be possible to introduce a system with real-time awareness of the location and availability of key salvage assets.”
· Measure 9: Centres on the new European Maritime Safety Agency. The ISU suggests that, as a matter of priority, the new agency should undertake an assessment of salvage provision in EU waters, “to ensure coverage is adequate.”
· Measure 10: A review of the case for new salvage standby schemes, to protect vulnerable coastlines.