IACS Issues Port of Refuge Recommendations

MSC Flaminia
MSC Flaminia

By MarEx 2016-05-27 19:45:22

For vessels in distress or in need of assistance there can sometimes be a need to find an appropriate place of refuge to stabilize or repair the vessel and prevent a situation from worsening.

Following a further round of discussions on places of refuge at the IMO last week, prompted by a submission from the E.U. Member States (see below), the European Commission, shipowners and the maritime insurance industry, the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) has published recommendations addressing the minimum support services for vessels in need of operational technical support, including vessels in need of a port of refuge.

The IACS recommendations will be of value to all shipowners, operators and managers when choosing an emergency response service provider by clearly establishing the minimum level of support the service provider can be expected to deliver, says IACS Secretary General, Robert Ashdown.

By choosing a service provider that meets all the IACS recommendations, shipowners, operators and managers can be confident that the provider will have the required capability to both comply with relevant national and international regulations and guidelines as well provide effective and rapid technical assistance to a ship in a casualty situation.

In a ship emergency, a safe course of action to protect the ship, crew, cargo and the marine environment may not be obvious. A ship’s crew and management need rapid precise technical information on the behavior of the ship after the casualty as well as information on the consequences of any proposed remedial actions.

The aim of an emergency response service is to provide rapid technical assistance to Masters and other authorities in a casualty situation by assessing the damage stability and residual longitudinal strength of the ship.

This assistance can only be provided rapidly if:
•    A 24 hour all year round emergency response service is available 
•    The calculation results can be provided rapidly by using computer programs 
•    Models of the ship are prepared in advance

E.U. Operational Guidelines tabled at IMO

Following recent maritime incidents involving ships in distress in waters outside the jurisdiction of any state, notably the MSC Flaminia, the member states of the European Union, together with the European Commission and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), set out to review the framework for cooperation and coordination among national authorities, as well as with other parties involved in such cases, aiming to improve the existing arrangements. 

This led to the establishment of an expert group comprising authorities in the E.U. in close consultation with relevant industry associations. One of the tasks has been to develop and test the E.U. operational guidelines on places of refuge which were shared at IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee meeting in May (MSC 96). The operational guidelines were tested in 2015 and put into use in January 2016.

The IACS recommendations are available here.
The E.U. operational guidelines are available here.