February 13 – 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) 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.
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.”
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.