Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
The recent increase in migrant crossings from France to England across one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, the English Channel, has prompted calls within the UK to increase sea patrols and prevent crossings. This was reported by Human Rights at Sea on 28 December.
Nonetheless, the issue should not be unexpected for the UK Border Force as the inevitability of exploitation of those fleeing war-torn countries by criminal gangs and human traffickers is not exclusive to North African and southern European States. The position taken by the Italian authorities whereby the alleged presence of vessels capable of rescue being viewed as an attraction to migrants is now a fear expressed by UK authorities in recent days.
A question asked at the end of 2018 was: Are UK authorities ready to receive increasing numbers of migrants making the crossing, and have they taken all necessary precautions to protect the rights of those rescued at sea?
Earlier in 2018 Felicity Landon reported in Port Strategy on the issue of migrants afloat when she wrote an article titled: A Safe Haven Without Exception relating to the preparedness of ports for the reception of migrants.
Her article may be read here: https://www.portstrategy.com/news101/port-operations/port-services/A-safe-haven-without-exception
David Hammond, founder and trustee of the charity Human Rights at Sea, commented at the time: ‘The obligation for ports is to uphold human rights at every stage and ensure the safety of all people in the port, including port workers and passengers passing through.
‘This issue cuts across fundamental human rights. People who are rescued at sea are entitled to all the same human rights protection as those who rescue them and those who run the port. They are not second or third-class citizens.’
A Rescue at Sea guide produced by the IMO, the ICS and the UNHCR in 2015 and still available focuses on the principles and practice relating to refugees and migrants.
It states: ‘Governments have to co-ordinate and co-operate to ensure that masters of ships providing assistance by embarking persons in distress at sea are released from their obligations with minimum further deviation from the ship’s intended voyage, and have to arrange disembarkation as soon as reasonably practicable.’
A copy may be seen here:
Opened by Agnes Wong Tin-yu, Director of Marine for Hong Kong SAR, today’s Nautical Institute International Conference 2019 gave rise to a lively and stimulating debate on the subject of Shiphandling.
Held at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, the morning session included presentations on the legal consequences of shiphandling incidents, special considerations for handling large tankers, handling ships in heavy weather and how digital technologies support command decisions in shiphandling.
In the afternoon delegates were invited to consider the role of simulator and computer based training in shiphandling and also heard from senior pilots working at the ports of Shanghai and Shenzhen. The closing presentation from Capt Stephen Wong of the Hong Kong Pilots Association focused on changes in shiphandling techniques in Hong Kong harbour.
Addressing delegates, Capt Nick Nash FNI president of The Nautical Institute, said:
”Shiphandling is obviously one of the core skills for any shipmaster. This conference has given us all further insights into this skill and the repercussions if we get it wrong!”
“Training is the key, along with proper mentoring while at sea. The collaboration and integration of Bridge teams, Pilots and VTS, while making full use of new technologies will ensure that shiphandling lies at the heart of safety and best practice in the maritime industry.”
Early in June two warships from the Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1), Turkish frigate TCG Gokova and from the Royal Navy HMS Westminster successfully completed an important training mission in support of joint warfighting logistics. Our illustration has been kindly provided by
NATO Maritime Command (MARCOM) © www.mc.nato.int/media-centre/news
It was reported from NATO Maritime Command at Northwood, NW London, that the two NATO ships escorted a civilian cargo vessel, mv Gute through high- traffic sea lanes during her transit from Norway to Sczecin, Poland carrying Norwegian military equipment for NATO exercise Noble Jump.
The safety and security of sea-based trade and transportation routes is critical to the prosperity of the Baltic nations and the NATO Alliance.
Escort training, such as that practiced by Gokova and Westminster, enhances interoperability among NATO and commercial shipping and provides reassurance to NATO allies and partners that NATO is capable and ready to maintain freedom of navigation in the Baltic Sea.