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.
A mass rescue operation – indeed, any incident beyond everyday capability – is a challenge for any State and any SAR organisation; but this is particularly so for small States and organisations, whose planning and response capabilities are naturally limited. A cruise ship accident in the Caribbean, for example, where many such ships trade, is a very rare event, but still a possible one. Rarity is part of the problem.
Thus the scene is set by the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF see: www.international-maritime-rescue.org ).
This then begs a question
How do you prepare for such huge, once-in-a-career challenges?
In the UK IMRF Member the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), an executive agency of the UK Government, takes this question very seriously.
The UK has a number of Overseas Territories* most of which are very small but all have responsibilities under international law to prepare for SAR response. Here the MCA organised an Overseas Territories Search and Rescue (OTSAR) Capability Project with, it is understood, the purpose of reviewing and improving existing search and rescue capabilities within and across the Caribbean and South Atlantic Overseas Territories.
As a part of the project the MCA and their UK Overseas Territories partners have considered the necessary preparations to handle mass rescues.
In late January representatives of the Caribbean territories – the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Anguilla, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands – met with MCA staff in Miami to discuss mass rescue operations.
At IMRF’s the Mass Rescue Operations manager, David Jardine-Smith, was among the outside experts invited to address the meeting. He introduced participants to the IMRF’s online library of information on mass rescue operations, to be found at: www.imrfmro.org and invited them to use this information to help them learn from others’ experience of these very challenging events.
Among the OTSAR Project’s overall objectives are the following – which the IMRF supports as important to SAR development anywhere in the world:
The January mass rescue event in Miami was due to be followed by another meeting at which the participants aimed to test their planning in tabletop exercises. These were due to conducted with the assistance of United States Coast Guard and French experts from the region as well as the MCA team.
It is understood that the IMRF has invited the OTSAR Project’s Operational Lead, Philipp Bostock, and representatives of the territories concerned to attend the World Maritime Rescue Congress in Vancouver in June and share their experiences of this valuable SAR development project.
Details of the Vancouver Congress are to be found here: www.wmrc2019.com
*The UK Overseas Territories are: Anguilla; Bermuda; British Antarctic Territory; British Indian Ocean Territory; British Virgin Islands; Cayman Islands; Falkland Islands; Gibraltar; Montserrat; Pitcairn Islands; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; Turks and Caicos Islands.
At its 2019 AGM held in the Faroe Islands in week ending 15 June representatives of the world’s national shipowners’ associations reviewed the priorities of the global shipowners’ association, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).
Sadly, the ICS Annual General Meeting was overshadowed by the attacks against two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and the very serious threat this presents to the lives of seafarers and maritime trade.
Action on CO2 Reduction
ICS agreed a suite of actions in support of the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) strategy to decarbonise international shipping in line with the United Nations 1.5 degree climate change goal.
Speaking from the Faroe Islands, ICS Chairman, Esben Poulsson (illustrated) said: ‘It is imperative that IMO Member States adopt a new global regulation to mandate further short term CO2 reduction measures at the next session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee in 2020. This should deliver further CO2 reductions by 2023 to help us meet the IMO target set for 2030. We will work with a broad coalition of governments to produce a comprehensive proposal that can be submitted to IMO in September this year.’
Pan-European multimodal service provider Samskip have indicated experience gained up to 31 March 2019 find it fully prepared for a North Sea container traffic surge, as attitudes harden in the run up to October’s revised UK Brexit deadline. (An illustration of Samskip’s traffic is provided here with thanks ©)
Europe’s largest multimodal transport group by freight volume reports that it expects UK exporters and importers to start switching away from trailers and towards containerisation, repeating a trend established in the run-up to the original deadline for Brexit of 31 March this year.
David Besseling, Samskip UK Trade Manager commented: ‘We saw a significant push in container volumes up to March 2019, especially into Hull, as decision-makers facing uncertainty opted for the reliability and proven procedures of container shipping. Concerns over supply chain security are fast re-emerging.’
Besseling reflected that stockpiling contributed to the earlier traffic surge, but added that the experience also confirmed robustness in new Hull-Ghent and Hull-Amsterdam links established by Samskip at the end of 2018. The services add to existing high-frequency connections between Rotterdam, Tilbury, Hull and Grangemouth.