5. Shipmasters

  1. 1 SAR services throughout the world depend on ships at sea to assist persons in distress. It is impossible to arrange SAR services that depend totally upon dedicated shore-based rescue units to provide timely assistance to all persons in distress at sea. Shipmasters have certain duties that must be carried out in order to provide for safety of life at sea, preserve the integrity of global SAR services of which they are part, and to comply with humanitarian and legal obligations. In this regard, shipmasters should:


.1            understand and heed obligations under international law to assist persons in distress at sea (such assistance should always be carried out without regard to the nationality or status of the persons in distress, or to the circumstances in which they are found);

.2            do everything possible, within the capabilities and limitations of the ship, to treat the survivors humanely and to meet their immediate needs;

.3            carry out SAR duties in accordance with the provisions of Volume III of the IAMSAR Manual;

.4            in a case where the RCC responsible for the area where the survivors are recovered cannot be contacted, attempt to contact another RCC, or if that is impractical, any other Government authority that may be able to assist, while recognizing that responsibility still rests with the RCC of the area in which the survivors are recovered;

.5            keep the RCC informed about conditions, assistance needed, and actions taken or planned for the survivors (see paragraph 6.10 regarding other information the RCC may wish to obtain);

.6            seek to ensure that survivors are not disembarked to a place where their safety would be further jeopardized; and

.7            comply with any relevant requirements of the Government responsible for the SAR region where the survivors were recovered, or of another responding coastal State, and seek additional guidance from those authorities where difficulties arise in complying with such requirements.


5.2 In order to more effectively contribute to safety of life at sea, ships are urged to participate in ship reporting systems established for the purpose of facilitating SAR operations.


Source : MSC.167(78)