Maritime Community Raises Casualty Report Concerns

 

June 2013

 

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The international maritime community is raising concerns about the failure of certain flag states to submit reports on maritime casualties that are required by international conventions.

 

In a joint submission to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) called on the IMO to consider the issue at its next Maritime Safety Commission meeting in June. The IMO is an agency within the United Nations that addresses safety and security within the international maritime community.

 

ITF Acting General Secretary Stephen Cotton said the issue is of grave importance, adding a lack of casualty reporting by some flag states could endanger mariners in the future.

 

“The lack of investigation and accident reports hinders the development of appropriate measures by the IMO to address the cause of serious accidents in which seafarers may have lost their lives,” Cottons aid.

 

ICS Secretary General Peter Hinchliffe added, “It also frustrates efforts by ship operators to learn from the reports and to amend or develop new procedures, or implement other measures to prevent or mitigate similar future accidents.”

 

Vessels are required by various maritime conventions – including the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) – to submit reports following a “very serious marine casualty.” Those situations include a death, the loss of a ship or severe damage to the environment. Under SOLAS, maritime administrations undertake investigations into any casualties occurring to ships under their flag and supply the IMO with information on the findings of those investigations.

 

A high-profile example of the casualty reporting problem could be seen recently with the case of the cruise ship Costa Concordia in Italy. Thirty-two people were killed in January 2012 when the ship hit a reef off the shore of Tuscany, Italy.

 

While flag states are required to submit casualty reports within one year, Italy is set to submit its final report on the Concordia 18 months after the incident.

 

The ITF and ICS have emphasized giving greater consideration to what could be considered a “very serious marine casualty” and how much latitude certain flag states have in determining if the results of an investigation should be handed over to the IMO.

 

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