"The master of a ship at sea which is in a position to be able to provide assistance, on receiving information from any source that persons are in distress at sea, is bound to proceed with all speed to their assistance…."
So begins Chapter V Regulation 33 of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention: international law, ratified by very nearly all maritime States. SOLAS Chapter V applies “unless expressly provided otherwise […] to all ships on all voyages”. The exceptions are few: Government vessels such as warships – which are nevertheless “encouraged” to comply – and (perhaps rather oddly) “ships solely navigating the Great Lakes of North America […]”
To be clear, then, all vessels at sea, with some clear exceptions, are obliged under international law to assist “persons in distress at sea”. Indeed, this was been seafaring tradition for centuries. So what is there to discuss?
PAC Sara Muir ,Deputy Public Affairs Officer, D14 Command Enlisted Advisor Coast Guard 14th District writes:
When a mariner is found at sea it is no accident. In fact it is often the result of hours of deliberate search and rescue planning and continually nurtured partnerships across jurisdictions and borders. Search and rescue governance is an important element in the Pacific where vast distances and limited resources make saving lives all the more challenging.
The Pacific Search and Rescue Steering Committee
The committee is a collective of search and rescue agencies from five principle nations; Australia, Fiji, France, New Zealand and the United States. These nations hold responsibility for significant search and rescue regions of the Central and South Eastern Pacific. Each nation is committed to working with neighboring countries or territories within or near their areas of responsibility to build SAR response capability. Communally, the committee is working to build SAR capability and cooperation across the Pacific to work together seamlessly to save lives.
29 June-1 July 2017, Casablanca, Morocco was the venue for the annual meetings of the North and West Africa and West Africa Regional SAR Committees.
The three days of meetings provided an opportunity for the countries to update developments since the 2016 meeting. Mr Mohammed Drissi of Morocco, Chairman of the North and West Committee and coordinating the IMRF Global SAR Development project in Africa, provided an overview of the regional achievements over 2015-2016 with 10 Regional SAR Development Meetings, 19 SAR Training courses and 210 people trained.
The closing date for the IMRF H.E.R.O. Awards is THIS FRIDAY
Friday 28 July 2017, is the last day to nominate any unsung maritime heroes in the International Maritime Rescue Federation H.E.R.O. (Honouring Excellence in Rescue Operations) Awards, visit www.imrfhero.org now, to enter your nomination before it’s too late.
Launched last year, the IMRF has already received nominations from around the world, from friends, family and work colleagues wanting to recognise people close to them, who have done something exceptional in the field of search and rescue (SAR).
This year’s nominations are as international as last years and include nominations for teams, individuals and technological innovations that have all saved lives over the last year.
Sheds Light on the Protection of Maritime Rescue Services in Times of Armed Conflict
On 4 May 2017, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) made available online (new window) its updated Commentary on the Second Geneva Convention of 1949 (GC II). The Commentary provides a detailed explanation of each of the provisions of GC II, seeking to reflect contemporary practice and legal interpretations.
Directly relevant to coastal search and rescue (SAR) institutions and organizations, the updated Commentary sheds light on the protection maritime rescue services enjoy in times of armed conflict and the conditions they must satisfy to avail themselves of that protection (Art 27).
GC II is the second of four conventions which, together with their Additional Protocols of 1977, constitute the bedrock of international humanitarian law (IHL). IHL is a body of law that applies only in times of armed conflict, regulating the conduct of hostilities and providing for the protection of persons and objects who do not, or no longer, participate in hostilities.
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