- Category: IMRF Mixed Migrant Safety Project - Aegean Sea
"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?