The Hong Kong Maritime Authority has issued a new Shipping Notice to advise all parties concerned of the revised IMO Guidance on alerting of search and rescue authorities, highlighting how important is to notify SAR authorities when an emergency situations occurs.
In particular, last November, the IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), at its 106th session. approved the circular MSC.1/Circ.892/Rev.1 with a view to providing guidance to ensure early notification of SAR authorities when involved in emergency situations.
According to the circular, it is essential to enable shore-based facilities to respond without delay to any situation which constitutes, or has the potential to constitute, a danger to life.
This circular becomes effective on 1 January 2024, superseding MSC/Circ.892 as from that date.
The Hong Kong Maritime Authority advises shipowners, ship managers, ship operators, ship masters and classification societies of Hong Kong registered ships to take notice the guidance and act accordingly.
Overall, it is essential that the SAR co-ordinating authority be informed immediately of: all maritime SAR incidents; any situation which may develop into a SAR incident; and any incident which may involve or lead to danger to life, the environment or to property which may require action from the SAR services and/or other authorities.
It is always best to consider the ‘worst-case scenario’ and to alert the SAR organisation accordingly. Depending on the circumstances, the co-ordinating authority may choose to alert or despatch SAR facilities as a precautionary measure and/or to reduce transit times. If assistance is not subsequently required, any such positive response can be easily curtailed. But time lost through delays in notification can never be regained.