The Panama Maritime Authority issued a Merchant Marine Circular, setting forth current rules and regulations on marine accident investigations.
Rules and Regulations under Resolution No. 106-135-DGMM of September 9th, 2013, establish that the Maritime Affairs Investigation Department is the Special Unit in charge of investigating marine accidents and incidents.
The Rules and Regulations set forth that the purpose of all investigations shall not be to practice criminal, civil, or administrative actions; for which they will only be subject for the purposes established in the Code for the Investigation of Marine Casualties and Incidents adopted by the IMO.
These Rules and Regulations empower the Maritime Affairs Investigation Department to confiscate or withdraw, in the course of their investigations, the Log Book, equipment, licenses, documents, books, registries or vessel parts, with the whole purpose of executing a proper investigation.
Also, it empowers the Maritime Affairs Investigation Department to request all personnel onboard a Panamanian registered vessel or any foreign registered vessels which are within the territorial waters of the Republic of Panama, operators, or individuals directly or indirectly involved in a marine accident or incident, so that they testify or be interrogated, either verbally or in writing, in reference to the marine accident or incident.
All Masters, property owners, or operators of vessels which have suffered a marine accident or incident, shall maintain and keep all entries or materials relevant to the voyage, and must cooperate with the investigation.
All Recognized Organizations, as well as all marine safety inspectors directly or indirectly involved in a marine accident or incident, may be called to render statements, and they must provide all the entries and documents which shall be required to carry out the investigation of the marine accident or incident.
In the event owners, operators, masters, crew members and officers, or recognized organizations, do not comply with their duties and obligations to duly cooperate with the investigation or to inform whenever a marine accident or incident occurs, will be subject to the sanctions imposed by Law.
The General Directorate of Merchant Marine shall establish the necessary procedures or mechanisms to carry out adequate investigations of marine accidents or incidents, including the application of administrative restrictions against Panamanian registered vessels which become involved in a marine accident or incident.
In the event of marine accidents or incidents involving Panamanian registered vessels or marine accidents or incidents involving foreign vessel within Panamanian jurisdictional waters, owners/operators or masters shall immediately give notice thereof to the Maritime Affairs Investigation Department.