on Maritime Search and Rescue, 1979
(Hamburg, 27 April 1979)
THE PARTIES TO THE CONVENTION,
NOTING the great importance attached
in several conventions to the rendering of assistance to persons in distress
at sea and to the establishment by every coastal State of adequate and
effective arrangements for coast watching and for search and rescue services,
HAVING CONSIDERED Recommendation 40
adopted by the International Conference on Safety of Life at Sea, 1960,
which recognizes the desirability of co-ordinating activities regarding
safety on and over the sea among a number of inter-governmental organizations,
DESIRING to develop and promote these
activities by establishing an international maritime search and rescue
plan responsible to the needs of maritime traffic for the rescue of persons
in distress at sea,
WISHING to promote co-operation among
search and rescue organizations around the world and among those participating
in search and rescue operations at sea.
HAVE AGREED as follows:
General obligations under the Convention
The Parties undertake to adopt all legislative
or other appropriate measures necessary to give full effect to the Convention
and its Annex, which is an integral part of the Convention. Unless expressly
provided otherwise, a reference to the Convention constitutes at the same
time a reference to its Annex.
Other treaties and interpretation
1. Nothing in the Convention shall prejudice
the codification and development of the law of the sea by the United Nations
Conference on the Law of the Sea convened pursuant to resolution 2750(XXV)
of the General Assembly of the United Nations nor the present or future
claims and legal views of any State concerning the law of the sea and the
nature and extent of coastal and flag State jurisdiction.
2. No provision of the Convention shall be
construed as prejudicing obligations or rights of vessels provided for
in other international instruments.
1. The Convention may be amended by either
of the procedures specified in paragraphs 2 and 3 hereinafter.
2. Amendment after consideration within the
Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (hereinafter referred
to as the Organization):
(a) Any amendment proposed by a Party and
transmitted to the Secretary-General of the Organization (hereinafter referred
to as the Secretary-General), or any amendment deemed necessary by the
Secretary-General as a result of an amendment to a corresponding provision
of Annex 12 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, shall be
circulated to all Members of the Organization and all Parties at least
six months prior to its consideration by the Maritime Safety Committee
of the Organization.
(b) Parties, whether or not Members of the
Organization, shall be entitled to participate in the proceedings of the
Maritime Safety Committee for the consideration and adoption of amendments.
(c) Amendments shall be adopted by a two-thirds
majority of the Parties present and voting in the Maritime Safety Committee
on condition that at least one third of the Parties shall be present at
the time of adoption of the amendment.
(d) Amendments adopted in accordance with
sub-paragraph (c) shall be communicated by the Secretary-General to all
Parties for acceptance.
(e) An amendment to an Article or to paragraphs
2.1.4, 2.1.5, 2.1.7, 2.1.10, 3.1.2 or 3.1.3 of the Annex shall be deemed
to have been accepted on the date on which the Secretary-General has received
an instrument of acceptance from two thirds of the Parties.
(f) An amendment to the Annex other than to
paragraphs 2.1.4, 2.1.5, 2.1.7, 2.1.10, 3.1.2 or 3.1.3 shall be deemed
to have been accepted at the end of one year from the date on which it
is communicated to the Parties for acceptance. However, if within such
period of one year more than one third of the Parties notify the Secretary-General
that they object to the amendment, it shall be deemed not to have been
(g) An amendment to an Article or to paragraphs
2.1.4, 2.1.5, 2.1.7, 2.1.10, 3.1.2 or 3.1.3 of the Annex shall enter into
(i) with respect to those Parties which have
accepted it, six months after the date on which it is deemed to have been
(ii) with respect to those Parties which accept
it after the condition mentioned in sub-paragraph (e) has been met and
before the amendment enters into force, on the date of entry into force
of the amendment;
(iii) with respect to those Parties which
accept it after the date on which the amendment enters into force, 30 days
after the deposit of an instrument of acceptance.
(h) An amendment to the Annex other than to
paragraphs 2.1.4, 2.1.5, 2.1.7, 2.1.10, 3.1.2 or 3.1.3 shall enter into
force with respect to all Parties, except those which have objected to
the amendment under sub-paragraph (f) and which have not withdrawn such
objections, six months after the date on which it is deemed to have been
accepted. However, before the date set for entry into force, any Party
may give notice to the Secretary-General that it exempts itself from giving
effect to that amendment for a period not longer than one year from the
date of its entry into force, or for such longer period as may be determined
by a two-thirds majority of the Parties present and voting in the Maritime
Safety Committee at the time of the adoption of the amendment.
3. Amendment by a conference:
(a) Upon the request of a Party concurred
in by at least one third of the Parties, the Organization shall convene
a conference of Parties to consider amendments to the Convention. Proposed
amendments shall be circulated by the Secretary-General to all Parties
at least six months prior to their consideration by the conference.
(b) Amendments shall be adopted by such a
conference by a two-thirds majority of the Parties present and voting,
on condition that at least one third of the Parties shall be present at
the time of adoption of the amendment. Amendments so adopted shall be communicated
by the Secretary-General to all Parties for acceptance.
(c) Unless the conference decides otherwise,
the amendment shall be deemed to have been accepted and shall enter into
force in accordance with the procedures specified in sub-paragraphs 2(e),
2(f), 2(g) and 2(h) respectively, provided that reference in sub-paragraph
2(h) to the Maritime Safety Committee expanded in accordance with sub-paragraph
2(b) shall be taken to mean reference to the conference.
4. Any declaration of acceptance of, or objection
to, an amendment or any notice given under sub-paragraph 2(h) shall be
submitted in writing to the Secretary-General who shall inform all Parties
of any such submission and the date of its receipt.
5. The Secretary-General shall inform States
of any amendments which enter into force, together with the date on which
each such amendment enters into force.
Signature, ratification, acceptance approval
1. The Convention shall remain open for signature
at the Headquarters of the Organization from 1 November 1979 until 31 October
1980 and shall thereafter remain open for accession. States may become
Parties to the Convention by:
(a) signature without reservation as to ratification,
acceptance or approval; or
(b) signature subject to ratification, acceptance
or approval, followed by ratification, acceptance or approval; or
2. Ratification, acceptance, approval or accession
shall be effected by the deposit of an instrument to that effect with the
3. The Secretary-General shall inform States
of any signature or of the deposit of any instrument of ratification, acceptance,
approval or accession and the date of its deposit.
Entry into force
1. The Convention shall enter into force 12
months after the date on which 15 States have become Parties to it in accordance
with Article IV.
2. Entry into force for States which ratify,
accept, approve or accede to the Convention in accordance with Article
IV after the condition prescribed in paragraph 1 has been met and before
the Convention enters into force, shall be on the date of entry into force
of the Convention.
3. Entry into force for States which ratify,
accept, approve or accede to the Convention after the date on which the
Convention enters into force shall be 30 days after the date of deposit
of an instrument in accordance with Article IV.
4. Any instrument of ratification, acceptance,
approval or accession deposited after the date of entry into force of an
amendment to the Convention in accordance with Article III shall apply
to Convention, as amended, and the Convention, as amended, shall enter
into force for a State depositing such an instrument 30 days after the
date of its deposit.
5. The Secretary-General shall inform States
of the date of entry into force of the Convention.
1. The Convention may be denounced by any
Party at any time after the expiry of five years from the date on which
the Convention enters into force for that Party.
2. Denunciation shall be effected by the deposit
of an instrument of denunciation with the Secretary-General who shall notify
States of any instrument of denunciation received and of the date of its
receipt as well as the date on which such denunciation takes effect.
3. A denunciation shall take effect one year,
or such longer period as may be specified in the instrument of denunciation,
after its receipt by the Secretary-General.
Deposit and registration
1. The Convention shall be deposited with
the Secretary-General who shall transmit certified true copies thereof
2. As soon as the Convention enters into force,
the Secretary-General shall transmit the text thereof to the Secretary-General
of the United Nations for registration and publication, in accordance with
Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations.
The Convention is established in a single
copy in the Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish languages, each
text being equally authentic. Official translations in the Arabic, German
and Italian languages shall be prepared and deposited with the signed original.
DONE AT HAMBURG this twenty-seventh
day of April one thousand nine hundred and seventy-nine.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF the undersigned,
being duly authorized by their respective Governments for the purpose,
have signed the Convention.
TERMS AND DEFINITIONS
1.1 "Shall" is used in the Annex to indicate
a provision, the uniform application of which by all Parties is required
in the interest of safety of life at sea.
1.2 "Should" is used in the Annex to indicate
a provision, the uniform application of which by all Parties is recommended
in the interest of safety of life at sea.
1.3 The terms listed below are used in the
Annex with the following meanings:
.1 "Search and rescue region". An area of
defined dimensions within which search and rescue services are provided.
.2 "Rescue co-ordination centre". A unit responsible
for promoting efficient organization of search and rescue services and
for co-ordinating the conduct of search and rescue operations within a
search and rescue region.
.3 "Rescue sub-centre". A unit subordinate
to a rescue co-ordination centre established to complement the latter within
a specified area within a search and rescue region.
.4 "Coast watching unit". A land unit, stationary
or mobile, designated to maintain a watch on the safety of vessels in coastal
.5 "Rescue unit". A unit composed of trained
personnel and provided with equipment suitable for the expeditious conduct
of search and rescue operations.
.6 "On-scene commander". The commander of
a rescue unit designated to co-ordinate search and rescue operations within
a specified search area.
.7 "Co-ordinator surface search". A vessel,
other than a rescue unit, designated to co-ordinate surface search and
rescue operations within a specified search area.
.8 "Emergency phase". A generic term meaning,
as the case may be, uncertainty phase, alert phase or distress phase.
.9 "Uncertainty phase". A situation wherein
uncertainty exists as to the safety of a vessel and the persons on board.
.10 "Alert phase". A situation wherein apprehension
exists as to the safety of a vessel and of the persons on board.
.11 "Distress phase". A situation wherein
there is a reasonable certainty that a vessel or a person is threatened
by grave and imminent danger and requires immediate assistance.
.12 "To ditch". In the case of an aircraft,
to make a forced landing on water.
2.1 Arrangements for provision and co-ordination
of search and rescue services
2.1.1 Parties shall ensure that necessary
arrangements are made for the provision of adequate search and rescue services
for persons in distress at sea round their coasts.
2.1.2 Parties shall forward to the Secretary-General
information on their search and rescue organization and later alterations
of importance, including:
.1 national maritime search and rescue services;
.2 location of established rescue co-ordination
centres, their telephone and telex numbers and areas of responsibility;
.3 principal available rescue units at their
2.1.3 The Secretary-General shall in a suitable
way transmit to all Parties the information referred to in paragraph 2.1.2.
2.1.4 Each search and rescue region shall
be established by agreement among Parties concerned. The Secretary-General
shall be notified of such agreement.
2.1.5 In case agreement on the exact dimensions
of a search and rescue region is not reached by the Parties concerned,
those Parties shall use their best endeavours to reach agreement upon appropriate
arrangements under which the equivalent overall co-ordination of search
and rescue services is provided in the area. The Secretary-General shall
be notified of such arrangements.
2.1.6 The Secretary-General shall notify all
Parties of the agreements or arrangements referred to in paragraphs 2.1.4
2.1.7 The delimitation of search and rescue
regions is not related to and shall not prejudice the delimitation of any
boundary between States.
2.1.8 Parties should arrange that their search
and rescue services are able to give prompt response to distress calls.
2.1.9 On receiving information that a person
is in distress at sea in an area within which a Party provides for the
overall co-ordination of search and rescue operations, the responsible
authorities of that Party shall take urgent steps to provide the most appropriate
2.1.10 Parties shall ensure that assistance
be provided to any person in distress at sea. They shall do so regardless
of the nationality or status of such a person or the circumstances in which
that person is found.
2.2 Co-ordination of search and rescue facilities
2.2.1 Parties shall make provision for the
co-ordination of the facilities required to provide search and rescue services
round their coasts.
2.2.2 Parties shall establish a national machinery
for the overall co-ordination of search and rescue services.
2.3 Establishment of rescue co-ordination
centres and rescue sub-centres
2.3.1 To meet the requirements of paragraphs
2.2.1 and 2.2.2 Parties shall establish rescue co-ordination centres for
their search and rescue services and such rescue sub-centres as they consider
2.3.2 The competent authorities of each Party
shall determine the area for which a rescue sub-centre is responsible.
2.3.3. Each rescue co-ordination centre and
rescue sub-centre established in accordance with paragraph 2.3.1 shall
have adequate means for the receipt of distress communications via a coast
radio station or otherwise. Every such centre and sub-centre shall also
have adequate means for communication with its rescue units and with rescue
co-ordination centres or rescue sub-centres, as appropriate, in adjacent
2.4 Designation of rescue units
2.4.1 Parties shall designate either:
.1 as rescue units, State or other appropriate
public or private services suitably located and equipped, or parts thereof;
.2 as elements of the search and rescue organization,
State or other appropriate public or private services or parts thereof,
not suitable for designation as rescue units, but which are able to participate
in search and rescue operations, and shall define the functions of those
2.5 Facilities and equipment of rescue units
2.5.1 Each rescue unit shall be provided with
facilities and equipment appropriate to its task.
2.5.2 Each rescue unit should have rapid and
reliable means of communication with other units or elements engaged in
the same operation.
2.5.3 Containers or packages containing survival
equipment for dropping to survivors should have the general nature of their
contents indicated by a colour code in accordance with paragraph 2.5.4
and by printed indication and self-explanatory symbols, to the extent that
such symbols exist.
2.5.4 The colour identification of the contents
of droppable containers and packages containing survival equipment should
take the form of streamers coloured according to the following code:
.1 Red - medical supplies and first aid equipment;
.2 Blue - food and water;
.3 Yellow - blankets and protective clothing;
.4 Black - miscellaneous equipment such as
stoves, axes, compasses and cooking utensils.
2.5.5 Where supplies of a mixed nature are
dropped in one container or package, the colour code should be used in
2.5.6 Instructions on the use of the survival
equipment should be enclosed in each of the droppable containers or packages.
They should be printed in English and in at least two other languages.
3.1 Co-operation between States
3.1.1 Parties shall co-ordinate their search
and rescue organizations and should, whenever necessary, co-ordinate search
and rescue operations with those of neighbouring States.
3.1.2 Unless otherwise agreed between the
States concerned, a Party should authorize, subject to applicable national
laws, rules and regulations, immediate entry into or over its territorial
sea or territory of rescue units of other Parties solely for the purpose
of searching for the position of maritime casualties and rescuing the survivors
of such casualties. In such cases, search and rescue operations shall,
as far as practicable, be co-ordinated by the appropriate rescue co-ordination
centre of the Party which has authorized entry, or such other authority
as has been designated by that Party.
3.1.3 Unless otherwise agreed between the
States concerned, the authorities of a Party which wishes its rescue units
to enter into or over the territorial sea or territory of another Party
solely for the purpose of searching for the position of maritime casualties
and rescuing the survivors of such casualties, shall transmit a request,
giving full details of the projected mission and the need for it, to the
rescue co-ordination centre of that other Party, or to such other authority
as has been designated by that Party.
3.1.4 The competent authorities of Parties
.1 immediately acknowledge the receipt of
such a request; and
.2 as soon as possible indicate the conditions,
if any, under which the projected mission may be undertaken.
3.1.5 Parties should enter into agreements
with neighbouring States setting forth the conditions for entry of each
other's rescue units into or over their respective territorial sea or territory.
These agreements should also provide for expediting entry of such units
with the least possible formalities.
3.1.6 Each Party should authorize its rescue
.1 to request from other rescue co-ordination
centres such assistance, including vessels, aircraft, personnel or equipment,
as may be needed;
.2 to grant any necessary permission for the
entry of such vessels, aircraft, personnel or equipment into or over its
territorial sea or territory; and
.3 to make the necessary arrangements with
the appropriate customs, immigration or other authorities with a view to
expediting such entry.
3.1.7 Each Party should authorize its rescue
co-ordination centres to provide, when requested, assistance to other rescue
co-ordination centres, including assistance in the form of vessels, aircraft,
personnel or equipment.
3.1.8 Parties should enter into search and
rescue agreements with neighbouring States regarding the pooling of facilities,
establishment of common procedures, conduct of joint training and exercises,
regular checks of inter-State communication channels, liaison visits by
rescue co-ordination centre personnel and the exchange of search and rescue
3.2 Co-ordination with aeronautical services
3.2.1 Parties shall ensure the closest practicable
co-ordination between maritime and aeronautical services so as to provide
for the most effective and efficient search and rescue services in and
over their search and rescue regions.
3.2.2 Whenever practicable, each Party should
establish joint rescue co-ordination centres and rescue sub-centres to
serve both maritime and aeronautical purposes.
3.2.3 Whenever separate maritime and aeronautical
rescue co-ordination centres or rescue sub-centres are established to serve
the same area, the Party concerned shall ensure the closest practicable
co-ordination between the centres or sub-centres.
3.2.4 Parties shall ensure as far as is possible
the use of common procedures by rescue units established for maritime purposes
and those established for aeronautical purposes.
4.1 Requirements for information
4.1.1 Each rescue co-ordination centre and
rescue sub-centre shall have available up-to-date information relevant
to search and rescue operations in its area including information regarding:
.1 rescue units and coast watching units;
.2 any other public and private resources,
including transportation facilities and fuel supplies, that are likely
to be useful in search and rescue operations;
.3 means of communication that may be used
in search and rescue operations;
.4 names, cable and telex addresses, telephone
and telex numbers of shipping agents, consular authorities, international
organizations and other agencies who may be able to assist in obtaining
vital information on vessels;
.5 the locations, call signs or maritime mobile
service identities, hours of watch and frequencies of all radio stations
likely to be employed in search and rescue operations;
.6 the locations, call signs or maritime mobile
service identities, hours of watch and frequencies of all coast radio stations
disseminating meteorological forecasts and warnings for the search and
.7 the locations and hours of watch of services
keeping radio watch and the frequencies guarded;
.8 objects likely to be mistaken for unlocated
or unreported wreckage; and
.9 locations where supplies of droppable emergency
survival equipment are stored.
4.1.2 Each rescue co-ordination centre and
rescue sub-centre should have ready access to information regarding the
position, course, speed and call sign or ship station identity of vessels
within its area which may be able to provide assistance to vessels or persons
in distress at sea. This information shall either be kept in the rescue
co-ordination centre or be readily obtainable when necessary.
4.1.3 A large-scale map shall be provided
at each rescue co-ordination centre and rescue sub-centre for the purpose
of displaying and plotting information relevant to search and rescue operations
in its area.
4.2 Operating plans or instructions
4.2.1 Each rescue co-ordination centre and
rescue sub-centre shall prepare or have available detailed plans or instructions
for the conduct of search and rescue operations in its area.
4.2.2. The plans or instructions shall specify
arrangements for the servicing and refuelling, to the extent possible,
vessels, aircraft and vehicles employed in search and rescue operations,
including those made available by other States.
4.2.3 The plans or instructions should contain
details regarding action to be taken by those engaged in search and rescue
operations in the area, including:
.1 the manner in which search and rescue operations
are to be conducted;
.2 the use of available communications systems
.3 the action to be taken jointly with other
rescue co-ordination centres or rescue sub-centres, as appropriate;
.4 the methods of altering vessels at sea
and en route aircraft;
.5 the duties and authority of personnel assigned
to search and rescue operations;
.6 possible redeployment of equipment that
may be necessitated by meteorological or other conditions;
.7 the methods of obtaining essential information
relevant to search and rescue operations, such as appropriate notices to
mariners and reports and forecasts of weather and sea surface conditions;
.8 the methods of obtaining from other rescue
co-ordination centres or rescue sub-centres, as appropriate, such assistance
as may be needed, including vessels, aircraft, personnel and equipment;
.9 the methods of assisting rescue vessels
or other vessels to rendezvous with vessels in distress; and
.10 the methods of assisting distressed aircraft
compelled to ditch to rendezvous with surface craft.
4.3 Preparedness of rescue units
4.3.1 Each designated rescue unit shall maintain
a state of preparedness commensurate with its task and should keep the
appropriate rescue co-ordination centre or rescue sub-centre informed of
its state of preparedness.
5.1 Information concerning emergencies
5.1.1 Parties shall ensure that such continuous
radio watches as are deemed practicable and necessary, are maintained on
international distress frequencies. A coast radio station receiving any
distress call or message shall:
.1 immediately inform the appropriate rescue
co-ordination centre or rescue sub-centre;
.2 rebroadcast to the extent necessary to
inform ships on one or more of the international distress frequencies or
on any other appropriate frequency;
.3 precede such rebroadcasts with the appropriate
automatic alarm signals unless this has already been done; and
.4 take such subsequent action as decided
by the competent authority.
5.1.2 Any authority or element of the search
and rescue organization having reason to believe that a vessel is in a
state of emergency should give as soon as possible all available information
to the rescue co-ordination centre or rescue sub-centre concerned.
5.1.3 Rescue co-ordination centres and rescue
sub-centres shall, immediately upon receipt of information concerning a
vessel in a state of emergency, evaluate such information and determine
the phase of emergency in accordance with paragraph 5.2 and the extent
of operation required.
5.2 Emergency phases
5.2.1 For operations purposes, the following
emergency phases shall be distinguished:
.1 Uncertainty phase:
.1.1 when a vessel has been reported overdue
at its destination; or
.1.2 when a vessel has failed to make an expected
position or safety report.
.2 Alert phase:
.2.1 when, following the uncertainty phase,
attempts to establish contact with the vessel have failed and inquiries
addressed to other appropriate sources have been unsuccessful; or
.2.2 when information has been received indicating
that the operating efficiency of a vessel is impaired but not to the extent
that a distress situation is likely.
.3 Distress phase:
.3.1 when positive information is received
that a vessel or a person is in grave and imminent danger and in need of
immediate assistance; or
.3.2 when, following the alert phase, further
unsuccessful attempts to establish contact with the vessel and more widespread
unsuccessful inquiries point to the probability that the vessel is in distress;
.3.3 when information is received which indicates
that the operating efficiency of a vessel has been impaired to the extent
that a distress situation is likely.
5.3 Procedures for rescue co-ordination centres
and rescue sub-centres during emergency phases
5.3.1 Upon the declaration of the uncertainty
phase, the rescue co-ordination centre or rescue sub-centre, as appropriate,
shall initiate inquiries in order to determine the safety of the vessel
or shall declare the alert phase.
5.3.2 Upon the declaration of the alert phase,
the rescue co-ordination centre or rescue sub-centre, as appropriate, shall
extend the inquiries for the missing vessel, alert appropriate search and
rescue services and initiate such action, as described in paragraph 5.3.3,
as is necessary in the light of the circumstances of the particular case.
5.3.3 Upon the declaration of the distress
phase, the rescue co-ordination centre or rescue sub-centre, as appropriate,
.1 initiate action in accordance with the
arrangements set out in paragraph 4.2;
.2 where appropriate, estimate the degree
of uncertainty of the vessel's position and determine the extent of any
area to be searched;
.3 notify the owner of the vessel or his agent
if possible and keep him informed of developments;
.4 notify other rescue co-ordination centres
or rescue sub-centres, the help of which seems likely to be required or
which may be concerned in the operation;
.5 request at an early stage any help which
might be available from aircraft, vessels or services not specifically
included in the search and rescue organization, considering that, in the
majority of distress situations in ocean areas, other vessels in the vicinity
are important elements for search and rescue operations;
.6 draw up a broad plan for the conduct of
the operations from the information available and communicate such plan
to the authorities designated in accordance with paragraphs 5.7 and 5.8
for their guidance;
.7 amend as necessary in the light of circumstances
the guidance already given in paragraph 18.104.22.168;
.8 notify the consular or diplomatic authorities
concerned or, if the incident involves a refugee or displaced person, the
office of the competent international organization;
.9 notify accident investigation authorities
as appropriate; and
.10 notify any aircraft, vessel or other services
mentioned in paragraph 22.214.171.124 in consultation with the authorities designated
in accordance with paragraph 5.7 or 5.8, as appropriate, when their assistance
is no longer required.
5.3.4 Initiation of search and rescue operations
in respect of a vessel whose position is unknown
126.96.36.199 In the event of an emergency phase
being declared in respect of a vessel whose position is unknown, the following
.1 when a rescue co-ordination centre or rescue
sub-centre is notified of the existence of an emergency phase and is unaware
of other centres taking appropriate action, it shall assume responsibility
for initiating suitable action and confer with neighbouring centres with
the objective of designating one centre to assume responsibility forthwith;
.2 unless otherwise decided by agreement between
the centres concerned, the centre to be designated shall be the centre
responsible for the area in which the vessel was according to its last
reported position; and
.3 after the declaration of the distress phase,
the centre co-ordinating the search and rescue operations shall, if necessary,
inform other appropriate centres of all the circumstances of the state
of emergency and of all subsequent developments.
5.3.5 Passing information to vessels in respect
of which an emergency phase has been declared
188.8.131.52 Whenever applicable, the rescue co-ordination
centre or rescue sub-centre responsible for search and rescue operations
shall be responsible for passing to the vessel for which an emergency phase
has been declared, information on the search and rescue operation it has
5.4 Co-ordination when two or more parties
5.4.1 Where the conduct of operations over
the entire search and rescue region is that responsibility of more than
one Party, each Party shall take appropriate action in accordance with
the operating plans or instructions referred to in paragraph 4.2 when so
requested by the rescue co-ordination centre of the region.
5.5 Termination and suspension of search and
5.5.1 Uncertainty phase and alert phase
184.108.40.206 When during an uncertainty phase or
an alert phase a rescue co-ordination centre or rescue sub-centre, as appropriate,
is informed that the emergency no longer exists, it shall so inform any
authority, unit or service which has been activated or notified.
5.5.2 Distress phase
220.127.116.11 When during a distress phase a rescue
co-ordination centre or rescue sub-centre, as appropriate, is informed
by the vessel in distress or other appropriate sources that the emergency
no longer exists, it shall take the necessary action to terminate the search
and rescue operations and to inform any authority, unit or service which
has been activated or notified.
18.104.22.168 If during a distress phase it has
been determined that the search should be discontinued the rescue co-ordination
centre or rescue sub-centre, as appropriate, shall suspend the search and
rescue operations and so inform any authority, unit or service which has
been activated or notified. Information subsequently received shall be
evaluated and search and rescue operations resumed when justified on the
basis of such information.
22.214.171.124 If during a distress phase it has
been determined that further search would be of no avail, the rescue co-ordination
centre or rescue sub-centre, as appropriate, shall terminate the search
and rescue operations and so inform any authority, unit or service which
has been activated or notified.
5.6 On-scene co-ordination of search and rescue
5.6.1 The activities of units engaged in search
and rescue operations, whether they be rescue units or other assisting
units, shall be co-ordinated to ensure the most effective results.
5.7 Designation of on-scene commander and
5.7.1 When rescue units are about to engage
in search and rescue operations, one of them should be designated on-scene
commander as early as practicable and preferably before arrival within
the specified search area.
5.7.2 The appropriate rescue co-ordination
centre or rescue sub-centre should designate an on-scene commander. If
this is not practicable, the units involved should designate by mutual
agreement an on-scene commander.
5.7.3 Until such time as an on-scene commander
has been designated, the first rescue unit arriving at the scene of action
should automatically assume the duties and responsibilities of an on-scene
5.7.4 An on-scene commander shall be responsible
for the following tasks when these have not been performed by the responsible
rescue co-ordination centre or rescue sub-centre, as appropriate:
.1 determining the probable position of the
object of the search, the probable margin of error in this position, and
the search area;
.2 making arrangements for the separation
for safety purposes of units engaged in the search;
.3 designating appropriate search patterns
for the units participating in the search and assigning search areas to
units or groups of units;
.4 designating appropriate units to effect
rescue when the object of the search is located; and
.5 co-ordinating on-scene search and rescue
5.7.5 An on-scene commander shall also be
responsible for the following:
.1 making periodic reports to the rescue co-ordination
centre or rescue sub-centre which is co-ordinating the search and rescue
.2 reporting the number and the names of survivors
to the rescue co-ordination centre or rescue sub-centre which is co-ordinating
the search and rescue operations, providing the centre with the names and
destinations of units with survivors aboard, reporting which survivors
are in each unit and requesting additional assistance from the centre when
necessary, for example, medical evacuation of seriously injured survivors.
5.8 Designation of co-ordinator surface search
and his responsibilities
5.8.1 If rescue units (including warships)
are not available to assume the duties of an on-scene commander but a number
of merchant vessels or other vessels are participating in the search and
rescue operations, one of them should be designated by mutual agreement
as co-ordinator surface search.
5.8.2 The co-ordinator surface search should
be designated as early as practicable and preferably before arrival within
the specified search area.
5.8.3 The co-ordinator surface search should
be responsible for as many of the tasks listed in paragraphs 5.7.4 and
5.7.5 as the vessel is capable of performing.
5.9 Initial action
5.9.1 Any unit receiving information of a
distress incident shall take whatever immediate action to assist as is
within its capability or shall alert other units which might be able to
assist and shall notify the rescue co-ordination centre or rescue sub-centre
in whose area the incident has occurred.
5.10 Search areas
5.10.1 Search areas determined in accordance
with paragraph 126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52 or 5.8.3 may be altered as appropriate
by the on-scene commander or the co-ordinator surface search, who should
notify the rescue co-ordination centre or rescue sub-centre of his action
and his reasons for doing so.
5.11 Search patterns
5.11.1 Search patterns designated in accordance
with paragraph 184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11 or 5.8.3 may be changed to other patterns
if considered necessary by the on-scene commander or the co-ordinator surface
search, who should notify the rescue co-ordination centre or rescue sub-centre
of his action and his reasons for doing so.
5.12 Search successful
5.12.1 When the search has been successful
the on-scene commander or the co-ordinator surface search should direct
the most suitably equipped units to conduct the rescue or to provide other
5.12.2 Where appropriate the units conducting
the rescue should notify the on-scene commander or the co-ordinator surface
search of the number and names of survivors aboard, whether all personnel
have been accounted for and whether additional assistance is required,
for example, medical evacuations, and the destination of the units.
5.12.3 The on-scene commander or the co-ordinator
surface search should immediately notify the rescue co-ordination centre
or rescue sub-centre when the search has been successful.
5.13 Search unsuccessful
5.13.1 The search should only be terminated
when there is no longer any reasonable hope of rescuing survivors.
5.13.2 The rescue co-ordination centre or
rescue sub-centre co-ordinating the search and rescue operations should
normally be responsible for terminating the search.
5.13.3 In remote ocean areas not under the
responsibility of a rescue co-ordination centre or where the responsible
centre is not in a position to co-ordinate the search and rescue operations,
the on-scene commander or the co-ordinator surface search may take responsibility
for terminating the search.
SHIP REPORTING SYSTEMS
6.1.1 Parties should establish a ship reporting
system for application within any search and rescue region for which they
are responsible, where this is considered necessary to facilitate search
and rescue operations and is deemed practicable.
6.1.2 Parties contemplating the institution
of a ship reporting system should take account of the relevant recommendations
of the Organization.
6.1.3 The ship reporting system should provide
up-to-date information on the movements of vessels in order, in the event
of a distress incident:
.1 to reduce the interval between the loss
of contact with a vessel and the initiation of search and rescue operations
in cases where no distress signal has been received;
.2 to permit rapid determination of vessels
which may be called upon to provide assistance;
.3 to permit delineation of a search area
of limited size in case the position of a vessel in distress is unknown
or uncertain; and
.4 to facilitate the provision of urgent medical
assistance or advice to vessels not carrying a doctor.
6.2 Operational requirements
6.2.1 To achieve the objectives set out in
paragraph 6.1.3, the ship reporting system should satisfy the following
.1 provision of information, including sailing
plans and position reports, which would make it possible to predict the
future positions of participating vessels;
.2 maintenance of a shipping plot;
.3 receipt of reports at appropriate intervals
from participating vessels;
.4 simplicity in system design and operation;
.5 use of an internationally agreed standard
ship reporting format and internationally agreed standard procedures.
6.3 Types of reports
6.3.1 A ship reporting system should incorporate
the following reports:
.1 Sailing plan - giving name, call sign or
ship station identity, date and time (in GMT) of departure, details of
the vessel's point of departure, next port of call, intended route, speed
and expected date and time (in GMT) of arrival. Significant changes should
be reported as soon as possible.
.2 Position report - giving name, call sign
or ship station identity, date and time (in GMT), position, course and
.3 Final report - giving name, call sign or
ship station identity, date and time (in GMT) of arrival at destination
or of leaving the area covered by the system.
6.4 Use of systems
6.4.1 Parties should encourage all vessels
to report their positions when travelling in areas where arrangements have
been made to collect information on positions for search and rescue purposes.
6.4.2 Parties recording information on the
position of vessels should disseminate, so far as practicable, such information
to other States when so requested for search and rescue purposes.