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International Salvage Union hails EU progress on places of refuge rules

THE International Salvage Union (ISU) has welcomed a European Union support for the implementation of new Operational Guidelines on Places of Refuge.

International Salvage Union hails EU progress on places of refuge rules
01 February 2016 - 20:53

International Salvage Union hails EU progress on places of refuge rules

THE International Salvage Union (ISU) has welcomed a European Union support for the implementation of new Operational Guidelines on Places of Refuge.

ISU said that it had been campaigning on this issue for many years and had joined forces with the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS); the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) and the International Group of P&I Clubs (IG) to press for improvement worldwide.

The drive came after the case of a fire-damaged containership in the eastern Atlantic. It was weeks before she was admitted to a European port, reports London's Tanker Operator.

The 6,750-TEU MSC Flaminia returned to service, two years after it was ravaged by fire then rocked by an explosion that killed two crewmen. 

The ship found itself at an impasse as European ports refused it shelter while the cargo still smoldered. 

Eventually, the German-owned ship was taken in at the new port at Wilhelmshaven. Following repairs at Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering's shipyard in Mangalia, Romania, the ship docked at La Spezia, 90 kilometres down the coast from Genoa, and was to return to MSC service.

Former ISU president Leendert Muller said that salvage is a vital part of the shipping industry and that typically conducts 250 operations a year to save lives, to protect the environment and to save property.

"Salvors often stand between a damaged or immobilised vessel and an environmental catastrophe," said Mr Muller. 

"Every year our members save ships from peril that, together, are carrying more than a million tonnes of potential pollutants. It is more than 20 times the amount spilled by the 'Exxon Valdez."

ISU acknowledges that it was a very difficult decision to bring a damaged vessel closer to shore or to port and that the risk of pollution could not be eradicated. But a damaged vessel often needed to be brought to a place of refuge where her condition can be stabilised.

Mr Muller said the EU Operational Guidelines will "go a long way to improving the situation in the important and busy waters of the member states of the European Union".

In particular, he said, "salvors welcome the statement that 'unless unsafe there should be no rejection of a casualty vessel without inspection."

It is encouraging that the EU took a global leadership position on this issue, reported London's Tanker Operator. Salvors frequently experience difficulty finding places of refuge it hopes the influence of the EU will bring progress internationally.

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