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United ports of refuge call as Maritime Masie remains adrift

United ports of refuge call as Maritime Masie remains adrift
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the International Union of Maritime Insurance (IUMI) and the International Salvage Union (ISU) have united in condemnation of the continuing refusal to provide refuge for fire-damaged, structurally-weakened Maritime Maisie.

Referring to IMO Resolution A.949(23), ICS secretary general Peter Hinchliffe said: “Guidance on the handling of requests for places of refuge was agreed at IMO but often when a case arises the coastal states concerned take a 'not in my backyard' attitude. This is in marked contrast to attitudes to aircraft in need of assistance.  This current case shows that recent lessons have simply not been learned.”

The 44,000 dwt chemical tanker, whose structure was severely weakened after she suffered a 19-day chemical fire between South Korea and Japan, has been seeking refuge since December, and is currently being held at sea by six tugs.

“Our members are right on the front line of this issue,” said ISU president Leendert Muller. “Too often they are unable to follow the best course of action which is to take the casualty into shelter, which does not necessarily have to be a port.

“We have seen infamous cases like Castor and Prestige and more recently the MSC Flaminia and Stolt Valor and now the Maritime Maisie where our members, attending damaged vessels, experienced great difficulty in finding an authority willing to accept the casualty.”

Meanwhile IUMI president Ole Wikborg said: “The potential impact of environmental damage has to be reduced as much as possible and the safety of crews is paramount and we have to minimize material damage to ships and equipment. Coastal states must be able to make the best possible decision to prevent further damage following a maritime accident. Some countries have a system that seems to be functioning. IUMI is of the strong opinion that the prevailing regulations as set out, for example, by IMO and the EU are sufficient but that the necessary steps have to be taken to make the rules work.”

ISU, ICS and IUMI first announced their intention to form a lobby on places of refuge  in early December.