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September 20, 2018
12:06

Aquarius informs Libyan JRCC, ITMRCC, RCC Malta that it cannot proceed to transfer

SAR Operations > Maltese Patrol Boat (2018.09.20-30)

Aquarius informs Libyan JRCC, ITMRCC and RCC Malta by email that it cannot proceed to transfer due to Libyan…

Aquarius informs Libyan JRCC, ITMRCC and RCC Malta by email that it cannot proceed to transfer due to Libyan ports not conforming to the definition of places of safety.

“Dear Sir,

Please be informed that following the assessment of the situation, and because of the necessity to provide immediate assistance without delay to the people in distress, I have performed the rescue of the SAR Case. I am currently patrolling with [11] survivors on board, under medical care. Most of the survivors are physically or mentally deeply traumatized.

Libyan Coast Guard requested us to transfer the survivors to their vessel to bring them to a Libyan port. I have all the reason to believe that none of the Libyan ports are a place of safety for the survivors. I also have all reason to believe that a transfer operation would jeopardize the safety of the rescued people and my crew because of a risk of panic.

Therefore, as per the SAR Convention we cannot and should not transfer rescued people to Libyan Coast Guard and I request you to help to provide us a place of safety for disembarking the survivors of the SAR Case within a reasonable time.

My ship has the capacity to provide adequate medical and humanitarian care to the survivors.

I consider this situation as a security threat for my crew, my ship and the survivors. I have tried to contact JRCC by phone but have had no reply.”

(more…)

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08:53

Email sent to Libyan JRCC, ITMRCC, Maltese RCC and MRCC Tunisia informing about rescue operation

SAR Operations > Maltese Patrol Boat (2018.09.20-30)

Aquarius sends email to Libyan JRCC, ITMRCC, Maltese RCC and MRCC Tunisia informing about rescue operation “While patrolling M/V…

Aquarius sends email to Libyan JRCC, ITMRCC, Maltese RCC and MRCC Tunisia informing about rescue operation

“While patrolling M/V Aquarius2 investigated a boat in position 33-28.6N 011-58.1Eat  0600Z. I am reporting to you that the situation is assessed as highly dangerous for the people on board.

  • It is a small white boat fiber glass boat with approximately 10 people on board.

I have every reason to believe that the Distress phase exists, because the target is an unseaworthy boat, without any life-saving appliance such as lifejacket or liferaft. According to the sailing conditions and the weather conditions, I have every reason to believe that the people in distress are already weak, sick and potentially injured.

I am currently deploying the fast rescue crafts.

As per the UNCLOS, SOLAS and SAR Conventions, I therefore inform you that M/V Aquarius 2 will provide immediate assistance to these people in distress and rescue them without delay. My ship has the capacity to recover all of the people, to provide medical care and to transfer them to a place of safety in a reasonable period of time.

I will keep you informed as soon as I have more information.”

(more…)

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08:35

Aquarius contacts Libyan JRCC by satellite phone but receives no response

SAR Operations > Maltese Patrol Boat (2018.09.20-30)

According to the SAR Convention (1979), all information concerning a vessel in distress will be forwarded to the rescue…

According to the SAR Convention (1979), all information concerning a vessel in distress will be forwarded to the rescue co-ordination center concerned.

Chapter 4: Operating procedures

4.2.3 Any authority or element of the search and rescue service having reason to believe that a person, a vessel or other craft is in a state of emergency shall forward as soon as possible all available information to the rescue co-ordination centre or rescue sub-centre concerned.

According to the SOLAS Convention search and rescue units should proceed immediately to the distress event and inform the relevant rescue co-ordination centre.

Chapter V

Regulation 33: “Any search and rescue unit receiving information of a distress incident shall initially take immediate
action if in the position to assist and shall, in any case without delay, notify the rescue co-ordination centre or rescue
subcentre in whose area the incident has occurred”.

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August 19, 2018
18:40

Aquarius informs the Tunisian Navy that UNHCR has conducted individual interviews with the 5 survivors in order to provide guidance to Aquarius

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

Email from Aquarius to Tunisian Navy, copying French MRCC “Dear Sir, Please be informed that UNHCR has conducted the…

Email from Aquarius to Tunisian Navy, copying French MRCC

“Dear Sir,

Please be informed that UNHCR has conducted the interviews with the survivors on board. UNHCRs senior legal adviser will be sending his findings to his head of unit tomorrow at 09h00 Geneva time. The situation on board remains stable and we will remain near our standby area within the Tunisian SRR. We will continue to update this RCC with any developments.  

Best Regards”

(more…)

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August 18, 2018
23:14

Aquarius contacts UNHCR awaiting their guidance

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

Email from Aquarius to UNHCR, copying Tunisian Navy “Dear Sirs, I understand that you intend to carry out some…

Email from Aquarius to UNHCR, copying Tunisian Navy

“Dear Sirs,

I understand that you intend to carry out some remote interviews with the survivors on board the Aquarius and offer some guidance to the ship as regards their special circumstances. I fully appreciate your support and I am ready to facilitate the interviews from tomorrow morning upon request. Please can you detail the process so we can explain it to the rescued people?

Please acknowledge

Best Regards”

(more…)

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15:45

Aquarius informs Tunisian Navy that UNHCR will send representatives since Aquarius remains concerned that returning the survivors to their home country would be a breach of international refugee law

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

Email from Aquarius to Tunisian Navy, copying French MRCC “Dear Sir,The United Nation High Commission for Refugees has confirmed…

Email from Aquarius to Tunisian Navy, copying French MRCC

“Dear Sir,
The United Nation High Commission for Refugees has confirmed that they are sending representatives to conduct interviews with the survivors on board the Aquarius. We have not heard when this will happen. We believe that they are in contact with Tunisian authorities. We are still concerned that returning these survivors to their home country would be a breach of international refugee law, and we believe that the guidance of UNHCR is important to find the appropriate outcome.
Thank you for coordinating this event and I hope we can find a quick and suitable solution.
Best Regards”

(more…)

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14:23

Aquarius asks the Tunisian Navy to standby as it is seeking guidance from UNHCR and explaining the situation to the 5 people onboard

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

Email from Aquarius to Tunisian Navy, copying French MRCC “Dear Sirs, I acknowledge receipt of your email of 13:34,…

Email from Aquarius to Tunisian Navy, copying French MRCC

“Dear Sirs,

I acknowledge receipt of your email of 13:34, 12:31 and 11:35. My current position is 37 46.8N 010 43.3E and I keep standing-by in this position. The vessel P610 is close to my position and I am in VHF contact with it. Please be advised that all 5 survivors have stated a real fear of being returned to Tunisia and have declared their intention to seek asylum. We are concerned that returning these people to Tunisia could be in breach of international refugee law. We are currently seeking guidance with UNHCR regarding this matter who have already informed us they are willing to support the situation and are we awaiting their further instructions.

For your information, the government in charge of the designation of a place of safety where the survivors will disembark from the assisting ship (M/V Aquarius) should take in consideration “The need to avoid disembarkation in territories where the lives and freedoms of those alleging a well-founded fear of persecution would be threatened is a consideration in the case of asylum-seekers and refugees recovered at sea.” (IMO Resolution MSC.167(78) Art. 6.17).

We will need some time to be able to clarify these point and to be able to explain to the 5 people on board the situation. Aquarius is configured for Search and Rescue and we are not in any way capable or willing to forcefully put someone on another vessel against their will. Please allow us the time to come to an understanding with all parties before proceeding.

In this regards, I kindly ask you to keep the vessel P610 in standby, the time needed for this clarification.

As per your request, we’ll keep this RCC informed. Thank you for your cooperation.
Best Regards”

(more…)

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August 12, 2018
17:08

Maltese RCC informs Aquarius that all actions undertaken inside the Maltese SRR are coordinated by Maltese RCC

SAR Operations > Valletta (2018.08.09-15)

Maltese RCC informs Aquarius via email that “any instructions to intervene given by the Libyan coastguard are only valid…

Maltese RCC informs Aquarius via email that “any instructions to intervene given by the Libyan coastguard are only valid for the Libyan area of responsibility.”

Any intervention or action taken within MT SRR should be coordinated by and specifically approved by RCC Malta.”

MTJRCC informs Aquarius that the AFMis conducting a search inside its area and despatched its own units.” Requiring Aquarius “to keep a clear and safe distance off the boat in case of sighting, observe without interception, and report to this RCC on the situation”.

Legal reference

Parties having accepted responsibility to provide search and rescue services for a specified area shall use search and rescue units and other available facilities for providing assistance to a person who is, or appears to be, in distress at sea. [click here for legal reference]

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17:07

Aquarius asks LNCG and Maltese RCC for clarification about the coordination of SAR case 661

SAR Operations > Valletta (2018.08.09-15)

Aquarius sends an email to the LNCG and Maltese JRCC for clarification about the coordination of SAR case 661….

Aquarius sends an email to the LNCG and Maltese JRCC for clarification about the coordination of SAR case 661.

Email from Aquarius to LNCG and Maltese JRCC, copying Italian MRCC and EUNAVFOR Med

“Dear Sirs,

Please can you confirm who is the coordinating authority for SAR case 661? We are currently passing 34-20N. My
RHIB is in the water and investigating a target to our north following the instructions of JRCC Libya. As directed by
JRCC Libya we have contacted another MRCC to arrange a place of safety to disembark all 141 people currently on
board the Aquarius as we cannot disembark them in Libya.

Please acknowledge receipt of this email.

Best Regards”

Legal reference

“in a case where the RCC responsible for the area where the survivors are recovered cannot be contacted, [the Master should] attempt to contact another RCC, or if that is impractical, any other Government authority that may be able to assist, while recognizing that responsibility still rests with the RCC of the area in which the survivors are recovered;

[the Master should] keep the RCC informed about conditions, assistance needed, and actions taken or planned for the survivors (see paragraph 6.10 regarding other information the RCC may wish to obtain);” [Click here for the legal reference]

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16:21

Aquarius informs Libyan JRCC that another fishing vessel has seen the boat heading North an hour ago

SAR Operations > Valletta (2018.08.09-15)

Email from Aquarius to Libyan JRCC, with MTJRCC, ITMRCC and EUNAVFOR MED in copy: “Dear Sirs,My RHIB just investigated…

Email from Aquarius to Libyan JRCC, with MTJRCC, ITMRCC and EUNAVFOR MED in copy:

“Dear Sirs,
My RHIB just investigated another fishing vessel at 13h40UTC who said they had seen the boat in distress heading to the North 1 hour ago. My current pos. is 34-12.1N 012-07.6E.”

Legal reference

[the Master should] keep the RCC informed about conditions, assistance needed, and actions taken or planned for the survivors (see paragraph 6.10 regarding other information the RCC may wish to obtain); [click here for the legal reference]
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15:48

Aquarius informs Libyan JRCC it is continuing the search and that two fishermen vessels said they have seen the boat heading North

SAR Operations > Valletta (2018.08.09-15)

Email from Aquarius to Libyan JRCC, with MTJRCCITMRCC and EUNAVFOR MED in copy: “Dear Sir,Good copy sir. Aquarius will continue…

Email from Aquarius to Libyan JRCC, with MTJRCC, ITMRCC and EUNAVFOR MED in copy:

“Dear Sir,
Good copy sir. Aquarius will continue to search. Our current pos. is 34-06.3N 012-04.2E searching to the north for the time being. If no joy we will start another search pattern. One of my RHIBs has investigated several fishing vessels in the area. On two occasions the fishermen said that they had seen the boat heading North.”

Legal reference

[the Master should] keep the RCC informed about conditions, assistance needed, and actions taken or planned for the survivors (see paragraph 6.10 regarding other information the RCC may wish to obtain); [click here for the legal reference]
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10:15

The 141 survivors on board receive food for the day

SAR Operations > Valletta (2018.08.09-15)

Legal Reference [The shipmaster should] “do everything possible, within the capabilities and limitations of the ship, to treat the survivors humanely…

Legal Reference

[The shipmaster should] “do everything possible, within the capabilities and limitations of the ship, to treat the survivors humanely and to meet their immediate needs;” [Click here for legal reference]
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August 11, 2018
21:45

Maltese RCC informs Aquarius that it will not coordinate a place a safety

SAR Operations > Valletta (2018.08.09-15)

Maltese RCC replies to Aquarius’ email by stating that it is not the appropriate and competent authority to designate…

Maltese RCC replies to Aquarius’ email by stating that it is not the appropriate and competent authority to designate or make the necessary arrangements for a place of safety.

Legal references:

According to Chapter 3 of the SAR Convention (click here),

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.

3.1.6. Each party should authorize its RCC: 4. To make the necessary arrangements in cooperation with other RCC to identify the most appropriate place(s) for disembarking persons found in distress.

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21:24

Aquarius requests the assistance of Italian MRCC and Maltese RCC in finding a place of safety

SAR Operations > Valletta (2018.08.09-15)

Following the instruction of the Libyan JRCC to “contact another MRCC and ask for place of safety“, Aquarius requests…

Following the instruction of the Libyan JRCC to “contact another MRCC and ask for place of safety“, Aquarius requests the assistance of the Italian MRCC and Maltese RCC in finding a place of safety where all survivors can be disembarked as soon as possible.

Email from Aquarius to Italian MRCC and Maltese RCC

“Dear Sirs,

Please be informed that Aquarius carried out 2 rescues under the coordination of JRCC Libya within the Libyan SRR. JRCC Libya has ordered Aquarius to contact another MRCC to coordinate the disembarkation of all rescued people in a place of safety. Aquarius is requesting your assistance in finding a place of safety where all survivors can be disembarked as soon possible. Please find attached a copy of all communication between RCC Libya and M/V Aquarius plus the data regarding the survivors. Aquarius will alter course to the North tomorrow in order to approach an eventual port for disembarkation when it is designated by a competent maritime authority.

Please acknowledge receipt of this email.

Best Regards”

Legal references:

According to Chapter 3 of the SAR Convention (click here),

3.1.1 Parties shall co-ordinate their search and rescue organizations and should, whenever necessary, coordinate search and rescue operations with those of neighboring States.

3.1.6. Each party should authorize its RCC: 4. To make the necessary arrangements in cooperation with other RCC to identify the most appropriate place(s) for disembarking persons found in distress.

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15:16

Aquarius calls a second Libyan JRCC number, no reply

SAR Operations > Valletta (2018.08.09-15)

Aquarius calls another of the LYJRCC numbers provided on GISIS, no reply. Legal reference A fully capable RCC must…

Aquarius calls another of the LYJRCC numbers provided on GISIS, no reply.

Legal reference

A fully capable RCC must require the following capabilities: 

  • 24-hour availibility
  • Trained persons
  • Persons with a working knowledge of the English language
  • Charts which apply to the SRR (aeronautical, nautical, topographic and hydrographic)
  • Means of plotting
  • Ability to receive distress alerts, e.g from MCCs, CESs, etc.
  • Immediate communications with:
    • associated ATS units
    • associated RSCs
    • DF and position-fixing stations
    • associated CRSs
  • Rapid and reliable communications with:
    • parent agencies of SRUs
    • adjacent RCCs
    • designated meteorological offices
    • employed SRUs
    • alerting posts
  • Plans of operation
[Click here for the legal reference]
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August 10, 2018
21:53

Aquarius reports to Libyan JRCC about the situation onboard and asks for further guidance regarding the designation of a place of safety

SAR Operations > Valletta (2018.08.09-15)

Aquarius reports to the Libyan JRCC about the situation onboard and asks for further guidance regarding the designation of…

Aquarius reports to the Libyan JRCC about the situation onboard and asks for further guidance regarding the designation of a place of safety.

It’s part of the duties of the Master to request guidance to the RCC in charge of the SRR where the rescue operation occurs : “[the ship Master should] comply with any relevant requirements of the Government responsible for the SAR region where the survivors were recovered, or of another responding coastal State, and seek additional guidance from those authorities where difficulties arise in complying with such requirements.” [Read more]

The responsibility to provide a place of safety, or to ensure that a place of safety is provided, falls on the Government responsible for the SAR region in which the survivors were recovered.”  [Read more]

(more…)

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18:43

Aquarius provides list of rescued people onboard to the Libyan JRCC

SAR Operations > Valletta (2018.08.09-15)

As requested, Aquarius provides to the Libyan JRCC the list of rescued people on board the vessel. The breakdown…

As requested, Aquarius provides to the Libyan JRCC the list of rescued people on board the vessel. The breakdown details the gender, age, nationality and vulnerabilities of the survivors.

Legal references:

According to the “RESOLUTION MSC.167(78) (Adopted on 20 May 2004): Guideline on the treatment of persons rescued at sea”, Article 5.5, shipmasters should “keep the RCC informed about conditions, assistance needed, and actions taken or planned for the survivors.”

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18:01

LYJRCC requests Aquarius to provide number of rescued people and to wait for instructions from Libyan JRCC

SAR Operations > Valletta (2018.08.09-15)

In an email, the LYJRCC requests Aquarius to provide the number of rescued people onboard and the number of…

In an email, the LYJRCC requests Aquarius to provide the number of rescued people onboard and the number of women, men and children. It also instructs to wait for instructions from Libyan JRCC.

Legal references:

According to the “RESOLUTION MSC.167(78) (Adopted on 20 May 2004): Guideline on the treatment of persons rescued at sea”, article 6.10:

“The RCC should seek to obtain the following information from the master of the assisting ship:
1. information about the survivors, including name, age, gender, apparent health and medical condition and any special medical needs;
2. the master’s judgment about the continuing safety of the assisting ship;
3. actions completed or intended to be taken by the master;
4. assisting ship’s current endurance with the additional persons on board;
5. assisting ship’s next intended port of call; .6 the master’s preferred arrangements for disembarking the survivors;
7.  any help that the assisting ship may need during or after the recovery operation; and
8. any special factors (e.g., prevailing weather, time sensitive cargo).”

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11:15

SAR Case 656: Aquarius calls the Libyan Coast guards by VHF, no reply

SAR Operations > Valletta (2018.08.09-15)

Aquarius calls the Libyan Coast Guards by VHF on distress channel 16, no reply. It’s part of the duties…

Aquarius calls the Libyan Coast Guards by VHF on distress channel 16, no reply.

It’s part of the duties of the Master to inform the RCC responsible for the SRR about the evolution of the situation : “keep the RCC informed about conditions, assistance needed, and actions taken or planned for the survivors (see paragraph 6.10 regarding other information the RCC may wish to obtain);” [Read more]

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11:10

SAR Case 656: Aquarius informs MRCC about the rescue operation in progress and the non-reply from the Libyan JRCC

SAR Operations > Valletta (2018.08.09-15)

Aquarius calls Italian MRCC to inform about the visual of the wooden boat and that Libyan authorities do not…

Aquarius calls Italian MRCC to inform about the visual of the wooden boat and that Libyan authorities do not answer. Italian MRCC informs that Libyan authorities are coordinating.

in a case where the RCC responsible for the area where the survivors are recovered cannot be contacted, attempt to contact another RCC, or if that is impractical, any other Government authority that may be able to assist, while recognizing that responsibility still rests with the RCC of the area in which the survivors are recovered”; [Read more]

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11:09

SAR Case 656: Aquarius starts rescue operation

SAR Operations > Valletta (2018.08.09-15)

The RHIB of Aquarius started to evacuate the boat in distress and transfer the survivors into the Aquarius for…

The RHIB of Aquarius started to evacuate the boat in distress and transfer the survivors into the Aquarius for medical assistance and registration.

Legal reference

It’s on the duty of the Master “to render assistance to any person found at sea in danger of being lost” and “to proceed with all possible speed to the rescue of persons in distress” according to the maritime convention [Click for legal reference]

 

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11:04

SAR Case 656: Rescue boats in the water to provide assistance to the boat in distress

SAR Operations > Valletta (2018.08.09-15)

2 rescue RHIB launched at sea to provide assistance with rescuers and medical team onboard. All team ready on…

2 rescue RHIB launched at sea to provide assistance with rescuers and medical team onboard. All team ready on deck to take in charge the survivors. Massive floating devices ready on deck in case of emergency.

It’s on the duty of the Master “to render assistance to any person found at sea in danger of being lost” and “to proceed with all possible speed to the rescue of persons in distress” according to the maritime convention [Click for legal reference]

 

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10:44

SAR Case 656: Aquarius reports to Libyan JRCC about people in distress requiring immediate assistance

SAR Operations > Valletta (2018.08.09-15)

Aquarius sends email to Libyan JRCC, copying Italian MRCC, Maltese MRCC, Tunisian RCC, EUNAVFOR med, informing about a “distress

Aquarius sends email to Libyan JRCC, copying Italian MRCC, Maltese MRCC, Tunisian RCC, EUNAVFOR med, informing about a “distress case requiring immediate assistance”.

It’s part of the duties of the Master to inform the RCC responsible for the SRR about the evolution of the situation : “keep the RCC informed about conditions, assistance needed, and actions taken or planned for the survivors (see paragraph 6.10 regarding other information the RCC may wish to obtain);” [Read more]

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August 9, 2018
23:57

Aquarius starts an expanding square search pattern

SAR Operations > Valletta (2018.08.09-15)

Aquarius starts an expanding square search pattern. Legal references “Any search and rescue unit receiving information of a distress incident shall initially…

Aquarius starts an expanding square search pattern.

Legal references

“Any search and rescue unit receiving information of a distress incident shall initially take immediate action if in the position to assist and shall, in any case without delay, notify the rescue co-ordination centre or rescue subcentre in whose area the incident has occurred.[Click for legal reference]

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August 4, 2018
20:13

Aquarius enters the Libyan Search and Rescue Region

Normal navigation

Aquarius enters the Libyan Search and Rescue Region (SRR), in international waters. From now on, according to the global…

Aquarius enters the Libyan Search and Rescue Region (SRR), in international waters.

From now on, according to the global SAR plan and the SAR Convention, any SAR case is under the responsibility of the Libyan Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC).

On 27th June 2018, coordinates of the Libyan JRCC were uploaded on the GISIS, thereby legitimizing the coordination of rescues by this JRCC in the Libyan SRR.

The responsibilities of a Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) are:

 

According to Maritime conventions and resolutions,

  • Upon the declaration of a distress phase, a RCC shall initiate “search and rescue operations when the position of the search object is unknown” (SAR Convention, art. 4.5.4).
  • As soon as the RCC responsible for a SRR in which assistance is needed is informed about a distress situation, it “should immediately accept responsibility for coordinating the rescue efforts” (MSC.167(78), art 6.7).
  • RCCs “should be prepared to act quickly on their own, or have processes in place, as necessary, to involve other authorities, so that timely decisions can be reached with regard to handling of survivors” (MSC.167(78), art 6.4).
  • A RCC “should make every effort to minimize the time survivors remain on board the assisting ship” (MSC.167(78), art 6.8).
  • A RCC “shall have available up-to-date information especially concerning search and rescue facilities and available communications relevant to search and rescue operations in its area” (SAR Convention, art 4.2.1).
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