Rescuing Refugees at Sea

Over 5,000 refugees have been rescued from the seas in the last four months of 2014 – almost exclusively in the southern Mediterranean.

This news occasionally makes the international press, but as usual lives in peril at sea are of less interest than oil soaked puffins.

Rescues have place considerable financial pressure on coast state authorities in southern Europe, some of whom who have helpfully withdrawn patrols and support, leaving seafarers – who have obligations under SOLAS, to render assistance.

Modern communications mean persons in distress can usually be located fairly promptly, but prompt post-rescue disembarkation may be delayed if the Captain is not prepared.

Watkins Superyachts who manage several significant superyachts have circulated a document to the Captains of the yachts they manage which should be of help in this matter.

Published by the IMO – in partnership with UNHCR the guide for those at sea who may be called upon to assist refugees or migrants can be downloaded here.Transfer4_lr

Captain Adrian McCout of Watkins Superyachts reminds yacht Captains of their obligations “To render assistance under the 1974 SOLAS Convention, their overriding authority in this matter and to make contact with the Company at the earliest opportunity, but not to delay in assisting by doing so.”

“It is interesting,” he adds that the very same SOLAS convention requires coast states to make similar provisions.”