SOLAS amendments for recovery of persons from the water


Published: 7 July 2014

The Association has had reference to IMO publications as well as to material published by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) in the preparation of this update. Materials are republished with the kind permission of the ICS.

The Regulation (III/17-1)

With effect from 1 July 2014, all ships subject to SOLAS will be required to:

  1. develop plans and procedures,
  2. which identify equipment on board that is to be used for such a recovery process
  3. as well as deal with the minimisation of the risk to ship crew involved in such a process

For reference, further information can be found in guidelines for the developing of such plans and procedures in MSC.1/Circ. 1447. The IMO has also issued a "Pocket Guide to Recovery Techniques" (IMO I947E) which members may find of further assistance.

Members will also find further advice in the Guide to Recovery of Persons issued by the International Chamber of Shipping, republished here with the kind permission of the ICS.

Obligation to assist distressed persons at sea

Vessels have a duty under SOLAS 1974 to render assistance to another vessel in distress if in close proximity or assistance has been requested by a government agency.

Specifically under Regulation 33:

"The Master of a ship at seas which is in a position to be able to provide assistance, on receiving information from any source that persons are in distress at sea, is bound to proceed with all speed to their assistance ..."

"This obligation to provide assistance applies regardless of the nationality or status of such persons or the circumstances in which they are found."

If members experience a situation where persons need to be recovered out of the water, they are asked to contact the Association soonest so that we can provide further assistance as may be necessary to support the vessel and her crew.