Places of Refuge
When a ship has suffered an incident, the best way of preventing damage or pollution from progressive deterioration would be to lighten its cargo and bunkers and to repair the damage. Such an operation is best carried out in a place of refuge. However, to bring such a ship into a place of refuge near a coast may endanger the coastal State, both economically and from the environmental point of view, and local authorities and populations may strongly object to the operation. While coastal States may be reluctant to accept damaged or disabled ships into their area of responsibility due primarily to the potential for environmental damage, in fact it is rarely possible to deal satisfactorily and effectively with a marine casualty in open sea conditions.
Therefore, granting access to a place of refuge could involve a political decision which can only be taken on a case-by-case basis with due consideration given to the balance between the advantage for the affected ship and the environment resulting from bringing the ship into a place of refuge and the risk to the environment resulting from that ship being near the coast. To assist coastal states in the matter, IMO has developed guidelines on Places of Refuge for Ship in Need of Assistance. The purpose of these guidelines is to provide a common framework for all involved to assess the situation of ships in need of assistance. INTERTANKO played a major role in the development of these guidelines and will assist Members in obtaining the appropriate place of refuge if their tanker is the need of assistance.
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