Following an incident where a fire broke out on board a German-flagged vessel, which was left adrift on the high seas for weeks until Germany agreed to allow the stricken ship to enter its territorial waters, European ship owners have adopted the EU operational guidelines on places of refuge for ships in distress at sea.
The guidelines are a product of the cooperation group on places of refuge, bringing together member states, the European commission and industry.
The guidelines also aim to provide practical guidance and enhance cooperation.
The incident evidenced the need to enhance cooperation between member states when confronted with a ship in need of assistance.
The guidelines do not replace any legal obligations laid down in applicable legislation and they do not supersede, but rather complement, the guidelines developed at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
Christophe Tytgat, Senior Director of ECSA Legal Affairs, said: ‘We fully support the work done so far and commend the Correspondence group for this very useful document, which aims at improving cooperation between all actors when ships find themselves in need of quick access to a coastal state’s territorial waters to take refuge.”