From: All About Shipping
In response to the continuing crisis in the Mediterranean, necessitating commercial ships to rescue tens of thousands of migrants and refugees during 2014, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has published new Guidance on Large Scale Rescue Operations at Sea, which can be downloaded free of charge via the ICS website. (See www.ics-shipping.org/docs/
ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe explained: “The shipping industry fully accepts its humanitarian obligation to assist anyone at sea whose vessel is in distress. But the scale of the crisis involving thousands of people attempting to get to Europe in craft that are neither fit for purpose nor seaworthy has raised real concerns about the safety and health of ships’ crews that may be involved in rescuing as many as 200 people at a time.
The challenges involved in rescuing large numbers of people and then accommodating them on board ship prior to disembarkation are enormous compared to conventional rescue operations. The ICS Guidelines are therefore intended to help shipping companies prepare for this eventuality, whilst taking full of account of the safety and security of the ship should such large scale rescues be necessary. ICS says that experience has shown that advance preparations, and the development of effective procedures supported by regular drills, will prepare Masters and their crews to manage large scale rescue operations safely and successfully.