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Old 28-01-2008, 05:01   #1
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Duty to Rescue

After reading some of the thread about unnecessary government intervention into our sailing passtime this thought arose.

Is there a duty to rescue stranded sailors?

We are a group heavy with tradition and for years professional sailors went to great length to preserve the lives of other professional sailors, even the enemy in wartime. Many government and nongovernmental organizations have been formed to make this task of rescuing sailors more effective.

Over the past fifty years technology and wealth ave intersected in a number of countries what have allowed any number of people, prepared or unprepared to go to sea. Do we still have a duty to rescue stranded sailors? What does that mean to the regulation of marine activities?
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Old 28-01-2008, 05:53   #2
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Is there a duty to rescue stranded sailors?
A long history actually. It follows in both commerce and times of war too. As far back as there were sailors. It is expected that stranded sailors are somehow important and to be saved setting aside differences. This far more than a recreational sailor tradition. Were that tradition to go away then it easily would follow that the concept of helping anyone any place should go away too. The issue is not if someone should save you if you were in trouble. It is the expectation that they would try. Everyone wants to say they would lend a hand if they could.

A foreign government does not need to save you for you own good. People die all the time in most of the places where there is great danger. What they can not have is the outrage from the rest of the world that they could have tried and did not. Individual people are heroes if they try to save a life. Governments (politicians) that don't try are looked down upon by the rest of the governments. It's always assumed they personally don't save anyone and so easily could personally request others to do so.

The rules they make are for the protection of their global reputation - not your life. They choose not to allow you to risk their embarrassment because you might be foolish enough to die. They don't care about your life - only your death. The blood is not so easy to wash away. The alternative is the expense of trying. Regulation becomes the cheaper alternative to minimize both.
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Old 28-01-2008, 06:09   #3
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Apart from the moral choice to assist in rescuing a distressed fellow sailor there are legal issues faced if you refused to assist.

In the case of a mayday situation the Rescue Coordinating Center (RCC) will canvas via VHF and/or SSB emergency channels plus any traffic control frequencies for any available vessels in the area to provide assistance to the vessel in distress. Once you answer that call and you are requested by RCC to go to that vessels assistance, refusal to comply for no good reason will have legal consequences, the least of which will be the removal of the master’s commercial licence if he has one.

At no time is the assisting vessel ever asked to put their boat and crew in danger. Basically they are to locate, standby and monitor the situation. In extreme conditions as in the case of a foundering or abandon ship, help look for, pick up and liaise with the survivors. The RCC are there to assist you on the best way of safely achieving a rescue if they cannot bring in their own resources.

Never heard of anyone refusing to help save a life.

p.s Except for the Canadian Coast Guard who said it was too rough to go out!
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Old 28-01-2008, 06:10   #4
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Rendering Assistance:
The master or person in charge of a vessel is obligated by law to provide assistance that can be safely provided to any individual in danger at sea.
The master or person in charge is subject to a fine and/or imprisonment for failure to do so.

Goto: Reporting Boating Accidents

The Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) also spells out the obligation on ships' masters to render assistance. It says,
"The master of a ship at sea which is in a position to be able to provide assistance, on receiving a signal from any source that persons are in distress at sea, is bound to proceed with all speed to their assistance, if possible informing them or the search and rescue service that the ship is doing so."
Elsewhere, it stipulates that contracting Governments should undertake "to ensure that necessary arrangements are made … for the rescue of persons in distress at sea around its coasts."

Regulation 33 - Distress Situations: Obligations and procedures
Summary
* Masters obliged to respond to distress messages from any source.
* Ships can be requisitioned by the master of a ship in distress or the search and rescue authorities.
Goto: https://mcanet.mcga.gov.uk/public/c4...gulation33.htm
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Old 28-01-2008, 06:38   #5
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That’s exactly correct Gord….. (Where do you find all that stuff?) But it also doesn’t prevent you from bringing along a Lloyds Open Form (no cure-no pay) and striking a salvage deal….Lol
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Old 28-01-2008, 07:14   #6
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The law of salvage adopted in Brussels in 1910 which incorporated the "'no cure, no pay" principle under which a salvor is only rewarded for services if the operation is successful.

This basic philosophy did not take pollution into account. A salvor who prevented a major pollution incident (for example, by towing a damaged tanker away from an environmentally sensitive area) but did not manage to save the ship or the cargo got nothing. There was therefore little incentive to a salvor to undertake an operation which has only a slim chance of success.

The 1989 Convention seeks to remedy this deficiency by making provision for an enhanced salvage award taking into account the skill and efforts of the salvors in preventing or minimizing damage to the environment.

The 1989 IMO International Convention On Salvage: (Entry into force: July 14, 1996)
IMO, International Convention On Salvage, 1989


Lloyd's has revised “The Lloyd's Open Form”.
LOF 2000: http://web.uct.ac.za/depts/shiplaw/fulltext/lof2000.pdf
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Old 28-01-2008, 07:48   #7
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Originally Posted by Pelagic View Post
Never heard of anyone refusing to help save a life.

p.s Except for the Canadian Coast Guard who said it was too rough to go out!
Care to elaborate on this statement? I don't doubt there are certain instances when common sense would prevent any thinking person from endangering ships and/or aircraft and their crews. IIRC, Ken Barnes had to wait for rescue, due to the extreme weather. I would hate to think you're casting aspersions at one of the most-respected professional coast guards in the world.
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Old 28-01-2008, 08:04   #8
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Pura Vida,

Gord beat me to the answer, but the link to the pertinent Convention is here: International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, 1979
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Old 28-01-2008, 08:09   #9
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Actual personal experience which I won’t elaborate on and dated many years ago when the USCG in Alaska had a much better track record with the offshore commercial fishermen (March Herring Season) than their Canadian counterparts in rough rescue work.

Probably unfair to compare due to huge budget differences, but the fact (was) the CCG did not have a great reputation in a storm. I do hope things have changed!
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Old 28-01-2008, 08:58   #10
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Pelagic,

Surely that would be dependent on whose SAR-zone the rescuee is in. Not to mention the availability of resources. There would maybe be one CCG vessel patrolling the Queen Charlotte area, and any aircraft would have to come from Comox, obviously affecting time to get there and time on-station. I imagine there are, or were, more ships and aircraft available from Anchorage, and Adak (before it closed).
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Old 28-01-2008, 09:59   #11
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For a number of years in the 70’s I was involved in the towing industry from Vancouver to Skagway and servicing the fishing fleet on the west coast of Vancouver Island and Hecate Strait. There were some incidences where other vessels (myself included) left harbour in storm conditions to assist a drifting vessel after the local CCG felt it was not safe. CCG helicopters refused to fly because of strong winds yet the USCG chopper did. Some of these incidences were well documented by the media at the time and I believe changes were promised.

My observation at the time was that the USCG was a quasi military organization with the training and the aggressive nature to get the job done. The CCG were more involved in buoy servicing and protecting their resources and the general consensus amongst the tough seaman who made their living in those waters, was that the CCG risk threshold was lower.

As a proud Canadian I was embarrassed that our CCG depended a lot on the USCG, who are still in my opinion the greatest! Again, it was a long time ago and I hope things have changed.
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Old 28-01-2008, 11:04   #12
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The rules they make are for the protection of their global reputation not your life.
I'll not speak for any other Nation, but I know NZ is not like that. We don't have a sole Govt. rescue organisation anyway. In fact, the
Govt. is slowly washing there hands of such. Apart from long range operations, many of the closer operations are via our "Westpac Helicopter" and other private choppers are often brought in for search and rescue. To say the Govt. is trying to save themselves from reputation also means that the public are trying to save reputation, as it is the public that tell the Govt. that they want or not want to spend their Tax dollars. At least we still have that ability here in NZ.
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Old 28-01-2008, 12:00   #13
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At no time is the assisting vessel ever asked to put their boat and crew in danger. Basically they are to locate, standby and monitor the situation. In extreme conditions as in the case of a foundering or abandon ship, help look for, pick up and liaise with the survivors. The RCC are there to assist you on the best way of safely achieving a rescue if they cannot bring in their own resources.
I was personally involved in a situation where the USCG requested a Korean bound vessel to pick-up a sailor from a vessel 100 miles off of Costa Rica. The vessel in question was fully capable of making shore, however there was no wind for several days and the sailboat had lost it's engine.

The skipper of the sailboat merely sent a message to a passing ship requesting that the ship's capt'n send a message to the nearest port requesting a tow.

Due to the fact hat the skipper of the sailboat stated that he "Had no power", the ship's capt'n felt obligated to notify the USCG of the sailboat's situation (realizing that there was little chance of anyone responding to his plea for a tow).

In turn, the USCG sent out a plane to check the situation. It was quite evident that the vessel was fully capable of sailing but the USCG contacted the sailboat skipper and told him that he should abandon his sailboat and take refuge on the container ship. The USCG then contacted the container ship and asked them to initiate a rescue.

The sailboat skipper told the USCG that he did not need a "Rescue" and the USCG (literally) badgered him into abandoning a sea worthy vessel. They told him that there was "Little chance" that another vessel would ever come his way again and that he was in a swift moving current that would eventually take him to the SoPac Ocean where he would never be seen. None of this information was factual. He was in the middle of one of the most heavily trafficked areas in the world. If he found that he had no wind 30 days later, it may have been time for him to hitch a ride.

To make matters worse, the USCG knew that wind was imminent. They even told the sailboat skipper that there was an impending "Storm". In fact, the wind picked up the following day and never got over 25kts in that area within the following weeks.
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Old 28-01-2008, 12:39   #14
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Is there a duty to rescue stranded sailors?
Yes. It comes from being a man.

We have a duty to rescue anyone without regard to their race creed colour or circumstance.
We have a duty to protect anyone who is at threat or feels they are.
We have a duty to protect all women and children.

Our duty is life long and is without regard to our own safety.
Our duty can never be legislated by Government, hindered by correctness or removed by law.

We are men and must act manfully.



Thats my firm belief

Mark
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Old 28-01-2008, 13:18   #15
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Yes. It comes from being a man.

We have a duty to rescue anyone without regard to their race creed colour or circumstance.
We have a duty to protect anyone who is at threat or feels they are.
We have a duty to protect all women and children.

Our duty is life long and is without regard to our own safety.
Our duty can never be legislated by Government, hindered by correctness or removed by law.

We are men and must act manfully.



Thats my firm belief

Mark
Well said!
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