Security of Ships at sea

Programme Topics:

Global SAR Plan

The Global SAR Plan and Global Maritime Distress and Safety System Master plan of Shore Based Facilities (GMDSS Master Plan). A global SAR plan has been developed, defining detailed responsibilities for each member nation and lists their SAR Authorities.


Marine Casualties and Incidents – IMO Instruments

Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), article 94 on Duties of the flag State, paragraph 7, “Each State shall cause an inquiry to be held by or before a suitably qualified person or persons into every marine casualty or incident of navigation on the high seas involving a ship flying its flag and causing loss of life or serious injury to nationals of another State or serious damage to ships or installations of another State or to the marine environment. The flag State and the other State shall co-operate in the conduct of any inquiry held by that other State into any such marine casualty or incident of navigation.”


Places of Refuge

Ship in need of assistance means a ship in a situation, apart from one requiring rescue of persons on board, that could give rise to loss of the vessel or an environmental or navigational hazard. Place of refuge means a place where a ship in need of assistance can take action to enable it to stabilize its condition and reduce the hazards to navigation, and to protect human life and the environment. MAS means a maritime assistance service, responsible for receiving reports in the event of incidents and serving as the point of contact between the shipmaster and the authorities of the coastal State in the event of an incident.


Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea

The threat posed by piracy and armed robbery against ships has been on the IMO’s agenda since the early 1980s. In the late 1990s and the early 2000s the focus was on the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. More recently, since 2005, IMO has focused on piracy off the coast of Somalia, in the Gulf of Aden and the wider Indian Ocean, and is currently implementing a strategy for enhancing maritime security in West and Central Africa, in line with the region’s maritime security agreements. The Organization, with support and cooperation from the shipping industry, has through the years developed and adopted a number of antipiracy measures, which have contributed towards the mitigation of the negative impact posed by piracy worldwide. Information regarding acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships is publicly available (subject to registration) in IMO’s Piracy and Armed Robbery module within the Organization’s Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS).


Inter-agency Platform for information sharing on migrant smuggling by sea

A new inter-agency platform for information sharing on migrant smuggling by sea has been launched by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in order to better understand unsafe mixed migration by sea.