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Pollution Insurance cover

The cover provided by P&I insurers is involved when pollution occurs. The Company, P&I insurer or their correspondents must therefore be contacted immediately.

If the pollution is caused by the escape of oil from the other vessel following a collision, the cover provided by the Hull and Machinery insurers – other than on UK standard insurance conditions – may be involved – please see also section 1.8 Difference between P&I insurance and Hull and Machinery insurance. If this is the case, the Hull and Machinery insurers or their correspondents must also be contacted. Reference and national contact points

The Master should always seek assistance if his vessel has caused pollution, irrespective of the type of pollution!

If there is pollution, the Master should refer to and implement the relevant SOPEP for the particular jurisdiction in which the pollution has occurred.

Every pollution case is different, demanding an individual response in each case, and the Master should therefore also refer to the Gard Handbook on Protection of the Marine Environment. Co-operation with authorities – no admission of liability If the Master feels that his/her vessel has been wrongly blamed for the spill, or any of the response actions taken by the authorities is incorrect, he/she should make a note of protest after consulting the


P&I insurer, the correspondents or the lawyers acting on behalf of the Company – please see section Pollution not caused by the own vessel.

Before any admission of liability is made by the vessel’s Master and/or crew, the P&I insurer and the local correspondents must be consulted.

3.12.2 Pollution by oil

In most instances pollution by oil or oily substances causes considerable harm to animals and plants as well as damage to third party property. The initial damage may be caused by the pollutant itself. Clean-up operations may in some instances add to the damage and some affected property cannot be cleaned or repaired and must be replaced.

Depending on the amount of oil spilled and the extent of the pollution, the chemicals used by the authorities for dispersing the oil may increase the extent of the damage. In any case, measures to restrict the pollution and the subsequent clean-up should be left to the national authorities or the contractors engaged by the Company or its representatives, as the case may be in some countries, e.g. USA. These contractors have the experience to deal with pollution as well as the necessary equipment and manpower. However, this does not prevent the P&I insurer or the Company from becoming involved in monitoring the clean-up, which will normally be undertaken by experts appointed by the P&I insurer or the correspondents for and on behalf of the Company.

3.12.3 Pollution by noxious liquid substances carried in bulk – chemicals Due to the often catastrophic effects of pollution by noxious liquid substances in bulk – chemicals – any activity which deals with containing pollution and clean-up should be left to the local authorities unless national law requires the Company to instruct contractors to carry out these operations – as the case may be in some countries, e.g. USA. Monitoring of such operations will usually be carried out by experts appointed by the P&I insurers.

3.12.4 Pollution by harmful substances in packaged form

– dangerous cargoes

If pollution has occurred, the Master should seek the co-operation of the authorities to minimise the consequences.

3.12.5 Pollution in non uS waters – underway, alongside or at anchor Pollution occurring in the open sea may nevertheless affect the environment and the coastline of a neighbouring state. The Master is therefore advised to immediately notify

  • the competent administration of the nearest coastal state
  • the Company
  • the P&I insurer
  • the nearest correspondent, whose number can be found in the List of Correspondents.
  • immediately evaluate the situation• determine how best to contain the spill
  • limit the pollution.

If the vessel is at anchor, in the port area or alongside and pollution occurs, the Master is advised to also notify the vessel’s local agent.

Until such time that support from ashore arrives, the Master, together with the vessel’s designated spill officer or safety officer must

3.12.6 Pollution in uS waters Immediate notification and contacts

Should pollution occur in US waters – irrespective of the type of vessel involved – the Master should be familiar with the Vessel Response Plan, which will contain the contact information for the individuals and authorities which must be notified immediately

  • Qualified Individual (appointed under OPA’90 legislation)
  • US Coast Guard National Response Centre
  • US Coast Guard Marine Safety Office closest to the spill
  • vessel’s local agent
  • the Company
  • local correspondents whose number can be found in the Gard List of Correspondents.

Telephone +1 800 424 8802 or +1 202 267 2675, or

Delayed notification or failure to give notice can have serious financial consequences including the imposition of large fines on both individuals and the Company. Criminal investigations

If the authorities decide to conduct a criminal investigation, the Master and the officers and/or engineers involved may have the right to remain silent and the right to seek advice from lawyers before responding to any questions from the authorities. However, the Master should make it clear to the authorities that he/she will co-operate fully with their investigations, but requires a lawyer to be in attendance during any enquiries or interviews.

The Master should not direct the crew to lie, destroy, tamper with or hide evidence.

If the Master does so, he/she may be charged with obstruction of justice. If the Master or any other person involved on board is uncertain about their rights and responsibilities in a criminal investigation advice should be obtained from the local correspondents or a local law office.

3.12.7 co-operation with contractors

When pollution occurs, the Master should ensure that the crew is co-operating fully and supporting

  • all contractors combating the spill
  • the authorities
  • the correspondents.

3.12.8 no chemicals to be used unless approved!

Chemical dispersants must not be used following an oil spill, unless and until their use has been approved by the local or national authorities!

3.12.9 Vessel’s plans

If the spill was caused by damage to the vessel’s structure, all relevant blueprints of the vessel’s structure should be readily available. The Master should ensure that an officer from the vessel is assigned to the task of providing assistance when necessary in interpreting the blueprints.

3.12.10 evidence to be collected

In addition to keeping a continuous record of all events and actions taken, the following evidence must be collected. Description of the incident

  • Date and exact time of pollution recorded on the bridge and in the engine room, vessel’s local time and UTC (Co-ordinated Universal Time)
  • type of pollution
  • operation during which pollution occurred,
  • pollutant
  • approximate amount spilled (in case of oil or chemical pollution)
  • vessel’s position/location
  • courses (chart course, steered course, gyro and magnetic compass) at the time of the spill – if pollution occurred at sea
  • speed, propeller revolutions or propeller pitch of the vessel at the time of the spill – if pollution occurred at sea
  • any compass and/or radar bearings and distances to the coastline taken and recorded – if pollution occurred at sea
  • prevailing weather conditions (particularly wind direction and force) at the time of spill (keep any weather records)
  • tide and current at the time of the spill
  • draught of the vessel at the time of the spill.
  • Type of operation, e.g. bunkering, transfer
  • commencement of operation – date and vessel’s time
  • persons involved in the operation

e.g. bunkering, collision Description of the operation during which pollution occurred

  • on deck
  • in the engine room
  • ashore or on bunker barge
  • names, ranks, duties
  • details of attending supervising officer.
  • Name and contact details of the company
  • names and contact details of the company’s personnel involved in the operation
  • duties of the personnel involved in the operation
  • name of bunker vessels/bunker barges
  • if the pollution was caused during bunkering Other companies involved in the pollution – bunker and other suppliers

  • whether any procedures had been agreed, e.g. commencement, rate of flow, interruptions
  • how communications were effected
  • were there any difficulties in communicating, e.g. language, noise
  • were there any difficulties as such with the operation.
  • Description
  • location
  • extent of pollution. Property damaged by pollution

Copies of documents referred to above together with copies of other trading documents will be taken by the lawyer or correspondent instructed on behalf of the Company or the P&I insurer.

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