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General response advice

General response advice

3.1.1 company’s and vessel’s emergency contingency Plan When an incident occurs, the Master and his/her officers should always refer to the Company’s Emergency Contingency Plan as required by the ISM Code. This Emergency Contingency Plan may have a different name under the safety management system implemented by the Company and the vessel. Such a plan should contain the Company’s and the vessel’s effective response to potential emergency situations.

When reporting to the Company following an incident, there may be forms in existence which most probably differ from those set out in this Part.

3.1.2 Purpose of Incident response Advice

The purpose of Part 3 differs from the Company’s reporting requirements. This Part 3, covering “Incident Response Advice” is intended to serve

  • as a quick pathfinder, and
  • helpful tool
  • to collect comprehensive evidence, and
  • retain important documents.
  • the first steps taken, i.e. the initial response
  • collection of evidence• documents to be retained.

The list of actions to be taken, evidence to be collected and documents to be retained as set out in this section is only a guide and should not be considered a conclusive checklist as each and every case is different!


3.1.3 Be prepared!

Even on the best run vessels accidents may still occur. If this happens, the consequences of an accident need to be and can be reduced if the Master and his crew are trained and prepared to respond in a professional manner and can be minimised by

The ability to react to a developing situation should be trained and drilled wherever and whenever appropriate in accordance with the vessel’s Emergency Contingency Plan as required by the ISM Code, section 8 – please also see section 2.7 Training and drills.

If the Master and his crew know what to expect, they will not be surprised or caught out!

3.1.4 the Master is the leader!

Leadership is needed when an incident occurs. The Master is the person on the spot whose professional judgement and skill must be used to deal with the situation to protect life, property and the marine environment.

3.1.5 do not underestimate an incident!

The Master and his officers should never underestimate an incident. It may look trivial, but its consequences can be serious.

The Master may be of the view that his vessel is not responsible for the incident or that any damage to the vessel or her machinery is minimal; however, this may not turn out to be the case. Alternatively, things may not turn out to be as they seemed at the time of the incident – a concerned or involved party may initially not complain or may play down the incident; a cargo with only slightly damaged packaging may have badly damaged contents; and the structure or foundations of a pier wall may be damaged even though the wall itself shows only traces of chafing. Any available evidence must therefore be collected and preserved immediately after the incident has occurred, even before assistance arrives from ashore.

The Master should always consider

  • contacting the correspondent or a surveyor via the correspondent
  • making notes and taking photographs or video of the incident or affected area
  • keeping a record of the sequence of events • reporting the incident as soon as possible
  • record any eye witness accounts.
3.1.6 contacts and instructions

Once an overview of the situation has been obtained and the initial measures have been initiated, the Master should take immediate instructions – as laid down in the Company’s and the vessel’s

Emergency Contingency Plan – from

  • the Company
  • the P&I insurer and/or the Hull and Machinery insurer, as the case may be
  • the correspondents or lawyers instructed by the insurers for and on behalf of the Company.

Gard AS provides a 24 hour contingency service. Expertise is pooled in a contingency team trained to handle catastrophes.

The emergency telephone numbers for Gard AS are:

For P&I:

International +47 90 52 41 00 National (Norway) 90 52 41 00

For Hull and Machinery:

International +47 90 92 52 00 National (Norway) 90 92 52 00

In any case, the Master should take the necessary action as is appropriate for the particular situation.


3.1.7 reporting the incident

When reporting an incident or when assistance is required, it is important that the Master, as soon as possible, provides the Company, the P&I and/or Hull and Machinery insurer or the correspondent with accurate information about

  • the incident
  • the type of assistance required.
  • his name and position
  • the vessel’s and Company’s names
  • the agent’s name in the port or intended port of call
  • the position/location of the vessel
  • the nature of the incident
  • the urgency of the incident
  • any personal injury involved and the extent thereof
  • the attitudes shown or actions of protestors, claimants, authorities or appointed surveyors
  • any threatened detention or arrest
  • the refusal to take delivery of the cargo
  • any notice or statement in which the vessel is held responsible
  • the vessel’s arrival/departure times
  • contact details for the Master and the vessel.

Only accurate reporting to the Company or the insurers, will enable them to instruct a surveyor with the appropriate expertise. When reporting, the Master should clearly state

See also section 2.2.3 Reporting.

3.1.8 Securing evidence

Claims will usually follow as a consequence of an accident or incident. Repairs to the vessel or machinery may need to be carried out. It is very important to collect the best possible evidence of the

  • nature
  • cause• extent, of any loss or damage.
  • retaining all relevant paper documentation and electronic data
  • taking photographs and video and labelling them with details of

As a fundamental rule, the Master must never interfere, destroy, tamper with or dispose of any evidence.

Even insignificant items can be of fundamental importance.

Evidence can be collected by

  • the date and time taken
  • the persons involved
  • the property damaged
  • the area concerned
  • retaining damaged equipment or parts – keep these in an appropriate place to avoid deterioration or corrosion and locked to prevent unauthorised access
  • retaining cargo samples – to avoid deterioration, keep these in appropriate containers or bottles – please also see section
  • noting the names, addresses and contact details of any eye witnesses
  • taking statements from any eye witnesses
  • filing sea protests and letters of protest
  • arranging for a survey through the correspondent. Cargo sampling dry bulk cargoes


When retaining physical evidence, the Master should personally take the responsibility of properly labelling and preserving such items, and ensuring they are not thrown away.

The Master should ensure that a digital camera, with fully charged batteries ready for use, is always available on the bridge and/or in the vessel’s office, to take photographic evidence as described above.

3.1.9 Access to the vessel, crew and documentation

– no admission of liability

Accidents not only attract the attention of the public and the media, but also potential claimants. Access to the vessel should only be granted in accordance with the Company’s and the vessel’s SSP under the ISPS Code. Therefore, nobody should be allowed access to the vessel unless they are

  • authorised by law (national or local authorities, ambulance, police etc.) and have properly identified themselves
  • authorised to act for or on behalf of the Company or the P&I or Hull and Machinery insurers and have properly identified themselves.

All persons allowed on board should be accompanied by a crew member at all times, preferably an officer, or a surveyor instructed to act for the vessel.

The Master and the crew should not talk to anyone unless the individual person produces proof that they are authorised to act for and on behalf of the Company or the insurer. This applies in particular to people claiming to be “underwriter’s representatives” or “surveyors”. Any representatives of the media should be referred to the Company.

The Master should never show, disclose or hand out documents to anybody except those authorised by and identified to act for the Company or the insurer.

The Master should never admit liability on behalf of the company, vessel or crew unless expressly authorised to do so by the company, the insurer or the Company’s own lawyer.

3.1.10 correspondents – surveyors – lawyers

Should the Master require assistance he/she should refer to Gard’s List of Correspondents which indicates where local assistance can be obtained.

The situation may require the correspondent to appoint a surveyor or lawyer. The surveyor or lawyer must provide the Master with proof that he has been instructed to act on behalf of the Company or the insurer, whereupon the Master should provide

  • all possible assistance
  • full co-operation
  • all information and documentation requested.
  • the factual background to the incident and details of the incident itself
  • what mitigating action has been taken
  • what evidence has been preserved and where it is stored
  • which witnesses (including names and contact details) are available.

When the Master and his officers are required to report, the quality of the information provided is essential. Information must be true, reliable and rendering facts, not opinions or speculations.

The Master should report to the correspondent or lawyer

3.1.11 Giving statements to the representatives of the insurer Following an incident the Master, his officers and crew are likely to be asked to provide signed statements. The person providing the statement should remember that the representatives of the insurers are trying to establish the facts and causes of an incident, not to criticise or undermine the individual. Any statement provided must be truthful.

3.1.12 Issuing and receiving protests in connection with an incident Issuing a protest

The issue of a protest may serve the purpose of either

  • recording a disagreement with another party, e.g. rough handling of cargo by the stevedores
  • reporting a specific event, such as heavy weather.
  • by the flag State’s law, or
  • by national law, i.e. the place of the incident or the vessel’s next port of call.
  • after an incident has occurred
  • to pursue a claim against a third party.
  • a collision has occurred
  • a tug has damaged the vessel or third party property
  • a stevedore has damaged the vessel, its equipment or cargo
  • the vessel has suffered damage due to the berth being unsuitable
  • and in any other instances where acts or omissions of another party may expose the Company to any liability, cost or expense.

Issuing a protest may be required either

Issuing a protest may be appropriate and required either

It is required to hold another party responsible in writing to protect the Company’s, the Master’s, the crew’s, and the insurer’s legal position. Examples of instances where such notices should be issued would include when

Different forms, formalities and procedures may be required depending upon where the protest is issued. Issuing a simple protest is sufficient in some jurisdictions, whilst in others the protest may be required to be sworn before a court of law or a notary public. The Master is therefore advised to contact the local correspondents or the instructed lawyers for assistance and advice.

If an incident has occurred where the Master considers noting a protest, he/she should do so and, for the protest to be effective, he/she should do so as soon as practicable. Receiving a protest

Utmost care should be exercised when

  • receiving a protest which the Master is requested to sign
  • making a statement following an incident.

If the contents of the protest received cannot be verified and the Master is not satisfied that it reflects the facts, he/she should always clause the protest “for receipt only and without admission of contents”.

Should the Master be requested to sign a statement following an incident, he/she should contact the local correspondents of the P&I or Hull and Machinery insurers for assistance prior to signing.

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