PLACES OF REFUGE
A SYSTEM THAT WORKS
The UK system for addressing the issue of places and ports of safety is to use the powers of intervention and direction invested in the SOSREP working with the MCA’s Counter Pollution and Response Branch. The system has now responded to hundreds of cases and has addressed a number of serious incidents requiring casualties to be sent to places of refuge. It is tried and tested and has been found to work.
The UK system incorporates a number of strengths and advantages including:
24 hour support from the state’s SAR response and MRCCs : The system is embedded into the UK SAR response and utilises the whole resources of Her Majesty’s Coast Guard to alert and assist it.
A SOSREP: This is a person who is able to make crucial decisions in very short time (on his own responsibility).
Officers of the MCA and Counter Pollution and Response Branch: The system includes officers of the CP&RB and Duty Counter Pollution & Salvage Officers who handle the day-to-day issues like preparedness (OPRC Plans etc) and auditing facilities. They also provide Duty Officers on a 24 x 7 basis to sift, monitor and handle all incidents reported by the Coast Guard.
A tested National Contingency Plan: The NCP has now been tested during incidents and in major exercises and provides a flexible yet formalised system of approach to marine emergencies. All participants know their roles and what is expected of them.
Involvement of independent experts: The MCA and the SOSREP maintain lists of recognised experts in all aspects of salvage and pollution response. Each of these individuals has pre-agreed to a call-off contract for their services. This means that when expertise is required an expert can be contacted without delay and the best possible advice becomes available.
Environmental input: Regional Environment Groups have been established by the MCA across the country. Each of these groups includes the major environmental regulators and local agencies. They are on 24 hours call and the system ensures that best environmental advice is available at short notice. Most of these Groups have now been involved in sufficient incidents to be aware of how the system works in emergencies.
Support from Harbour Masters: Many UK Harbour Masters have now been involved with our response system. The feedback both to the authorities and to other professional Harbour Masters and Harbour Authorities has been positive and we have found a welcome willingness to help and work with the system.