Regulation 7 - Search and Rescue Services


  • Contracting Governments to provide Search and Rescue services and make available the information relating to them.
  • Passenger ships must have a prepared plan on board for co-operation with SAR authorities.
Regulation 7
1. Each Contracting Government undertakes to ensure that necessary arrangements are made for distress communication and co-ordination in their area of responsibility and for the rescue of persons in distress at sea around its coasts. These arrangements shall include the establishment, operation and maintenance of such search and rescue facilities as are deemed practicable and necessary, having regard to the density of the seagoing traffic and the navigational dangers and shall, so far as possible, provide adequate means of locating and rescuing such persons.*
2. Each Contracting Government undertakes to make available information to the Organization concerning its existing search and rescue facilities and the plans for changes therein, if any.
3. Passenger ships to which chapter I applies shall have on board a plan for co-operation with appropriate search and rescue services in the event of an emergency. The plan shall be developed in co-operation between the ship, the company, as defined in regulation IX/1 and the search and rescue services. The plan shall include provisions for periodic exercises to be undertaken to test its effectiveness. The plan shall be developed based on the guidelines developed by the Organization.

* Refer to the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR), 1979 and the following resolutions adopted by the Organization:

Homing capability of search and rescue (SAR) aircraft (Resolution A.225(VII));
Use of radar transponders for search and rescue purposes (Resolution A.530(13));
Search and rescue homing capability (Resolution A.616(15)); and
International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual (Resolution A.894(21)).

MCA Guidance
1. Paragraphs 1 and 2 address Contracting Governments, requiring them to establish SAR systems covering their area of responsibility. Reference should be made to the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, 1979 as amended.
2. Civil maritime Search and Rescue is co-ordinated by HM Coastguard within the UK Search and Rescue Region (UKSRR), which maintains a continuous distress watch on international distress frequencies, digital selective calling and satellite communications. HM Coastguard collates and broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and MF radio and NAVTEX. Radio medical advice and assistance is provided through 18 Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCCs).

Paragraph 3 requires Passenger ships to which chapter I applies (i.e. all passenger ships engaged on international voyages, "SOLAS I" ships,) to have a plan for cooperation with appropriate search and rescue services in event of an emergency. The plan must be drawn up in cooperation between the ship, the company and the SAR services, following the IMO Guidelines laid out in MSC Circular 1079 for Preparing Plans for Cooperation between Search and Rescue Services and Passenger Ships (in accordance with SOLAS Regulation V/7.3) Provision for periodic exercises must be incorporated within the plan.


All UK Passenger Ships are required to comply with the requirements of SOLAS V/7.3. Full details of the requirements for SAR Cooperation Plans on UK Passenger ships and how they are to be implemented are contained in MSN 1783 - Arrangements for the Carriage of Agreed Search and Rescue Co-operation Plans aboard UK Passenger Vessels, which includes the full text of IMO MSC Circ. 1079 (Annex B).


Further information is given in the following MCA documents (which may be found on the MCA Website):

Maritime Safety Information

The UK SAR Framework

MSN 1783



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