33 - Distress Situations: Obligations and procedures
obliged to respond to information that persons are in distress
at sea received from any source.
can be requisitioned by the master of a ship in distress or
the search and rescue authorities.
persons to be treated humanely and delivered to a place of safety.
master of a ship at sea which is in a position to be able
to provide assistance on receiving information from any source
that persons are in distress at sea, is bound to proceed with
all speed to their assistance, if possible informing them
or the search and rescue service that the ship is doing so.
This obligation to provide assistance applies regardless of
the nationality or status of such persons or the circumstances
in which they are found. If the ship receiving the distress
alert is unable or, in the special circumstances of the case,
considers it unreasonable or unnecessary to proceed to their
assistance, the master must enter in the log-book the reason
for failing to proceed to the assistance of the persons in
distress, taking into account the recommendation of the Organization,
to inform the appropriate search and rescue service accordingly.
Governments shall co-ordinate and co-operate to ensure that
masters of ships providing assistance by embarking persons
in distress at sea are released from their obligations with
minimum further deviation from the ships' intended voyage,
provided that releasing the master of the ship from the obligations
under the current regulation does not further endanger the
safety of life at sea. The Contracting Government responsible
for the search and rescue region in which such assistance
is rendered shall exercise primary responsibility for ensuring
such co-ordination and co-operation occurs, so that survivors
assisted are disembarked from the assisting ship and delivered
to a place of safety, taking into account the particular circumstances
of the case and guidelines developed by the Organization.
In these cases the relevant Contracting Governments shall
arrange for such disembarkation to be effected as soon as
master of a ship in distress or the search and rescue service
concerned, after consultation, so far as may be possible,
with the masters of ships which answer the distress alert,
has the right to requisition one or more of those ships as
the master of the ship in distress or the search and rescue
service considers best able to render assistance, and it shall
be the duty of the master or masters of the ship or ships
requisitioned to comply with the requisition by continuing
to proceed with all speed to the assistance of persons in
of ships shall be released from the obligation imposed by
paragraph 1 on learning that their ships have not been requisitioned
and that one or more other ships have been requisitioned and
are complying with the requisition. This decision shall, if
possible be communicated to the other requisitioned ships
and to the search and rescue service.
master of a ship shall be released from the obligation imposed
by paragraph 1 and, if his ship has been requisitioned, from
the obligation imposed by paragraph 2 on being informed by
the persons in distress or by the search and rescue service
or by the master of another ship which has reached such persons
that assistance is no longer necessary.
provisions of this regulation do not prejudice the Convention
for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law Relating to Assistance
and Salvage at Sea, signed at Brussels on 23 September 1910,
particularly the obligation to render assistance imposed by
article 11 of that Convention.*
of ships who have embarked persons in distress at sea shall
treat them with humanity, within the capabilities and limitations
of the ship.
International Convention on Salvage 1989 done at London
on 28 April 1989 entered into force on 14 July 1996
33 applies to all ships.
regulation places an obligation on masters to respond to
information from any source that persons
are in distress at sea.
This Regulation has been substantially revised, including
the addition of paragraphs 1.1 and 6. to clarify the obligations
and procedures when information on any distress situation
at sea is received. Included is the obligation for rescued
persons to be delivered to a place of safety and their humane
treatment when on board the rescue ship.
information is contained in IMO Resolution MSC.167(78)
Guidelines on the treatment of persons rescued at sea.
revisions to this Regulation came into force on 1 July 2006
[IMO Resolution MSC.153(78)]
should be made to Volume 3 of the International Aeronautical
and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) manual adopted in
2000 by IMO Resolution A.894(21) which is required to be carried
on board all ships as per Regulation
21 - International Code of Signals and IAMSAR Manual.
who, in special circumstances, decide not to respond to a
distress must enter their reasons in the logbook and, if they
have responded to the distress, inform the appropriate search
and rescue authorities of their decision not to proceed.