Sanchi collision could spark IMO review
John Gallagher, senior editor | 19 January 2018
Increased focus on international regulations designed to reduce the risk of maritime accidents could result from the deadly collision involving the Panama-flagged tanker Sanchi and Hong Kong-flagged bulker CF Crystal.
With investigations into the causes of the accident just getting underway, it’s too early to predict what if any regulatory changes could result.
However, the deaths of 32 seafarers and the potential for major damage to the environment resulting from the oil spill could trigger revisions to one or more International Maritime Organization (IMO) conventions such as the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), the International Convention on Standards of Training and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), and the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGs), according to maritime experts.
“Obviously these tragedies are not supposed to happen if rules are being followed and vessels have the proper equipment,” Eugene O’Connor, a lawyer specialising in marine pollution and ship casualty litigation with the firm Montgomery McCracken, told Fairplay. “But equipment malfunctions and there are lapses in judgment, so in reality, accidents can’t be 100% avoided.”
IMO conventions addressing maritime safety and environmental risk have been in force for decades, and O’Connor was unaware of recent changes or amendments to MARPOL, STCW, SOLAS, or COLREGs associated with collisions on the high seas, which could be further cause for a fresh look at the conventions pending the outcome of investigations into the accident.
“Hopefully the flag states will conduct a thorough investigation, and take that to the IMO and share that, so that collectively we can all benefit from it and then take appropriate action,” John Nadeau, assistant commandant for policy prevention at the US Coast Guard, told Fairplay.
At the same time, Nadeau added, it is also important to resist the temptation to “jump the gun” and get ahead of the facts.
“It’s important to let the investigation process work itself through and get the right information, rather than have a knee-jerk reaction and maybe do things that weren’t that informed to begin with.”