In today’s complex world and ever demanding Legal and Operational environments, shipping companies have to adhere to the principles of transparency, environmental protection and social corporate responsibility in order to conduct their operations in a safe and sustainable manner.
A high general level of safety should be maintained in maritime transport and every effort should be made to reduce the number of marine casualties and incidents.
The purpose of safety investigations into marine accidents is to reduce the risk of future casualties and incidents and reduce their serious consequences including loss of life, loss of ships and pollution of the marine environment. Through application of common methodology and an objective and systemic approach to the investigation, the investigative body should best be able to draw lessons from each accident and so enhance maritime safety. Proper identification of the causes of a marine casualty or incident requires timely and methodical investigation, going beyond the immediate evidence and looking for underlying conditions which may cause other future occurrences. Investigation may therefore be seen as a means of identifying not only immediate causes, but also issues in the total environment from regulation and policy through to implementation.
When the need for investigations of maritime incidents or other related problems arise, they are handled by the Palau International Ship Registry’s Marine Investigations Department.
Marine casualty investigations are administrative proceedings that are essentially remedial in nature. Most of the Marine Investigations’ functions involve “incidents” which can be thought of as undesired events or occurrences that require intervention by the Administration. They can be events that directly involve the ship such as a detention, casualty, contravention (MARPOL 73/78, TSS and COLREG), an oil spill, etc.
Vessel casualty investigations cover a variety of incidents including, but not limited to; fire, explosion, collision, grounding, contact, heavy weather damage, hull cracking and defects.Casualty investigations also include looking into possible violations of law or failure on the part of personnel, shipowners, or ship operators, which could result in personnel action against licenses, certificates of competency or seafarer documents. Incidents may also be personnel related such as death or an injury, failure to properly perform duties, crew grievances, or an act of fraud or misconduct. An interaction between “incidents” is also possible such as a shipboard explosion that injures a seafarer or improper navigation that results in a vessel grounding or collision. Any incident may relate also to issues such as embargoes, treaties, tariffs, desertion, stowaway, crew wages issues, etc.
SOLAS Chapter 1, Regulation 21 requires Administrations to investigate certain casualties and to notify the IMO of the results. The Palau Registry Administration will investigate casualties occurring on Palau-flagged vessels when an investigation may assist in determining what changes may be useful to the amendment of the present rules and regulations.