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Marine Guidance Note 564: marine casualty and marine incident reporting

On 13 October 2017, Marine Guidance Note ('MGN') 564 was published by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch ('MAIB').

MGN 564 provides guidance on the legal obligation (contained in the Merchant Shipping (Accident Reporting and Investigation) Regulations 2012 (as amended)), to notify the MAIB of marine casualties and marine incidents involving UK vessels worldwide and vessels of any flag in UK territorial waters. It describes the process and the information required for reporting. The notice replaces MGN 458, but no new requirements have been introduced.

MGN 564 applies to all: owners, operators, masters, skippers, officers and crews of merchant ships, fishing and pleasure vessels; and harbour authorities, VTS personnel, marine pilots and UK inland waterway authorities.

The new MGN is divided into sections of:

  • Who must report;
  • What to report;
  • When to report; and
  • How to report.

It is a legal requirement that any marine casualty or marine incident is notified to the MAIB as soon as practicable by the quickest means available. Any notification made to the MAIB does not remove any obligation to alert any other organisations.

A marine casualty is an event, or sequence of events, that occurred directly in connection with the operation of a ship, and resulted in:

  • The death of, or serious injury to, a person.
  • The loss of a person from a ship.
  • The loss, presumed loss or abandonment of a ship.
  • Material damage to a ship.
  • The ship being unfit to proceed, or required flag state approval or a condition of class before it may proceed.
  • At sea, a breakdown of the ship, requiring towage.
  • The stranding or disabling of a ship or the involvement of a ship in a collision.
  • Material damage to marine infrastructure external of a ship that could seriously endanger the safety of the ship, another ship or any individual.
  • Pollution, caused by damage to a ship(s).

A marine incident is an event, or sequence of events, which occurred directly in connection with the operation of a ship, that do not meet the criteria to be classified as a marine casualty but that endangered or would endanger, the safety of the ship, its occupants or any other person or the environment, for example close-quarters situations where urgent action was required to avoid collision.

It is an offence under Regulation 19 of the Merchant Shipping (Accident Reporting and Investigation) Regulations 2012 not to report a marine casualty or marine incident or provide the information required without reasonable cause. A person guilty of an offence will be liable on summary conviction to a fine.

MGN Consultation feedback

The consultation on the new guidance for  marine casualty and incident reporting ran from 20 March - 19 April 2017. The MAIB received 22 responses from a wide range of sectors of the maritime industry.

The majority of responses welcomed the shorter, simpler version of the MGN, and many felt that the pertinent information about reporting accidents was now easier to locate.

Many of the comments justified amendments to the MGN and the text was accordingly changed. For example, the duty to notify was extended to include 'managers', as owners may not be aware of the requirement to report. However, there were many cases where the MAIB felt good suggestions had been made, but the scope of the Regulations on which the MGN is based, did not facilitate their inclusion in the MGN. Nonetheless, the MAIB has noted these comments and they will be considered in future revisions of the Regulations. 

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