By Wendy Laursen 2015-06-21 19:17:54
An agreement between passenger ship operators to provide search and rescue services for each other could help save lives during mass rescue operations.
The idea of a formal agreement between operators was proposed by Captain Samir Mahdaly, lecturer at the Arab Academy of Scientce, Technology and Maritime Transport, during the 2015 World Maritime Rescue Congress convened by the International Maritime Rescue Federation.
Mahdaly studied a range of rescue operations to demonstrate how commercial and civilian vessels have contributed to rescue operations. In particular, he cites the ferry Bella that caught fire in 2011. All passengers and crew were rescued even though fire-fighting efforts failed and the vessel subsequently sank.
The ferry was carrying 1,230 passengers and 65 crew on a voyage between Jordan and Egypt. The ro-ro Ayla, with a capacity of 1,150, the fast ferry Queen Nefertiti, with a capacity of 750 passengers, the fast ferry Babylon, with a capacity of 350 passengers, and the fast ferry Princess, with a capacity of 600 passengers, came to assist.
Women, children, the elderly and those with special needs were disembarked to liferafts and the remainder climbed down rope ladders to the rescuing vessels that transferred them to the waiting passenger vessels. After the fire engulfed one side of the vessel, the remaining passengers were transferred to the other side of the vessel to continue the evacuation.
Ayla took around 800 passengers, Babylon took 100 and the remainder were divided between Princess and Nefertiti. The rescue was completed in 96 minutes.
Mahdaly says the success of the evacuation demonstrates the potential of his idea for a formal agreement between operators. This would reduce the demand for search and rescue services in areas where capabilities are low.
He says it would provide a sense of safety for crews and passengers and potentially reduce insurance costs. It would also encourage maritime tourism that would provide economic benefits for the economy of the countries involved.