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Must I Report It?

Aug 10th 09
By Benjamin Maltby, MatrixLloyd

In a recent Forum post, member rrsails asked the question: “What accidents should yachts report? Who to? When?”

The duty to report an accident depends on two sets of laws: the country in which the yacht is registered (the “flag state”) and the country in whose territorial waters the yacht is in when the accident happens – if any – (the “port state”).

Here, we’ll look by way of example at the United Kingdom flag and port states, as the model is followed by other Red Ensign and non-Red Ensign states. Relevant laws are the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 and the Merchant Shipping (Accident Reporting and Investigation) Regulations 2005. The UK’s Maritime & Coastguard Agency has made a useful summary of these in Marine Guidance Note (MGN) 289.

When a reportable “accident” takes place, the captain (or senior surviving officer if the captain is dead or incapacitated) must send an initial report to the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) as soon as is practicable and by the quickest means available. The owner (or manager responsible) must make sure that the captain or senior surviving officer has reported the accident, or report it him or herself. The report must include all the details listed in Annex C of MGN 289. There’s a useful reporting form, and copies of MGN 289 and relevant Regulations, on the MAIB’s website at

As far as is “reasonably practicable,” the captain must ensure that the circumstances of every accident are examined and make a follow-up report. The owner (or manager) or captain must also provide the MAIB with a report when asked to do so – stating the findings of examinations carried out, and all measures taken or proposed to prevent a recurrence.

“Accident” in this scenario has a wide but particular definition, which is set out in Annex B of MGN 289. Notably, “major injuries” are accidents and have be reported right away, while “serious injuries” are not “accidents” as such (!) but still need to be reported within 14 days.

Following a reportable accident, the captain or next surviving officer and the owner (or manager) must – so far as it is practicable to do so – ensure that all charts, log books, recording equipment and all other pertinent documents are kept and that no alteration is made to any recordings or entries.

There is no duty to report when an accident, serious injury or death occurs to a shore-based worker if this occurs in a port or shipyard in the United Kingdom, but note that the employer must still report these to the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – a kind of MAIB for land-based incidents.

Remember that the MAIB’s role is only to investigate accidents in order to prevent future similar accidents. It’s not there to apportion liability or blame, although some element of inferred blame may be inevitable. Neither does it prosecute anyone.

It’s important to understand that the duty to report is on the captain, manager and owner. These parties therefore need to make sure that all crewmembers are obliged to report all incidents matching the statutory requirements. This is most easily done through the captain’s standing orders and the International Safety Management (ISM) Code or Large Yacht (LY2) Safety Management System.

Benjamin Maltby is a lawyer with Palma-based consultants MatrixLloyd, providing impartial guidance on all aspects of yacht employment. Contact him at

Related Topics:

In Harm's Way (31/07/2009) 


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  • Jörg Wendt of D and B Services, Antibes, has asked me to remind readers of CHIRP (Confidential Hazardous Incident Reporting Programme). CHIRP is about reporting things voluntarily, to spread wisdom and aid prevention. They’re nothing do with any flag or port states. Further details may be found at Thanks, Jörg.

    Benjamin Maltby
    Posted by 17/08/2009 08:42:15

  • Bravo Benjamin, I only wish to add personal experience and practices. Personal practice is that anytime there is damage to a crew member requiring the attention and services of someone with Medical Training, example Medical Person in Charge, that a Incident report/statement be completed. The same form can be used and kept on board. If the medical person needs to remove a significant amount of medical supplies or medicines from the inventory, which the Master needs to account for, then something recordable has happened.
    Once a crew member is unable to execute their next scheduled watch, due to injuries or physical condition, then a accident report is filled out. If I have crew who cannot show up to work and finish a watch within 24 hours of the beginning of the watch due to a accident or their personal lack or responsibility (hangovers and illnesses) then paperwork begins. Even in the case of illness, as Masters are required to track all reported illness upon entry to all countries. It will happen, Just keep track of it.
    By definition, the Cayman Islands in their Shipping Notice 02/08 Reporting of Incidents, further details in the tables, the requirements on Cayman flagged vessels,
    in particular; Any accident resulting in a crew member being unfit to discharge their normal duties for a period in excess of 24hrs but less than 72 hours. This is my minimum for calling it in.
    The USCG and vessel subject to Port State Control mandates should follow the rules and fill in the USCG form 2692 available at search Form 2692. Citeria for reporting is;NOTICE OF MARINE CASUALTY (AKA an accident, you know a Boo-Boo or OOOPSy for some mariners)
    Title 46 Code of Federal Regulations Part 4.05-1 specifies notification of a marine casualty as follows: immediately
    after the addressing of resultant safety concerns, the owner, agent, master, operator, or person in charge, shall notify
    the nearest Marine Safety Office Marine inspection Office or Coast Guard Sector O
    Posted by Herb_1 12/08/2009 23:27:29

  • I think that all crew EMPLOYED on a yacht, so on the crew LIST, must be covered by medical insurance, the liability, if not covered on the P&I (public and indemnity, fully comprehensive insurance, no owner is obliged to have machinery or hardware,(so yacht can sink and no insurance cover) but DO have to have 3rd party, damage to others, also medical for crew) so structural insurance) this is directly traceable to an owner, or managers, For the information to the CREW, the original copy of insurance should be on-board, and available for all crew to access.
    Posted by cyd 11/08/2009 21:12:49

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