Port of refuge is a situation wherein a vessel has to be diverted to a port because of an emergency which has made it unsafe to sail further. The decision to call for a port of refuge is taken by the master of the ship when he finds that continuing the voyage would be dangerous to the safety of the crew, ship, and the environment.
After a ship gives out a call for the port of refuge, a certain procedure is followed to carry out the whole process smoothly. However, the procedure may vary because of various reasons such as the condition of the ship, the level of emergency etc.
Below is the general procedure every ship would go through after giving a Port of Refuge call.
- After giving port of refuge signal, the master would inform the owners and charters about the condition of the ship.
- Ship’s exact position would be noted
- After giving out the call for port of refuge, a separate record is maintained for all the additional expenditure that would be involved in the process
- The ship would seek for health clearance
- An agent would be appointed who would inform the port authority, pilot, local P&I surveyors, port health department, immigrations, customs and other necessary services required
- The vessel would then enter as “under average”
- Once the ship arrives at the port safely, the owners and charters would declare it “general average”
- A note of protest is issued, if required
- The classification society is informed
- In case there is any damage to the ship’s structure, the insurance agent is informed
- In case there is damage to the ship’s cargo, P&I club is informed
- If required, arrangement of cargo discharge, transhipment or warehousing of cargo is made
- GA bond (general average bond) and GA (general average) guarantee are provided in case the voyage is terminated
- Once the surveyors are finished with their reports, tenders are called for repairs in association with Salvage Association Surveyor and Insurance agent
- Completion of repairs are followed by another inspection by the class
- If the ship is found sea worthy an interim certificate is issued for the final certificate
- Once the ship is allowed to continue for voyage, reloading of cargo is carried out
- The note of protest would be extended with the details of damage and repairs
- All bills are then paid by the port agent
- Relevant documents are sent to the owners for onward transmission to average adjuster
- The ship enters vessel outwards on receiving custom outward clearance
- The voyage can then be safely continued
As mentioned earlier, the procedure may vary depending on the situation. However, the general procedure would remain the same.