A workshop to sharpen the country’s skills in investigating marine incidents in line with international standards has opened in Accra yesterday.
The International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) Casualty Investigation Code specifies some mandatory requirements.
The training is also expected to equip participants with requisite knowledge and skills encompassing setting up an investigation, applying mandatory standards and identifying risks.
Marine casualty investigation aims to gather the information that could be used to prevent future accidents and also assist in determining what changes could be made to existing regulations.
Thirty-five participants drawn from the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, the Office of the Attorney-General, the Ghana Institute of Marine Surveyors, the Mariners Club and the Regional Maritime University (RMU) are participating in the two-week workshop hosted by the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) with financing from the IMO.
The participants will be taken through areas such as the interpretation of the marine accident casualty investigation code, the process of marine casualty investigation, and reporting on casualty investigations, search and rescue plans, among others.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the IMO Regional Representative for West and Central Africa, Dallas Laryea, indicated that Flag States such as Ghana had a duty to investigate any casualty which occurred on any of its ships and to report the findings to IMO through the instrument of Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS).
Article 94 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Capt. Laryea explained, recognised that a Flag State shall cause an inquiry to be held, by or before a suitably qualified person or persons into certain casualties or incidents of navigation on the high seas.
The objective of such an investigation, he stressed, was to determine what changes in the present regulations might be desirable and what remedial actions should be taken to enhance the safety of seafarers and passengers, and protect the marine environment.
"Against the foregoing background, IMO encourages the promotion of a common approach to the safety investigation of marine casualties and incidents, in particular, based on the implementation of the Casualty Investigation Code and the guidelines on fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime accident”, Capt. Laryea said.
A Deputy Director General of GMA, Yaw Akosa Antwi, in a welcome address, indicated that the changing structure in the various international laws associated with the marine sector required states to increase their interest in the processes.
The issue of marine casualty, he said, was not only related to vessel accidents but also to the safety of seafarers.
"It is, therefore, imperative that we leave no stone unturned in our efforts to ensure that experts who investigate incidents involving seafarers at sea are highly skilled at what they do," Mr Antwi said.
The GMA, in its frantic efforts towards the casualty investigation code, had collaborated with the Ghana Navy to set up investigative committees to look into various incidents that had occurred in recent years involving vessels such as MV Comforter II and other canoe transport incidents on the Oti and the Sene rivers.
The authority, Mr Antwi indicated, had initiated steps to establish a Marine Accident Investigation Board as part of measures to ensure maritime security and realise the envisaged sector growth.
He encouraged the participants to take advantage of the opportunity the course offers them to add value to their expertise in the field.