1 Introduction
Clasification Society 2024 - Version 9.40
Statutory Documents - IMO Publications and Documents - Guidelines - SOPEP - Guidelines for the Development of Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency PlansResolution MEPC.54(32) Amended by Resolution MEPC.86(44) - 1 Introduction

1 Introduction

  1.1 These Guidelines have been developed to assist with the preparation of the shipboard oil pollution emergency plans (hereinafter referred to as the “Plan(s)”) that are required by regulation 26 of annex I of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto, as amended (MARPOL 73/78) (hereinafter referred to as the “Convention”). The Plan must be approved in accordance with this regulation.

  1.2 The Guidelines comprise three primary sections:

  • .1 Introduction: This section provides a general overview of the subject-matter and introduces the reader to the basic concept of the Guidelines and the Plans that are expected to be developed from them.

  • .2 Mandatory provisions: This section provides guidance to ensure that the mandatory provisions of regulation 26 of annex I of the Convention are met.

  • .3 Non-mandatory provisions: This section provides guidance concerning the inclusion of other information in the Plan. This information, although not required by regulation 26 of annex I of MARPOL 73/78, may be required by local authorities in ports visited by the ship, or it may be added to provide additional assistance to the ship's master when responding to an emergency situation. This section also provides guidance on updating and application of the Plan.

  1.3 Concept of the Guidelines: The Guidelines are intended to provide a starting point for the preparation of the Plans for specific ships. The broad spectrum of ships for which Plans are required makes it impractical to provide specific guidelines for each ship type. Plan writers are cautioned that they must consider in their Plans the many variables that apply to their ships. Some of these variables include: type and size of ship, cargo, route, and shore-based management structure. The Guidelines are not intended to be a compilation of menu items from which the Plan writer can select certain sections and produce a workable Plan. For a Plan to be effective and to comply with regulation 26 of annex I of the Convention, it must be carefully tailored to the particular ship for which it is intended. Properly used, the Guidelines will ensure that all appropriate issues are considered in developing the Plan.

  1.4 Concept of the Plan: The Plan is available to assist personnel in dealing with an unexpected discharge of oil. Its primary purpose is to set in motion the necessary actions to stop or minimize the discharge and to mitigate its effects. Effective planning ensures that the necessary actions are taken in a structured, logical, safe and timely manner.

  1.4.1 The Plan must go beyond providing for operational spills. It must include guidance to assist the master in meeting the demands of a catastrophic discharge, should the ship become involved in one.

  1.4.2 The need for a predetermined and properly structured Plan is clear when one considers the pressures and multiple tasks facing personnel confronted with an emergency situation. In the heat of the moment, lack of planning will often result in confusion, mistakes, and failure to advise key people. Delays will be incurred and time will be wasted; time during which the situation may well worsen. As a consequence, the ship and its personnel may be exposed to increasing hazards and greater environmental damage may occur.

  1.4.3 For the Plan to accomplish its purpose, it must be:

  • .1 realistic, practical, and easy to use;

  • .2 understood by ship management personnel, both on board and ashore;

  • .3 evaluated, reviewed, and updated regularly.

  1.4.4 The Plan envisioned by regulation 26 of Annex I of the Convention is intended to be a simple document. Use of summarizing flow charts or checklists to guide the master through the various actions and decisions required during an incident response is highly encouraged. These can provide a quickly visible and logically sequenced form of information which can reduce error and oversight during emergency situations. Inclusion of extensive background information on the ship, cargo, etc., should be avoided as this is generally available elsewhere. If such information is relevant, it should be kept in annexes where it will not dilute the ability of ship's personnel to locate operative parts of the Plan.

  1.4.5 An example of a summarizing flow chart referred to in paragraph 1.4.4 is included in the Example Format for Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan at appendix II.

  1.4.6 The Plan is likely to be a document used on board by the master and officers of the ship. It must therefore be available in a working language or languages understood by the master and officers. A change in the master and officers which brings about an attendant change in their working language or languages understood would require the issuance of the Plan in the new languages.

  1.4.7 The Plan should clearly underline the following

"Without interfering with shipowners' liability, some coastal States consider that it is their responsibility to define techniques and means to be taken against an oil pollution incident and approve such operations which might cause further pollution, i.e., lightening. States are in general entitled to do so under the International Convention relating to Intervention on the High Seas in Cases of Oil Pollution Casualties, 1969 (Intervention Convention) ."

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