On July 24, the U.S. Consulate recognized five shipping companies registered in Bermuda for participating in the United States Coast Guard’s (USCGC) voluntary search and rescue network, AMVER (Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue). Search and rescue authorities around the world use the voluntary ship reporting system to assist ships and aircraft in distress at sea.
In 2014, there were a record number of 8,094 ships registered with AMVER, or an average 7,623 ships on the plot on any given day, available to help ships and mariners in distress. AMVER ships rescued 1,330 sailors last year. As a current example of how AMVER works, last month the bulk carrier Nord Voyager rescued two sailors from the disabled sailboat Sailfish approximately 670 miles southwest of the Galapagos Islands. The USCG was able to divert the Nord Voyager to the sailboat only because the ship participated in AMVER.
Over 900 ships joined AMVER in 2014, including two of Teekay Shipping’s vessels registered here in Bermuda, the Magellan Spirit and the Whistler Spirit.
The local companies whose 20 ships received awards for participating in AMVER were:
- Bermuda Institute for Ocean Sciences for the Atlantic Explorer;
- Bernhard Schulte Ship Management Ltd. for the Bahama Spirit;
- Frontline/Golden Ocean Group Ltd. for the Channel Alliance, Front Tina, Golden Eminence, Golden Empress, Golden Endeavor, Golden Zhejiang, Golden Zhoushan, Sea Bay, Sea Hope, SFL Humber, andSFL Yukon;
- Neptune Group for the Oleander;
- Teekay Shipping Ltd. for the Ganges Spirit, Lowlands Brilliance, Magellan Spirit, Narmada Spirit, Peak Spirit, and Whistler Spirit.
After presenting letters of appreciation to representatives of the local participating companies and certificates of merit and pennants for their ships, acting U.S. Consul General Linda Rosalik said, “AMVER works; it saves lives, as those who have been rescued by participating vessels can attest. So thank you to these Bermuda companies, their ships and their crews for participating in the AMVER program during 2014 and continuing this practice in the future.”
In the AMVER system, participating ships send a sail plan to the AMVER computer center, indicating their ports of departure and arrival, course and speed. Vessels then report every 48 hours until arriving at their port of call. Thus AMVER is able to project the position of each ship at any point during its voyage in relation to a mariner, vessel, or aircraft in distress. AMVER rescue coordinators can then divert the best-suited ship or ships to respond.
Amver improves the chances for aid in an emergency and can reduce the time lost for vessels responding to calls for assistance by coordinating a rescue response, utilizing ships in the best position or with the best capability, thus eliminating unnecessary diversions by other vessels. By regular reporting, someone knows where a ship is at all times on its voyage in the event of an emergency. Regular Amver reports compress the area of a search if a ship is unreported or overdue, because Amver position reports verify that a ship arrived at a certain point on its voyage at a particular date and time.
Participation in AMVER is voluntary, free of cost, and open to all ships of all flags. Amver information is protected as “commercial proprietary” information and is released only to recognized national search and rescue authorities, and only in an emergency.