On July 14, 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.
The AMVER program, which was established in 1958, has grown exponentially. In 2005, only 3,004 ships actively participated in the system. In 2015, that number rose to 7,776 ships. In 2005, 3,159 vessels were on the plot on any given day, compared to an average 8,083 ships in 2015.
As an example of the life-saving measures performed by AMVER vessels, the bulk carrier Eastern Confidence rescued 41 migrants from a boat that capsized in the Mediterranean on April 16, 2016. The Filipino-flagged ship was alerted to the distress by the Greek Coast Guard and steamed to the distress location.
Fittingly, the awards ceremony took place aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle. U.S. Consul General Mary Ellen Koenig presented letters of appreciation to representatives of the five local participating companies and certificates of merit and pennants for their 15 ships:
- 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 Golden Eminence, Golden Empress, Golden Endeavor, Golden Zhejiang, Golden Zhoushan, Sea Bay, and Sea Hope;
- Neptune Group for the Oleander;
- Teekay Shipping Ltd. for the Ganges Spirit, Gialong Spirit, Narmada Spirit, Whistler Spirit and Lowlands Brilliance.
Consul General Koenig noted, “AMVER saves lives. It has proven itself time and time again. I want to thank these Bermuda companies, their ships and their crews for participating in the AMVER safety program during 2015 and for continuing this practice into 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.
Contact: Alexis Desloge, U.S. Consulate
278-7504 or firstname.lastname@example.org