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Distressed ships no longer have ports of refuge

Distressed ships could face serious difficulties as an increasing number of ports are unwilling to receive them, according to the president of the international association of marine insurance companies.

Photo: Scanpix

There is an ancient golden rule that applies to distressed ships: They can call in the nearest port. And that port ought to be a port of refuge, a safe port. But this rule has become less and less golden since the 1960's. Due to increasingly complex rules regarding factors such as the environment, many ports now elect to turn down ships that need assistance, Ole Wikborg tells ShippingWatch. In addition to serving as CEO of marine insurance company Norwegian Hull Club he is also the acting president of the International Union of Marine Insurance, IUMI.

"It's a well-known problem for us that some ports and states decline to receive the ships. We've seen several examples of this, and it's quite alarming. To us this illustrates a stressed system, when they refuse to receive distressed ships," says Ole Wikborg.

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