In 2021, ships in the Amver system helped rescue 224 lives. The US Coast Guard honoured 22 of Grieg’s vessels with the Amver Award earlier this month.
The Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System (Amver) is a computer-based voluntary global ship reporting system. Amver is used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea. The Amver system contributed to saving 224 lives last year.
The US Coast Guard was instrumental in establishing Amver and still sponsors the system. During the award ceremony at the US embassy in Norway during Nor-Shipping, USCGs Commander Eric Casler said:
“Amver is about trust, helping those that cannot help themselves. There were a combined 329 Amver cases in the past two years resulting in 245 lives saved. Hundreds of ships either saved or participated in searches for those in distress. The Amver system saw the number of ships available for search and rescue exceed 6,700 each day.”
In a letter to seafarers on Amver-ships, the Director of Amver Maritime Relations in the US Coast Guard, Mr Benjamin M Strong, stated:
“Whether your ship is a new participant or has been active for many years, you should take pride in the voluntary commitment of your officers and crews to the safety of life at sea.”
All 22 Grieg vessels in the Amver-system have been enrolled for more than six years. Our longest “serving” vessel is the Star Hidra, being a part of the system for 27 years. Two vessels, the Star Ismene and Star Java, got the Amver plaque for completing fifteen consecutive years of participation.
“Your vessels contributed to another record-breaking year at Amver, and we are thankful for your active participation as we celebrate 64 years of saving lives at sea. The previous year has been one like no other. You, the seafarer, have earned this recognition for ensuring goods were delivered to a world that needed them,” Mr Strong writes.
According to international law, a ship must attempt the rescue of persons in danger at sea. The duty is based on a long-standing and strongly felt moral obligation among seafarers. The responsibility is, among other places, stated in the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). All states recognize this duty.
“We hold our obligation to help during a search and rescue and to save life at sea seriously. Participating in Amver is a good way to ensure efficient and effective SAR operations, and all our vessels report their position to Amver. Still, it is nice to be recognized for being a part of this,” says Head of Grieg Star, Atle Sommer.
“Whether it is a commercial ship saving stranded fishermen, a container ship saving a yachtsman or a cruise ship saving migrants looking for a better life, Amver ships are available and save, over the last ten years, one life a day. Regardless of cost and braving dangerous weather and seas, vessels from hundreds of nations have agreed to provide a blanket of protection over the world’s oceans. Putting aside political ideology, religious preference, and nationality, a network of mariners ensures no call for help goes unanswered,” stated USCGs Commander Eric Casler.
Head of Grieg Star, Atle Sommer, received the award from USCGs Commander Eric Casler and Charge d’affaire Sharon Hudson-Dean
How does Amver work?
Merchant ship owners or managers enter specific information about their vessels into the Amver database on what is known as a search and rescue questionnaire or SAR-Q. Participating ships send a sail plan to the Amver computer centre before sailing. Vessels then report their locations every 48 hours until arriving at their port of call.
Search and rescue controllers can predict the position of each ship at any point during its voyage. The position of each participating vessel is displayed in an Amver surface picture or SURPIC. In an emergency, any rescue coordination centre can request this SURPIC to determine the relative position of Amver ships near the distress location and divert the best suited ship or ships to respond.
Amver’s success is tied directly to the number of merchant vessels regularly reporting their position. The more ships on plot, the greater the chance a ship will be identified near the position of distress. Ships incur no additional obligation to respond than already exists under international law of the sea.
To get the Amver Award for participating, a ship needs to report their position for at least 128 days through the year. In 2021, The US Coast Guard gave the award to 6.976 vessels worldwide