Press Release UK P&I Club: Search and Rescue Operations in the Mediterranean

Amanda Hastings, Claims Executive at UK P&I Club, comments on the effect of Operation Triton on search and rescue operations:

“Summer is once again upon us and the media coverage surrounding the refugee and migrant crisis in the Mediterranean continues, as do the criticisms of Operation Triton. So has anything really changed since Triton was introduced or do commercial operators still have to step in? 

“Launched on 1 November 2014, the EU’s Frontex Operation Triton has been a controversial replacement for its predecessor, the Italian Mare Nostrum programme. Unlike Mare Nostrum, Triton does not focus on ‘search and rescue’ (SAR) missions but focuses its efforts on ‘border management’. This means that the area for which government-led rescue efforts are responsible has been significantly reduced, and some have feared that this has led to an increase in casualties.  

“A direct consequence of this change, and the associated media coverage, has been an increase in non-governmental rescue organisations such as the Migrant Offshore Aid Station and Sea Watch. While the increase in NGOs tries to fill the gap left by Mare Nostrum, commercial ship operators are still often required to intervene. This may be made worse by the proposed EU NGO Code of Conduct, which may not allow NGOs access to Italian Ports unless they sign up. Concerns over the wording and impact of this have been raised by organisations such as Human Rights at Sea. 

“There are also potential problems on the horizon with the Defend Europe movement, a right-wing group, who may try to stop the work of NGO vessels – which could place additional pressure on the commercial operators.  

“Ships have an obligation to provide prompt assistance to any person “found at sea in danger of being lost” and to do so promptly. The only caveat to this being, if providing said assistance would cause serious danger to the ship and her crew. Failing to comply with these obligations could result in a fine and imprisonment. 

“Once onboard the ship, the rescued persons must also be provided with food, water and shelter until they can be landed.”

For further details, please contact:

Jonathan Atkins / Alastair Doyle / Helen Cotton

Four Broadgate


+44 (0) 20 3697 4200

Notes to Editors

The UK P&I Club is a leading provider of P&I insurance and other services to the international shipping community. Established in 1865 the UK P&I Club insures over 239 million tonnes of owned and chartered shipping through its international offices and claims network. ‘A (Stable)’ rated by Standard & Poor’s with free reserves and hybrid capital of $558m, the UK P&I Club is renowned for its specialist skills and expertise which ensure ‘best in class’ underwriting, claims handling and loss prevention services.

The UK P&I Club is managed by Thomas Miller, an independent and international insurance, professional and investment services provider.

Thomas Miller

Thomas Miller is an independent and international provider of insurance, professional and investment services. 

Founded in 1885, Thomas Miller’s origins are in the provision of management services to mutual organisations, particularly in the international transport and professional indemnity sectors; where today they manage a large percentage of the foremost insurance mutuals. Thomas Miller also manages insurance facilities for all the self-employed barristers in England & Wales, as well as trustees of pension schemes, patent agents and housing associations. 

Principal activities include:

  • Management services for transport and professional indemnity insurance mutuals
  • Investment management for institutions and private clients
  • Professional services including legal services, claims and captive management
  • Managing General Agency 

Staff Author