International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR)


Document Aim of the document Important

International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR)
(Adoption: 27 April 1979; Entry into force: 22 June 1985; Major revisions: May 1998, May 2004)

PDF version available here

The Convention establishes search and rescue related preparatory measures that should be taken into account in the event of maritime accidents. The Convention aims at developing an international search and rescue plan (SAR plan), no matter where an accident occurs. The rescue of persons in distress at sea will be co-ordinated by a SAR organization and, when necessary, by co-operation between neighbouring SAR organizations. Preparatory measures also include establishment of rescue co-ordination centres and subcentres. In addition, the convention outlines operating procedures to be followed in the event of emergencies or alerts and during SAR operations. Details regarding the designation of an on-scene commander are also included in the Convention.

Parties are required to establish rescue co-ordination centres and to operate them on a 24-hour basis with trained staff who have a working knowledge of English.