Wreck Removal

August 2014


Convention set to come into force in 2015.

It was only a matter of time before the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007 as adopted on the 16 May 2007 attracted the requisite ten State signatures for the convention to come into force. On the 14 April 2014 Denmark became that tenth contracting state, although the Congo has subsequently joined the list of contracting states to bring the number to eleven. The convention will come into force on the 14 April 2015.

The convention sets out a number of provisions to identify the responsibilities towards a wreck, what actions are required, who is liable and certain exceptions to liability. The convention requires evidence of insurance for removal of wreck liabilities in respect of ships that are either registered in a convention state or seek to enter the jurisdiction of a contracting state. The convention further provides for direct action against an insurer in recovery of removal of wreck liabilities.

An interesting feature of the convention is that it only applies within the Exclusive Economic Zone of a contracting state, that is in waters extending 200 miles from the coast line but excluding the territorial waters of 12 miles from the coast line. Within the territorial waters the contracting state may apply its own legislation related to removal of wreck and without reference to the convention but the option exists for the contracting state to specifically extend the application of the convention to its own territorial waters. Bearing in mind most wrecks occur within territorial waters this feature can undermine the stated aims of the convention. Three contracting states have opted to apply the convention to its own territorial waters, Bulgaria, Denmark and the United Kingdom.

The Club prepared a more detailed analysis of the convention in its web site article of 2007 which can be accessed here.


Article by Ian Freeman