This Regulation shall cover accidents and incidents at sea, referred to in this Regulation as “marine accidents”, diving accidents and other incidents occurring on or in water.
The Marine Accident Investigation Board shall operate independently of the public authorities and other investigators, the public prosecutor and the courts. The Board shall itself decide when there is cause to investigate a marine accident or other incidents, as provided for in the first paragraph.
The Marine Accident Investigation Board shall have jurisdiction over all Icelandic vessels, as well as all foreign vessels sailing to and from Iceland if Icelandic interests are involved in a marine accident. The Board may investigate other accidents or incidents occurring aboard foreign vessels sailing to Iceland or in Iceland’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) if the Board sees reason to do so or if requested by the vessel’s flag state.
Purpose of the investigation
The Board shall in all its investigations be guided by the fact that investigations as provided for in Act No. 68/2000 and this Regulation be intended solely to prevent accidents on board and to increase safety at sea. The purpose of the investigation is not to allocate fault or responsibility.
For the purpose of this Regulation, the following words and expressions shall have the meanings ascribed to them below:
A party to a case is any person or persons which the investigation reveals could have been involved in causing a marine accident, in the estimation of the Board, as well as anyone who has been seriously injured.
A marine accident shall mean an event resulting in any of the following:
- the death or serious injury of a person in connection with a vessel’s operation;
- a person falling overboard due to, or in connection with, a vessel’s operation;
- a vessel sinking, or a vessel is presumed to have sunk, or a vessel being deserted;
- damage to a vessel or parts of it in connection with a vessel’s operation;
- environmental damage due to damage to a vessel or vessels which has occurred during, or in connection with, a vessel’s or vessels’ operation; or
- other accident or incident which the Board sees cause to investigate.
A very serious accident shall mean a marine accident resulting in the loss of a vessel, loss of human life or major pollution.
A serious accident shall mean a marine accident which is not considered a very serious accident but involves anyone of the following:
- fire, explosion, grounding, collision, weather damage, ice damage, cracks in the hull or suspected flaws in the hull, causing:
- damage to the hull, so that the vessel is no longer seaworthy, for instance if there is a hole in the hull under the waterline, stability is upset, the main engine is stopped, there is extensive damage to accomodation, etc.,
- pollution (without regard to the magnitude),
- damage with the result that the vessel must be towed or assistance from land is required, and
- serious injury to persons in connection with a vessel’s operation.
An incident at sea shall mean an incident occurring due to or in connection with a vessel’s operation, placing a vessel or persons in danger, or which could result in serious damage to a vessel, structure or the environment.
Causes shall mean any actions, failure to act, events or conditions, or any combination thereof, which existed or exist and resulted in the accident or incident.
A vessel shall mean any floating ship.
Marine Accident Investigation Board
Name and address
The Board shall be called the Icelandic Marine Accident Investigation Board (in Icelandic: Rannsóknarnefnd sjóslysa), and abbreviated IMAIB. The IMAIB is located in Stykkishólmur.
IMAIB members, staff and consultants are forbidden to divulge to unauthorised parties information which they may acquire in their work and which should remain secret, and are liable to be held responsible for such action under provisions of the Criminal Code on violation of a public servant’s duty. The obligation of confidentiality shall remain after their employment ceases.
The provisions of Chapter II of the Public Administration Act, No. 37/1993, shall apply concerning the special eligibility of IMAIB members and staff of the IMAIB. The IMAIB members themselves shall check to ensure their eligibility and inform the chairman or vice-chairman if they consider themselves ineligible to proceed with a case. In that case the alternate of the IMAIB member concerned shall take a seat on the Board.
The Minister of Communications shall provide members of the IMAIB with identification to verify their legal status and work authorisation.
Members of the IMAIB and any experts summoned shall be insured against accidents in their work in accordance with the risk their duties involve.
Managing Director and staff
The Minister of Communication shall, upon receiving the Board’s recommendation, appoint a managing director, who in turn shall engage other personnel in consultation with the Board. The managing director should preferably have educational qualifications and work experience in areas concerning vessels and vessel operation and experience in management. The IMAIB shall decide what requirements shall be set for other staff of the Board.
Notifications and registration of marine accidents etc.
Notification of marine accidents
The master of a vessel, or whoever replaces him, is obligated to report to the IMAIB of any accident aboard ship causing personal injury.
The master, vessel operator, Icelandic Ship Duty Reporting System, Icelandic Coast Guard, police authorities or other party aware of such shall be responsible for giving notification to the IMAIB of a marine accident involving damage to property but no personal injury.
Notifications as provided for in the first and second paragraph must be sent to the IMAIB, without exception and no later than within 7 days from the date a marine accident occurred, on an application form provided for the purpose by the IMAIB. A notification in electronic form shall be regarded as equivalent.
The IMAIB shall consult with the Icelandic accident registry and the State Social Security Institute concerning the reception and processing of notifications of marine accidents involving personal injury.
Registration of marine accidents
The IMAIB shall handle the registration of all marine accidents. The Board may seek to consult and co-operate with the Icelandic accident registry concerning the registration of marine accidents. The registration of marine accidents shall be carried out in accordance with the Act on the Protection of Privacy as regards the Processing of Personal Data, No. 77/2000.
Information on the registration of marine accidents shall be published in the general report provided for in Article 18.
Procedures of the IMAIB
When the managing director or IMAIB employee or member receives notification of a marine accident which the Board is to investigate, the person concerned shall immediately take measures to initiate an investigation by the IMAIB.
If the managing director or an employee receives notification of a very serious accident, he/she shall inform the IMAIB chairman or, if the chairman cannot be reached, one of the members of the IMAIB. They shall jointly arrange an on-site investigation. The chairman or vice-chairman may appoint a specific IMAIB member or competent party to carry out the on-site inspection together with the managing director or IMAIB employee.
If the accident is not very serious, the managing director or employee shall decide whether there is a need for an on-site investigation.
The managing director, IMAIB employee or other appointed representative of the IMAIB must protect the site of the accident as long as deemed necessary for the purposes of the Board’s investigation. Should a dispute arise concerning IMAIB actions in this connection, the chairman shall be informed thereof.
The IMAIB, its employees or representatives must have unrestricted access to the site of a marine accident. A representative of the IMAIB shall direct the on-site investigation, as the case may be, in consultation with the police if a police investigation is concurrently underway.
Following the on-site investigation the managing director, employee or representative of the IMAIB shall prepare a report on the investigation.
Detention of a vessel
The Marine Accident Investigation Board may detain a vessel or hold any part of it or of its equipment as long as it deems necessary due to the investigation. Such authorisation shall not, however, be invoked unless this is deemed unavoidable for the investigation of the case.
Disputes concerning whether a vessel shall be released may be referred to a judge in the legal venue where the vessel is located.
When a notification is received of a marine accident or accident which the IMAIB is to investigate, the managing director, employee or representative of the IMAIB shall take action to gather the data and evidence which could be of significance for investigation of the case.
The managing director or IMAIB employee shall present the case to the IMAIB as soon as possible. In the case of a very serious accident, the managing director or employee shall present the investigation data and evidence to the IMAIB within four weeks of the occurrence of the accident.
Members of the IMAIB may obtain the data and evidence at any time during the investigation and may request that specific data or evidence be gathered. Should a dispute arise concerning gathering of specific data or evidence, the chairman shall decide whether this shall be gathered; the matter may be referred to the IMAIB for a decision.
The Marine Accident Investigation Board and its personnel may demand all documentation pertaining to a vessel, all certificates which are required to be kept aboard the vessel, a register of crew members, computer print-outs concerning the vessel’s voyage and engine, as well as other documentation, e.g. on communications and data concerning the vessel’s operation and sailing. The Icelandic Maritime Administration and other public institutions are obliged to provide the IMAIB with information.
The IMAIB and its employees may also question the owner, user or controller of the vessel, its crew and any other person who may be expected to be able to provide information which could help to reveal the cause of the accident. Audio recordings may be made of questioning.
A party to a case, his or her supervisor and any other persons whom the Marine Accident Investigation Board feels necessary to question to shed light on the case, must meet before the Board and reply to the questions directed to them.
The testimony of persons questioned by the IMAIB shall be treated as confidential. It shall not be used for any purpose other than to reveal the causes of a marine accident.
IMAIB Meetings, etc.
Decisions by the IMAIB shall be taken at its meetings. A meeting shall be properly constituted if attended by at least three members of the Board.
The Board may seek the assistance of research laboratories, in Iceland or abroad, as required for the investigation of a marine accident. Domestic parties are obliged to provide the Board with the assistance requested.
The IMAIB may summon experts in specific fields to work with the Board for the purpose of resolving a case.
The IMAIB shall take a final decision on the scope of an investigation, primarily with a view to its significance for the safety of seafarers.
Once an investigation has concluded, the IMAIB shall compile, as soon as possible, a report on the findings of the investigation. The report shall include the following:
a) a description of events;
b) upon what data and evidence the report is based;
c) what members of the IMAIB dealt with the case;
d) the cause or probable cause of the marine accident;
e) proposals for precautionary measures which can be taken to prevent further accidents of the same or similar type if there is cause for such.
Should the IMAIB members not be unanimous in their conclusion, the dissenting minority of the Board shall account in particular for its conclusion.
The IMAIB may issue an interim report before the investigation of a case is concluded in order to make certain information public, if it deems this necessary due to the nature of a case.
The committee may decide to conclude its investigation of minor cases with a protocol in the book of minutes, in which case no report on the investigation shall be published. Such conclusion of a case shall, however, be mentioned in the IMAIB’s general report each year.
Preservation of data and evidence in a case
The IMAIB must preserve securely data and evidence of significance for the investigation of a case. Audio recordings on magnetic tape shall be preserved in secure, locked and fireproof storage. Other evidence shall be preserved in the same manner.
The IMAIB shall limit its publication for general access of oral testimony transcribed from recordings to that which is directly connected to the marine accident being investigated.
Documentation containing the testimony of witnesses and parties to a case questioned by the IMAIB shall not be made available to others.
Parties to the case, the owner or operator of the vessel in question and its classification society, together with the Icelandic Maritime Administration, shall be given the opportunity, in such manner as the IMAIB decides, to express themselves concerning the draft of the Board’s final report within a prescribed time limit, unless their position in the case is already available from the evidence or this is obviously unnecessary.
Those parties who are entitled to express themselves on the IMAIB’s draft final report shall furthermore be given a copy of the final report when it has been issued by the IMAIB.
Reports on individual cases shall also be sent to the Minister of Communications, the Icelandic Maritime Administration and the Maritime Council. The IMAIB shall decide what other additional parties shall receive the reports, which are considered public documents and may be sold at cost price. Publication on the Internet shall be considered as equivalent.
The Marine Accident Investigation Board shall make proposals for safety measures at sea if an investigation into the causes of a marine accident gives cause for so doing. The Icelandic Maritime Administration shall ensure that the IMAIB’s proposals for safety measures are formally dealt with in each instance. Should the Icelandic Maritime Administration’s examination lead to the conclusion that special action is necessary, it shall take the initiative in undertaking this, including by proposing changes to legislation or regulations. Wherever possible the Icelandic Maritime Administration shall send its response to proposals within two months of their receipt by the Board. At the end of each year, the Icelandic Maritime Administration shall send the Board a summary of the cases it has dealt with and of the status of matters in progress.
The Board shall publish a general report on its work each year and present this to the Minister of Communications. The Minister shall present to the Icelandic parliament Althingi a report on investigation of marine accidents. The IMAIB shall decide on the dissemination of the report apart from this.
The general report shall include the IMAIB’s findings in individual cases together with proposals for improvements. Furthermore, it shall indicate what improvements have been made following up on the IMAIB’s findings. The general report shall contain information from the IMAIB database on registration of marine accidents.
Re-opening of a case
The IMAIB may re-open cases which have already been investigated, if new and important evidence or information comes to light in its estimation which could have changed the Board findings.. The IMAIB’s assessment of such is final.
Agreements and consultation with other parties
The IMAIB may conclude an agreement with the Icelandic Maritime Administration or other party on co-operation arrangements, including mandatory assistance in individual IMAIB investigations, mutual exchange of information and notifications, as well as procedures for notifications and warnings concerning safety at sea. The agreement must be approved by the Minister of Communications.
IMAIB shall endeavour to co-operate positively with similar agencies in other countries.
Entry into force
This Regulation, which is set by authority of the Act on Investigation of Marine Accidents, No. 68/2000, shall enter into force immediately.
Ministry of Communications, 24 January 2001