Maritime Assistance Service (MAS)

According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), coastal States are obliged to establish a function for Maritime Assistance Service (MAS) to handle events on ships that are in difficulty and where environmental harm is imminent or has already occurred, but where no danger to human life is present.

The European Union has also produced Directives and procedures as a result of vessel accidents such as ERICA and PRESTIGE as regards cooperation between government authorities and emergency services.

The following applies to Maritime Assistance Service, MAS, in Sweden

  1. The Swedish Transport Agency has primary responsibility
  2. The Swedish Coast Guard is responsible for maritime pollution response
  3. JRCC (Joint Rescue Coordination Centre within the Swedish Maritime Administration (SMA)) acts as the point of contact (PoC) between ship and shore within the Swedish Search and Rescue Region (SRR)

The MAS function is physically managed from the JRCC in Gothenburg, where a special room for this purpose has been established. MAS is primarily executed in close cooperation between the Swedish Transport Agency, the Swedish Coast Guard and the Swedish Maritime Administration, but the Police, the municipal emergency services and local authorities may also be involved.

A MAS alarm may be transmitted to the authorities by radio or telephone call, for example, with a request for assistance. Additionally, a search and rescue case can be transferred to MAS when there is no longer any danger to human life.

The main tasks of the MAS function include

  1. receiving reports from ships in need of assistance
  2. monitoring the vessel's situation
  3. acting as a point of contact between the vessel and coastal authorities
  4. acting as a point of contact between the collaborating parties at sea and the coastal state.

The language generally used in MAS operations in Sweden is Swedish or English.