Law 21,066 came into force on February 16 2018. It amended the Navigation Law in connection with the extraction of sunk or stranded vessels and harmful materials contained thereon.
The main amendments introduced to the Navigation Law are as follows:
- Wreck removal now comprises the cargo on board a sunk or stranded vessel, aircraft or artefact.
- If a vessel or naval artefact is drifting in bad buoyancy conditions or taking on water, the Maritime Authority can require the owner, proprietor or operator to promptly adopt corrective measures.(1) If the owner, proprietor or operator fails to take such measures, the vessel or naval artefact will be deemed abandoned and its ownership will pass to the state.
- Once abandonment has been declared in favour of the state, the Maritime Authority may proceed with its removal or disposal through public or private tenders. In cases of extreme urgency (eg, the imminent sinking of a vessel or naval artefact), the Maritime Authority can authorise the dumping of a vessel or naval artefact.
- Vessels or naval artefacts that are still afloat but have no statutory crew on board will be deemed abandoned. Ownership will pass to the state where the Maritime Authority requires the owner, proprietor or operator to provide safe manning and the order is not complied with. The same applies for vessels or naval artefacts which lack crew and have been stranded by the Maritime Authority on account of their owners, proprietors or operators having been requested to remove them from the stranding location.
- If the Maritime Authority concludes that a sunken or stranded vessel, aircraft or naval artefact (including cargo) poses no threat or obstacle to navigation, fishing, the environment or other maritime or shore activities, the owner will have up to one year to commence wreck removal operations.
- The cost of a removal or extraction operation will be borne by the owner or operator of the sunken vessel, aircraft or naval artefact on the date of the incident, provided that there are no bidders or the tender process is cancelled. The same applies in the case of the presence of hydrocarbons or other hazardous substances.
Law 21,066 strengthens marine environment preservation and navigation safety, and the new faculties granted to the Maritime Authority in respect of ships or craft whose condition poses a risk or danger represent a positive change.
(1) According to new Article 132bis of the Navigation Law, a vessel or naval artefact is adrift if, as a result of the inadequacy of its equipment, fitting or crewing, it cannot be anchored safely or sail from the anchorage area as soon as the Maritime Authority requires it to do so.
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