A ceremony held in Limassol on Thursday paid tribute to the joint efforts of the US Embassy in Nicosia and the Cyprus Shipping Chamber (CSC) in collaboration with the Cyprus Marine Environment Protection Association (CYMEPA) and the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS).

The event aimed to honour shipping companies actively engaged in the US Coast Guard’s Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) programme, a critical initiative aiding vessels in distress across high seas.

AMVER is a worldwide voluntary reporting system sponsored by the US Coast Guard. It is a computer-based global ship-reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea.

The event recognized 24 Cyprus-based companies for enrolling their ships in the AMVER programme in 2022, totalling 241 awards conferred to as many ships.

The programme, welcoming ships of all flags and nationalities, operates on a voluntary basis. Participating companies offer their vessels as potential rescue assets during emergencies.

Prior to departure, the ships transmit a sail plan to the AMVER computer centre, detailing their route, speed, and ports of departure and arrival. In case of an emergency, AMVER utilises this data to pinpoint the positions of participating vessels in proximity to distressed mariners, vessels, or aircraft.

The service is provided free of charge to both participants and those rescued.

AMVER intervenes when official rescue operations are overwhelmed or distant from the crisis point, promptly identifying and informing the nearest available vessel capable of offering aid. The programme’s success in safeguarding lives and assets at sea relies on seamless international collaboration among ships, companies, communication service providers, governments, and search-and-rescue authorities.

Since its establishment in 1958, AMVER has extended search and rescue services globally. In 2022, AMVER recorded 212 activations for searches and rescues, engaging hundreds of ships and contributing to the salvation of 376 lives. Each day, the programme boasts over 6,700 ships available for potential search and rescue operations.

During the ceremony on Thursday, US Ambassador to Cyprus Julie Fisher conferred awards to participating mariners and their respective companies. Fisher praised AMVER as an exemplary model of mutual aid and collaboration.